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.
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 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