Kuzushi, Tsukuri, Kake… The Fundamentals Of Judo.


Kuzushi, Tsukuri, and Kake - the fundamental building blocks of Nagewaza.  Kuzushi - the off-balancing of uke… Tsukuri - fitting in to uke, positioning your body next to uke’s body to be ready to execute the throw… Kake - the finishing powerful execution of the throw.  What Judoka doesn’t know these?  For it’s difficult to get past the first few lessons in a Judo club without running into these concepts…

And although this seems quite simple when demonstrated by Sensei, it is often a whole different ball of wax when you try it yourself.  Particularly against a resisting opponent.  I know you’ve tried to pull uke up to his tiptoes when attempting a Seoinage, and it works just fine when he’s not resisting… but to do so in randori seems almost impossible, doesn’t it?

The trick, of course, is that Kuzushi and Tsukuri are really two aspects of the same movement.  They are not separate movements… particularly at the black belt level, it is your Tsukuri that sets up and forces Kuzushi.  It’s for this reason that an ‘Angle of Attack’ is so critical at the higher levels of Judo.

‘Angle of Attack’ simply refers to the ideal 45 degree angle of your driving leg for the technique.  Imagine, if you will, pushing a refrigerator into position… it’s inconceivable that you’d be at anything other than a 45 degree angle, relative to the refrigerator, if you’re trying your utmost to move it.  For nature decrees that this is the most efficient and powerful angle.  Even children know this, instinctively.  Grab a 6 year old, and tell him/her to push the wall as hard as they can - they will end up in the perfect ‘angle of attack’ without anyone teaching them.

The next time you’re reviewing ‘101 Ippons’, or any similar video showing high level competition, look for the angle of attack, and you’ll see it time and time again.  For without it, you can’t off-balance an opponent who can naturally keep his balance in the most trying of circumstances.  Balance, after all, is one thing that is dramatically different between a white belt and a black belt - the black belt has many years of experience at keeping his, and the white belt often loses his with the least provocation.