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Bonjour à tous, je m’appelle Nico, je vis en France et pratique le Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu de Maître Masaaki HATSUMI. J’aime aller sur tous les sites et blogs intéressants pour y trouver des articles qui peuvent me faire comprendre et évoluer dans ma pratique. Plutôt que de garder toutes ces infos pour moi, j’ai ouvert ce blog qui recense tous les articles que j’ai trouvé pertinents (Ce n’est donc que de mon point de vue).

Pour toutes questions, vous pouvez me contacter :


Hello, my name is Nico, I live in France and practice Master Masaaki Hatsumi’s Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. I go to all sites and blogs to find interesting articles that can make me understand and grow in my practice. Rather than keep all this info for me, I opened this blog that lists all the relevant articles I found (It is only from my point of view).

For questions, please contact me:






Ishi Tobashi (石飛ばし) – Skipping stones in water

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Ishi Tobashi (石飛ばし)- Skipping stones in water
Spring is a terrific time in Australia, during swimming with my 7yr old son the other day he took a pebble and threw it to make it skip on water, he didn’t manage any skips the first time. Shocked that I caught him doing it, I asked him to do it again, after a few more attempts he managed to get 3 skips before it hit the tiles, realizing that it was damaging my tiles I told him to stop after that. It made me think of Ishi tobashi (1) and the notes I took from last year during my trips to the hombu. I thought I would write about it and share some insight on Ishi Tobashi or skipping stones in water.

From late 2014 Soke has been using the concept of Ishi Tobashi when talking to the jugo dans in class. In a fight be like a “stone skipping in water” this concept can be difficult to comprehend although superficially it can seem like it is easy to understand. When the uke attacks this is when the principle of ishi tobashi occurs, we must adapt to what is coming to us and be like the stone that skips on water. This is the concept in its most basic form.

We can also move from kukan (空間) to kukan (2) when an uke attacks. This might seem counterproductive to some who look at ending the altercation immediately however, depending on the nature of the initial attack the most effective kukan might not present itself until the 3rd movement by the uke which could be a strike/grab/grapple etc (3rd skip of the stone), it is then that you will have control of the opponent. But remember we are doing this all without thought, just like a child throwing stones in water.
However the uke can also be like that stone if they have that attitude in mind, this is when we must then be like water (水) and stop the stone from skipping.

Linking the concept of Ishi tobashi during class soke talked about not becoming entangled with the opponent as this will limit the chances for victory, and by sacrificing yourself you have the chance to survive.

See Picture (Takagi-Ryu Chugokui Mokuroku from 1844


There is a saying in the Takagi Ryu “training is crucial: a thousand or 10 thousand methods are linked to a single method”. With this we can begin to see how from an attack made by the uke that our movements no matter how advanced are all linked back to the kihon (基本)

Here we see Soke perfectly executing Ishi Tobashi (石飛ばし)against me as uke 1st picture the attack; 2nd picture soke without thinking finds kukan, 3rd uke moves the rear hand, soke then finds kukan again uke hand is straight and now with balance broken, 4th with the final skip of the stone, soke moves and the uke has the balance totally broken.


To understand Ishi Tobashi is to understand the nature of a confrontation against opponents who might be skilled or unpredictable, where fights are almost never finished with the first blow. There is a saying by many Eskrima grandmasters of “tulo ko bunal, tapas ikaw patay”- If I hit three times, you die. This is an understanding that compound attacks are necessary to attain victory especially against the strongest opponents.

The concept of Ishi Tobashi is advanced and not easy to comprehend, each shihan might take something differently from what soke imparts. It is important to keep an open mind in training and remember that there is no substitute to training itself. The Takagi-Ryu Chugokui Mokuroku from 1844 says “Training is crucial”.

Always enjoy your training.
Terry Lollback
Yushu Shihan
Bujinkan Dojo

Source :

人心看破術 Jin Shin Kan Pa Jutsu

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The other day I was in the dojo training when a friend who has not been in Japan came in and greeted me. His boyish good looks still evident but under a layer of new chubbiness. (Hopefully due to a good life overseas) My initial thought was “Wow, he`s gained some weight!”. Of course, as learned etiquette demands, I did not mention it and we began training. About five minutes later Hatsumi Sensei comes walking over and greets him with a hearty “Hello! Good to see you” and “Oh I see you have gotten fat!”. Well I almost fell over and the three of us burst out laughing. As I was catching my breath I hear my friend say to Sensei, “Yes it`s true, I have gained weight and my hair is changing to gray. I wasn`t sure that you would recognize me.”. Sensei replied, “of course I know you!”. What he said next was very interesting. He pulled us together and speaks, ” I may forget a face, and I may forget a name but I never forget the mood or feeling of person. This is important, to understand someone`s mood or the feel of that person.”.

Instantly, I am thrown back in time to last October (2015), Halloween, I had dressed as Harry Potter and came to the dojo early to joke around with my friends. After having a nice laugh with everyone in the dojo and before Sensei arrived, I changed into my dogi but kept the wig and wire rim glasses on; thinking I might fool Sensei. Some Japanese say all foreigners look alike anyways! A few minutes pass and Sensei enters the dojo and barely glances at me as he walks by. Immediately I know he knows. For he would have certainly greeted a new comer more warmly. I ask “Sensei, how did you you know it was me?”. He looks back over his shoulder at me and says “Of course, I know it`s you. I don’t look at the outside, I look at the inside of everyone.”.

A few days later, I am thinking about these two events when again I am thrown back in time to about ten years ago when Sensei used to tell us the importance of the art of Jin Shin Kan Pa Jutsu. The art of reading, seeing, sensing the heart, intent, feel of a person. To know a person instantly, know his intent, his heart, clear or dark. The importance of not being fooled by outwardly appearances. If you are always taken with the outwardly shapes, forms, colors of the people and things around you will often miss their truth, their intent, their nature – good or bad. This can lead a multitude of troubles, from being swindled in love and money, to more perilous, dangerous or even life threatening situations. The ninja often used the opposite of this, henso jutsu (disquise) to hide in plain sight. Often in our training, we enjoy the practice of the more outwardly and sometimes fun henso jutsu practice but forget about the this equally important inner ability. With consistent practice to nurture a calm clear heart, the art will naturally and surely take root. The ninja must endeavor to master both the inner and outer arts to ensure a safe and a happy return.


Source :

中今(Naka Ima) Here and now are the only realities.

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This is a work of art for my friend Matthew by Hatsumi Soke. It reads in large characters, Divine Dragon (神龍) and in ancient “Age of the Gods” characters (kamiyomoji), Shiken haramitsu Dai Koumyo. Sensei often writes this for people who are having difficulties with health or as a general Omamori or talisman for protection.






When my good friend Willy Iglesia went to Japan at the tender age of 18 to train with Ninja Master Hatsumi Masaaki, his first lesson was an unexpected one.  Hatsumi Sensei took him to a restaurant and ordered two plates heaping with vegetables for the two of them.  Willy, being a young man from Argentina, (people form Argentina eat a lot of meat! How much? Well, think of a whole hell of a lot of meat and then think even more!) So Willy, looking at the plate of greens, says “Sensei, I don`t eat vegetables.”. The reply from Ninja Master Hatsumi, “First lesson, now eat vegetables!”.

We often forget the foundation upon which our Ninpo is based.  A healthy body/mind organism.  In his very first books on Ninpo, Hatsumi Sensei stresses the importance of proper nutrition and exercise.  Yet often we are controlled by our senses, eating and partaking in activities solely to please the greedy senses. My yogi teachers would say, “you are eating donuts to please the tongue while the liver dies in silence.”. These words I can never forget.  If you look deeply at this one sentence, you may grab the essence  of the Rokon Shojou 六根清浄  (禄魂笑浮)teachings of several years ago as well.

I  train a small Bujinkan group in Yokohama and have had the good fortune to meet Matthew Dons who became an ardent supporter, student and good friend. Matthew was recently diagnosed with stage four cancer having spread to many systems in his body. He is 36 years old with two small children. The prognosis is that he most likely has only a few months to live.  We live our life as if we have an unlimited amount of time.  Once I was speaking with Hatsumi Sensei about the later years of life. He said, “Don`t think about the later years, right now, these are the later years of your life.  live now. this is naka ima! (中今).”. Be in the middle of right now. The Buddha once said, “life is but a single breath.” How deeply can we live and love in this moment.  Often we think, when I get there, I will be happy then.  Remember, there and then are fictions. Here and now are the only realities.

If you are able and would like to help, please click the link below  to help Matthew fund his treatment and other expenses in this difficult time. We are hoping to extend his life for a few more precious moments to be with his family.  Wishing you all health and happiness, Now!

A side note. We once announced an opening party for Kasumian Study Center a year and a half ago, Matthew is the only one who showed. He came all the way from Yokohama to support us.  I am very grateful for the time we spent together. Thank you for being there Matthew.  Buyu 武友、武祐、武勇。All are pronounced Buyu. Martial friend, martial divine help, martial courage.  They are all of them you and may they continue to be with you!



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Garage martial arts – are they any good?

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A garage dojo in Seattle, Washington. A garage dojo in Seattle, Washington.

I have a friend coming from out of town this morning to work on knife defense and tactics. We will practice in my garage.

Some people look down on garage training. They think a “real” martial arts school should have a well-equipped dojo with heavy bags hanging from the ceiling, weapons on the walls, and thick mats on the floor.

That’s all good. But no one should ever look down on garage training, and no student should be embarrassed to study in someone’s garage or home. Some instructors are traditional, and prefer to teach only family or individuals they know and trust. They do not promote their arts. A student should consider it an honor to be allowed to train in an instructor’s home.

Many instructors teach out of their garages, or at the park, because their primary pursuit is the art itself. These types of teachers are obsessed with learning and honing their abilities. They don’t want to invest their time in running a studio, doing paperwork, marketing and sales. They would rather focus on training and even traveling great distances to learn from other masters. Instructors like this can be the most gifted martial artists around, even if no one knows their name outside of a small circle. Bobbe Edmonds comes to mind, or the legendary Professor Wally Jay (who taught in his basement, and was scorned by other masters for years because of his innovations to Japanese Jujitsu).

I once tried a Wing Chun class in a garage with a young man who had advertised online. He didn’t want to be paid. He just wanted a loyal student. I didn’t continue because I found that Wing Chun did not suit me personally; but it was obvious that the young man was extremely skilled. He seemed to live, breathe and eat nothing but Wing Chun and heavy metal music.

One of the pioneers of Hapkido, master Ji-Han-Jae, studied with various teachers in his youth. These included of course Hapkido founder Choi Young Sul, a monk he called Taoist Lee Dosa, and a woman he called Grandma. Grandma taught him for three years from a hospice for the terminally ill. Somehow I doubt they had heavy bags hanging from the ceiling.

The training environment is not the measure of the martial artist. Nor does his/her value as a teacher and fighter correspond to the cost of his uniform or the square footage of the training space. The measure of an instructor lies his sincerity, character and skill, and the sincerity, character and skill of his students.

I am sure that there are amazing martial artists teaching in garages, living rooms, basements and backyards all over the world. These men are hidden masters. The important thing is that they continue teaching, so that their skills may survive and perhaps one day be shared with the world.

Wael Abdelgawad, Founder
Hammerhead Hapkido

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La distancia

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La distancia, considerado desde una perspectiva lineal, es el espacio entre una persona o cosa, y otra.

En las artes marciales es algo muy importante y con lo que se está aprendiendo constantemente.

No solo hay que aprender a coger las distancias adecuadas para poder realizar las técnicas, sino que cuando avanzas en tu entrenamiento te das cuenta de que puedes influir en el resultado final o en el desarrollo de la misma, en función de como la utilices.

Un estudiante novel empieza a aprender las técnicas cuando empieza a ser consciente de las distancias, y las aprende a controlar. De todos modos, es un factor que tiene un aprendizaje constante a lo largo de la trayectoria de cualquier artista marcial.

Al igual que sucede con los asesinos profesionales, sus primeras enseñanzas se basan en distancias largas. ¿Por qué? Porque el objetivo está más alejado y se tiene mayor posibilidad de que no te lesione, e incluso si algo sale mal, de poder escapar.

Cuanto mayor es la distancia, también se dispone de mas tiempo para poder reaccionar, es lo que se denomina realizar el ciclo de combate; observar – valorar – decidir – actuar.

Siempre es mas favorable tener distancia de por medio para evitar el que hatsumi-mnos agredan, de hecho, se le tiene menos miedo y estaremos menos nerviosos frente a un adversario a varios metros de distancia, aunque tenga un cuchillo en la mano, que si el adversario
está a medio metro de nosotros a mano vacía.  En éste último caso, estaremos mas nerviosos y tensos, porque nuestra reacción debe ser inmediata.

Cuando se van aprendiendo técnicas y recursos, el estudiante se va acercando mas al adversario a la hora del enfrentamiento, hasta que llega a un nivel de conocimientos en su entrenamiento, en el cual es capaz de encontrarse cómodo en un enfrentamiento en corta distancia.

Gran parte de la capacidad de respuesta y adaptación al combate en distancia cercana, se debe a la habilidad adquirida al saber desplazarse, coordinar los brazos para atacar defender simultáneamente, al igual que las piernas y la coordinación entre manos-codos-brazos, y piernas-rodillas-pies.

Actualmente está muy de moda la denominación del enfrentamiento en la distancia corta mediante acrónimos utilizados por los profesionales. Si hablamos de militares, éstos utilizan la denominación de CQB (CLOSE QUARTER BATTLE – Batalla en distancia cerrada ó corta), mientras que los policías utilizan la expresión CQC (CLOSE QUARTER COMBAT – Combate en distancia cerrada ó corta).

No es de extrañar que se centren y le pongan denominación a esta distancia corta de enfrentamiento y no lo hagan con la distancia media ni la larga, y esto es debido a que se han comprobado mediante muchos estudios realizados por diversos cuerpos policiales, incluido el FBI, que ésta es la distancia más peligrosa para intervenir, debido a que, como se dijo antes, al haber menos distancia, también hay menor tiempo de reacción, y estadísticamente, en la que mayor numero de agresiones se realizan.

El policía o el militar siempre iran un paso por detrás de las acciones del agresor, debido a que la intervención siempre es reactiva, aunque se prevean sus intenciones y/o posibles acciones, siempre tendrán que adaptarse a la acción del individuo de su intento de agredir o de huir.

Hay cientos de especialistas que dicen tener la llave maestra para poder saber cuando alguien te va a atacar. Unos hablan de fijarse en los movimientos de los hombros, para percibir si va a lanzar un golpe. Otros hacen hincapié en las manos, nunca hay que perder nunca de vista las manos del adversario, para ver que porta, si intenta acceder a un arma o utilizar los objetos que lleve como si fueran un arma. Otros especialistas hablan de la mirada del adversario, es importante fijarse en si está tenso, si mira fija o repetidamente en alguna dirección u objeto, etc.

Existen muchas teorías y realmente todas son importantes y llevan un gran componente de valor en sus indicaciones, pero no podemos caer en la trampa de hacer caso solo a una teoría, deberíamos considerarlas todas, y eso es realmente lo que hacemos en el Budo Taijutsu.  De las 9 escuelas existentes en la Bujinkan, cada una incide en un aspecto concreto, por ejemplo, para Koto Ryu los ojos son todo y utiliza distancias cortas, en Gyokko Ryu utiliza las distancias largas en combate, en Takagi Yoshi Ryu las técnicas se desarrollan a distancia corta y se mira a los ojos, etc, y por supuesto también consideran los posibles ataques del adversario en función de los conceptos que para cada escuela era importante, bien sean movimientos y golpes rápidos y directos, desplazamientos, utilización de armas concretas, estrategias, etc.

Por dicho motivo, el Soke dice siempre que entrenemos todas las escuelas y con diferentes buyus de todas partes del mundo, ya que el entrenar y conocer diferentes aspectos culturales y diferentes escenarios, enriquecerá nuestro Budo y lo hará más efectivo.

Existe una relación directa y obvia entre las armas y su distancia de trabajo. Esto es un concepto a tener en cuenta, pero no hay que olvidar que es algo muy básico. Así pues, con un Tanto, Kunai, Suriken, Kusari, Shukos, etc, se le asigna una distancia de trabajo corta. Con un Hanbo, Ken, Jo, Kusari, Kama, etc, parece que le correspondería una distancia media. Y armas como el Yari, Naginata, Bisento, etc, a una distancia larga.

Cuando hayas aprendido a trabajar dichas armas en su “distancia natural” (que es la que parece que le corresponde para la que han sido fabricadas o lo que se muestra en las técnicas), posteriormente deberías romper las reglas y salir del camino marcado, para entrenar las técnicas pero con armas diferentes a la que te indican. Tantas combinaciones como puedas realizar, así será mayor el enriquecimiento que obtengas. Por ejemplo, técnicas de distancia corta como un cuchillo, realízalas con armas de distancia media como una Katana ó Hanbo, y armas largas como el Yari ó la Naginata.


Recuerda que un arma la puedes coger por donde tu quieras, tan solo hay que respetar las zonas cortantes y las que sean lesivas para nosotros, siéntete libre de utilizarla de diferentes maneras a  la convencional, esto es parte del dicho “no ser esclavos de las armas”.

También puedes invertir el concepto, y utilizar un arma corta a distancia larga, pero recuerda, si vas a lanzar algo, es preferible que preveas su recuperación, como por ejemplo atando una cuerda fina al final del cuchillo.

Algo muy importante en relación a las distancias son los ángulos.Puesto que una misma distancia desde un ángulo diferente altera su proporción, tanto en horizontal (Migi e Hidari), como en vertical (Ten Chi).


Estos conceptos son de las primeras cosas que aprendes/enseñas en la Bujinkan, que las distancias son relativas. No necesitas ser mas rápido, si mejoras tu velocidad será mejor para ti, pero ese no es un factor determinante.

Cuando sepas manejar las distancias de referencia en tu adversario, deberías intentar descubrir las distancias “dentro” de tu oponente. Es fácil identificar la distancia de separación a una persona, o al objeto o arma que tenga esa persona, pero una vez que te encuentras dentro de la distancia corta, pegado a tu adversario, siguen existiendo distancias.

Las distancias ahora debes identificarlas con respecto a la siguiente amenaza que pueda ofrecerte el adversario, es decir, el intento de golpearte con un puño o patada, el intento de agarrarte para luxarte o intentar deshacer la luxación que tú le estés haciendo, la distancia entre el objeto ó arma que tenga y tú, o incluso la distancia entre el adversario y tus armas, para que no pueda acceder a ellas, o que tú puedas utilizarlas de manera eficaz.

Las distancias son un concepto que se deben tener muy en cuenta, ya que son importantes a la hora de poder trabajar seguro. Pero también es muy importante el concepto de “cómo” vas a recorrer esa distancia.

No es igual recorrer unos pocos kilómetros andando, que viajando en coche. El medio que utilizas para recorrer la distancia, la manera en que lo haces y la velocidad en recorrerla, son los tres aspectos más destacados en referencia a la distancia.

En el momento del enfrentamiento debes considerar esos tres puntos;

– Cómo recorrer la distancia, el camino

– La energia o elementos para recorrerla

– La rapidez en su recorrido

Ese es uno de los motivos por los que cuando el enfrentamiento entre tropas no se hacia de manera horizontal (por ejemplo en una llanura), sino que el campo de batalla era una montaña o un castillo, eran más importantes las características del camino a recorrer, que la distancia en sí misma.

La distancia más corta entre dos puntos es una linea recta, pero teniendo en cuenta los tres puntos anteriores, debe entrenarse la forma de recorrer esa distancia, tanto para realizar un golpe, como lanzar un arma u objeto, o desplazarnos nosotros.

Si queremos avanzar en nuestro progreso en la utilización de las distancias, cuando tengamos controlados estos parámetros debemos cambiar la evolución del recorrido, y podemos hacerlo basándonos en la trayectoria del Shanshin No Kata.

-. El nivel Chi corresponde a la identificación de la distancia (corta, media o larga), y la orientación de nuestro cuerpo, fundamentalmente nuestras caderas, con respecto al punto al que nos dirijamos, o el objetivo de nuestro ataque.

-. El nivel Sui corresponde a la manera de efectuar el recorrido. No siempre tiene que ser en linea recta, existen los dobles objetivos, defender mientras se ataca, y atacar mientras se defiende. También tendremos en cuenta que la distancia no solo se recorre en horizontal, como anteriormente comentábamos, también existen recorridos en vertical (Ten -Chi), y ademas en diagonal y en espiral.

-. La velocidad se identificaría con el nivel o elemento Ka. No siempre es necesario ser muy rápido, lo importante es el ritmo. El Soke a repetido en muchas ocasiones que cuanto más rápido vaya tu adversario, más lento debes ir tu.

-. El elemento Fu haría alusión a los elementos que recorren esa distancia. Puede ser nuestro cuerpo desplazándose, y eso correspondería a la energía y actitud con que nos desplazamos, o los objetos o armas que hagamos que recorran esa distancia, bien sea lanzándolos (como Shuriken, Metsubushi, etc), o bien proyectándolos contra el adversario (como Ken, Bo, Yari, Tanto, etc). Dependiendo del objeto o arma que lanzamos o proyectamos, y al objetivo al que va dirigido, debemos alterar la distancia o buscar la más adecuada con el fin de que resulte más eficaz.

-. El nivel Ku corresponde a la suma y combinación de todos los elementos anteriores y ademas la estrategia para utilizarlos.

Evidentemente, el escenario más favorable para nosotros, y que será nuestro objetivo prioritario, es el encontrarnos en nuestra distancia de trabajo adecuada, que es aquella en que sepamos desenvolvernos mejor y sea más adecuada al uso eficaz de nuestras armas, y todo ello a la vez que salimos de la distancia eficaz del adversario.

Al igual que resulta hoy en día en un enfrentamiento armado, prima salir de la distancia del adversario antes incluso de utilizar la nuestra correctamente. El priorizar nuestras acciones vulnerando este principio da como resultado la ejecución de técnicas y estrategias suicidas o también denominadas “de sacrificio”, que en ocasiones pueden salir bien, y en ocasiones mal, pero ahí ya no controlamos la situación del combate, el resultado depende de muchos otros factores externos y nuestras posibilidades de supervivencia se verán muy comprometidas, aunque, también es cierto que en ocasiones, aun siendo el ultimo recurso, son necesarias, pero debemos valorarlas como ultimo recurso por lo arriesgadas que son.


Recuerda, primero ponte a salvo, evita la distancia eficaz de trabajo del adversario y  de sus armas, y después ponte a trabajar con tu distancia y tus armas.

Como estrategia principal se recomienda no permanecer estáticos en ninguna de las distancias, sino que estaremos entrando y saliendo constantemente para no ser un objetivo asequible para nuestro adversario. Y durante ese recorrido de distancias, estar preparado siempre para defenderse constantemente, y a la vez pendientes para atacar en cuanto veamos oportunidad de que nuestro ataque puede ser efectivo.

Y esto es igual para desarrollar en campo abierto, tanto como para lugares confinados.

En la consecución lógica del Sanshin No Kata hacia el Shinden Gata (enfrentamiento real), deberíamos recordar las enseñanzas del Inashi Gata, ya que anterior al enfrentamiento real, debe ser el aprendizaje para desarrollar progresivamente la habilidad para golpear.

*Articulo relacionado:

El 2º principio del Inashi Gata dice: Una vez que dominas correctamente el desarrollo del arma, trabaja en el desarrollo de los elementos adicionales, de todas las posibles variaciones del trabajo de piernas y ángulos del cuerpo que puedan propulsar el arma hacia el objetivo. “La distancia correcta es la llave del segundo paso.” Es así como todo el cuerpo entra en juego.

El concepto y trabajo con las distancias es algo presente300w.jpg a lo largo del aprendizaje de toda la vida del artista marcial, y esto es algo que el Soke intenta transmitir a través de muchísimos DVD´s sobre grabaciones de trabajos específicos de armas, escuelas o conceptos, los cuales, al margen del titulo que tenga la grabación, casi siempre lo acompaña del subtitulo “Martial Arts of Distance” (artes marciales de distancia).

Conocer las distancias y saber recorrerlas te permitirá llegar a cualquier parte que desees. Recuerda que el concepto de distancia también está incluido en “Do” (camino). No olvides ser consciente y disfrutar de tus distancias.

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Kuzushi- Part two

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So far we looked at kuzushi from the narrow biomechanical and from a tactical point of view. I would like now to expand the field of discussion so it will cover the emotional and inter-personal realm as well.

As we already mentioned, Kuzushi happens in a moment where a certain transition in our mind is required but hasn’t matured yet. In a state of kuzushi, we are  investing considerable amount of energy to maintain a position that is less and less desirable, however the decision to make a change hasn’t  ripened yet.

Experiencing Kuzushi


As we can see, kuzushi is more than a biomechanical condition. It is a state of mind. We find ourselves in it quite often in our everyday life: it could be a a response to something someone says to us or a situation that throw us off balance. When we are in kuzushi, even though we lose our composure we often fail to realize that this shift of balance requires us to re-position ourselves in a broader sense. The result is that we fail to are too late to re-position ourselves in the right  moment .

The more we try to maintain our current position, the further off balance we find ourselves.  A person that refuses to fall, for instance, will struggle much more to avoid falling, and as a result will most likely be more anxious and may end up falling in a more dramatic manner than a person that peacefully accepts the unavoidable and makes the necessary preparations for it.

Sounds familiar? Metaphorically, in our personal lives, we often find ourselves in kuzushi. Sometimes we are lucid enough to snap out of it, other times we are not so lucky, and then in hindsight we realize we should have been more flexible earlier, when more options were available.

Once we understand the concept of kuzushi we can use it to our benefit in many aspects of our daily life. The physical sensation of being in kuzushi includes some elements that we can later on identify in those moments of personal strife where we find ourselves in a mental kuzushi. The more we train the more refined is our sense of what it feels like and when it is actually beginning to form.

Applying Kuzushi

Applying kuzushi to our partner may at first glance sound like an aggressive or manipulative move, and in the dojo this is often the case. However, when we take it to a more peaceful sphere, for instance when we apply this model to inter personal relationships, we realize that bringing one to the state of kuzushi can be used to help a person we care for go through a change or to pass over an obstacle they are not aware of yet.

Seasoned public speakers often put in a joke or an outlandish story in key places in their dried out lecture to offset the listeners inner balance, thus preparing them to absorb a new message or idea. This is a trick, a technique that is used in a deliberate manner on behalf of the lecturer, yet the listener is hardly aware of the “manipulation” they experienced. However, the audience most likely could tell that the lecture was “well delivered”, “helpful” or “interesting” without being aware of the technique that was applied on them.

In our relationships we sometimes see our loved ones digging into their positions, getting stubborn and avoiding a change we believe is inevitable. We may try and frontally confront them, try to bring them to see what for us seems obvious, but to our frustration we realize that our efforts often merely yield further entrenchment on their behalf. This is perhaps the moment we need to apply kuzushi: we need to make a change in our behavior that will not be read as a direct attempt to change their mind, but nevertheless will throw our partner into an imbalance that will make them reevaluate their situation. The approach needs to be subtle but nevertheless suffice to move them just enough so they will need to accommodate for this nudging. This is exactly how we apply kuzushi in the dojo.

Kuzushi- Part two

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Kuzushi- Part 1

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The principle of kuzushi is a cornerstone to understanding most, if not all types of martial arts. Literally the word kuzushi means at the same time to offset the balance and to break something.

Many interpret kuzushi simply as breaking one’s balance thus causing them to fall. However, there is a subtler understanding of the term that by understanding and practicing it our technique will yield better results. This interpretation in terms allows us to analyze and polish subtler parts of our technique and understand a much broader range of situations in the dojo and outside of it. But to understand kuzushi we must first shed some light on an elusive part of our personality we often fail to regard as such.

Mr. Antigravity

It is quite obvious, once we put our minds to it, that we have some semi-conscious parts of our mind that constantly adjust our body posture to avoid falling. We need not to constantly think about stabilizing ourselves yet we need to be stable in order to function. This challenge is not a small feat if we consider the fact that we are standing on two legs with no balancing tail.

These parts of our mind/body are so intimately connected with our other mental capacities that we should consider them an integral part of our personality.

So far we saw how Mr. Antigravity caters the body and mind by taking upon himself the ungrateful job of keeping us erect. This job is actually very demanding since the only time Mr. Antigravity gets to rest is when we are submitting ourselves to the field of gravity and lie down. He is constantly coming up with ingenious solutions that keep us standing on our feet or sitting in a chair or on a ball and seems to do all this without bothering us.

Mr. Antigravity is usually very servile. As long as he is not bothered he caters for all the needs and whims of our other mental capacities. He makes sure we don’t fall while we are daydreaming, even if we wonder off our course. If we are in a bad mood and as a result we are hunched, it needs to provide our knees and pelvis corrections to avoid falling forwards. If we are stroking our hair it needs to adjust the spine to accommodate for the rising of the hand etc.

However, Mr. Antigravity is not totally mute. He usually prefers whispering in the background, but if he is distressed he doesn’t hesitate to get quite vocal. When our stability is challenged Mr. Antigravity takes command of our body and even our mind. The moment our physical balance is challenged he will freeze all our mental and physical activities and allow us to do nothing but what is needed to resolve the crisis either by avoiding the imminent fall or by accommodating for it.

The moment Mr. Antigravity takes over is not a pleasant moment. Our conscious mind does not give in easily. The sensation we experience in this moment of fight over dominance between our consciousness and Mr. Antigravity is of utter fear and loss of control. An untrained person will invest considerable energy trying to fight the takeover, and paradoxically, by doing so will prolong  the state of mayhem instead of allowing Mr. Antigravity to take care of business and have it done and over with.

Strange enough, the moment Mr. Antigravity takes over the sense of panic subsides, and the mind is again free to function. This nasty moment of anxiety we described is kuzushi.

I believe that by training as we do we improve ourrelationship with Mr. Antigravity , and this is one of the main reasons why people that practice martial arts often feel more confident and relaxed.

So Back to Kuzushi

The moment our uke is finally off balance one of the following will happen: either he will take action to avoid falling, or he will start taking actions to orchestrate and arrange the process of falling: prepare for rolling or break falling by arranging the body so less vulnerable organs will absorb the impact. An uke in a more aggressive state of mind may even turn this change or fall into an offensive move.

From a martial arts point of view kuzushi puts the combatant in a very weak spot: much the energy is invested into maintaining a stability that in reality can no longer be achieved. The freedom of movement in this state of mind is extremely limited: since in the combatant’s decision to make the change has not ripened yet, there are very few actions that can be taken in this fragile level of  stability.

This is not to say that in reality no better action is available, but it does mean that in this very moment any foreseeable movement that doesn’t contribute directly to maintaining the current position is shunned, even though often allowing ourselves to surrender to the inevitable change is the key to finding the optimal next move.

It is therefore in our interest as Tori to keep our uke in kuzushi for as long as possible, and prepare as much of the setup to our technique before the Uke “realizes” the position they are so costly trying to maintain can no longer be kept.  The moment the uke reaches the realization that change is inevitable, he or she will start preparing for the next stage: either preparing a counter act or in the least prepare for an organized fall. The longer we can keep our uke in kuzushi, the less prepared he or she will be for the next stage.

Controlling kuzushiis a subtle art. It requires sensitivity, practice and patience. The more subtle we become, the less obvious our next move becomes, and as a result our control of the situation improves.

Once in kuzushi, the uke loses the capacity to initiate, which makes it safe for us to proceed even in places where otherwise we would be exposed to counter strikes.

The inherent need to hold on to our current position is what make kuzushi possible. As we train and gain experience our systems learn to give in to necessary shifts of balance earlier, thus minimizing the window of opportunity for our opponent. Once we lose our instinctive fear of falling we are less intimidated by the need to maintain balamce at all costs and we gain a new type of stability: dynamic stability. Dynamic stability, which will be discussed in detail later on is the capacity to avoid the loss of control we attribute to losing balance by participating in the change that is forced on us and trafficking its outcome.

To be continued…

Michael Guralnik