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According to Judo textbooks and diagrams there are 8 points of balance that can be used to topple an opponent/bring an opponent to kuzushi. When Aikido practitioners talk about kuzushi (which not all do) they talk about the same 8 points of balance and draw out much the same diagram.

However when we talk about the same concept (kuzushi) in Shorinji Kempo all the diagrams show 6 points of balance instead! The two missing ones are directly to the left of the person's left foot and directly to the right of the person's right foot.

In judo the extra points make a lot of sense because kuzushi is achieved by directly applying a force to the opponents body. From a position of manipulating only the wrist and arm I can't actually see how kuzushi through these two points can be achieved.

Can anyone help with this?

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This image shows the part of the feet where the centre of gravity is for each point of kuzushi in judo. This second image shows their use in aikido techniques... But I can't actually tell what is going on in the two diagrams relating to migi yoko and hidari yoko.
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    Reminder to be cautious of "just so" stories justifying the use of 8 in pre-war Japanese martial arts. Even if the explanation makes sense, its status as a lucky number figures in to some degree. Jul 16, 2023 at 20:31
  • Thanks @DaveLiepmann. That's a good point.
    – Huw Evans
    Jul 16, 2023 at 20:40
  • Would help to see such a diagram included in the body of the question. Jul 18, 2023 at 18:56
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    Can you clarify the title? Unless I am mistaken, kuzushi relates to balance, but not a thing to be performed. Text and commentary do seem to clear that up.
    – Andrew Jay
    Jul 28, 2023 at 16:54
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    @AndrewJay Thanks, good spot. All done.
    – Huw Evans
    Jul 29, 2023 at 21:09

2 Answers 2

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Most judo references use eight directions (happo no kuzushi): front, back, left, right, and the corners between these directions. This divides directions about uke's body in equal sectors.

The number of directions is not exclusively considered to be eight. Kazuzo Kudo 9th dan, in Dynamic Judo Throwing Techniques chooses to present 14 directions:

  • front, back, left, and right
  • two directions for each rear corner
  • three directions for each front corner

Many judo instructors stop with discussion of eight directions. However, off-balancing a static, non-compliant person is not equally easy in all directions. It's easiest perpendicular to the line between their feet, and hardest in the line between their feet (left and right). If you were to prioritize some angles over others, the left and right directions are the most logical to eliminate because trying to off-balance someone in those directions is the least efficient.

With movement, the description of how someone is off-balanced is very complicated. The direction that tori applies force may change, uke may turn or step, and it's never been clear to me how the static happo no kuzushi concept is interpreted in this situation. If uke ends up off-balanced to what was originally their front corner, but only after uke steps back to make that direction now their front, is this the front or front corner? I have not met anyone who cared about that level of detail; most consider only the static model and consider it sufficient to say you can off-balance in eight directions, leaving students to work out the rest.

So can all eight directions be used? Yes, depending on how you count directions with movement.

Examples to attack balance to side:

  1. side with arm control: make partner step, extend step to side. This is easier with elbow control than wrist control because there will be more slack from the wrist.
  2. far side with arm/wrist control: push arm across partner's body, follow with cross-body osoto gari. For left-versus-right gripping situations where you are lined up more side-to-side than straight on, you won't be able to attack towards the rear before losing the advantage of the cross arm.
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  • Thanks for the answer mattm. I'm actually asking about how this changes if you only have control via the wrist or arm. I don't question the use of this many directions in Judo. (Also although I know what you mean by Tori and Uke here these terms don't always mean the same thing across different styles)
    – Huw Evans
    Jul 17, 2023 at 9:00
  • Those are very interesting examples... I would never use the "side" balance point for either though. Mechanically it's very sub-optimal compared with the other 3 balance points to the front in example 1 or back in example 2.
    – Huw Evans
    Jul 17, 2023 at 14:27
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    @HuwEvans kuzushi sideways is, normally, linked to movement sideways and a combination of blocking the foot and overemphasising the sideways impetus. Judo does not use that direction otherwise AFAIK. Jul 18, 2023 at 19:40
  • @PhilipKlöcking That is my experience of it too. But the other styles don't seem to use it at all. I suspect at this point that they just borrowed judo's diagram.
    – Huw Evans
    Jul 18, 2023 at 21:02
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These points of balance should be understood as points (or areas) over which the center of gravity can transverse in order to break balance. Therefore, as the balance is evidently broken when the center of gravity passes that point, leaving the area supporting the weight, it is valid (in a sense).

So, how could the balance possibly be broken over the outer sidelines of the foot with controlling just the arm/wrist? A natural reaction when your arm or wrist is trapped is to pull, ie. square with the opponent.

But, for example: if you have their left wrist 2 on 1 and their left foot in front, kick away their right leg even further with a low kick to the inner thigh and turn directly right on you right leg as soon as it touches the floor, into a kote gaeshi (having that in mind, you obviously need to manipulate the balance accordingly on the way). There is quite the chance the due to the feet being further apart, it will result in kuzushi over this balance point.

Variants of o-soto-gari, as mattm mentions, can also result in that (only found this video in a short search where you can see, especially in the last take, that it can be very much sideways and could just as well be thrown with two arms controlled). The most common example in Judo textbooks is yoko-otoshi. Both require at least one wrist and one (upper) arm controlled.

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  • To be honest that's not what I see happening in that video... To me every time the foot is moved the coordinates of these 8 directions change. So because the centre of balance actually moves backwards I would say it is over the heal not over the outside of the foot. In fact the only time I can ever think of using these 'extra two points' is in 5 step drills where you sweep from actual sideways motion.
    – Huw Evans
    Jul 19, 2023 at 21:30
  • youtu.be/ORNPnqy9Qn8 this video shows a sideways motion but it's the only example I have ever seen.
    – Huw Evans
    Jul 19, 2023 at 21:36
  • @HuwEvans Since balance is dynamic, a static thinking makes no sense. Yes, there is a slight break of balance in another direction when setting the throw up, so what? The resulting throw is towards the mentioned point of balance. These points are always relative to foot position etc. or else there was no breaking of balance when the opponent is on one foot only. Jul 20, 2023 at 12:50
  • What do you actually mean by static thinking? I am saying that the 8 points are always relative to the foot positions of the opponent so if you change foot position the 8 points move. Nothing static about that.
    – Huw Evans
    Jul 20, 2023 at 13:34
  • @HuwEvans The point is that yes, there is a break of balance over the heels when the sweep is done. That's what provokes a repositioning with a shift of balance towards the opposite direction (pendulum movement is a foundational concept of Judo) which, depending on the particular situation, can lead towards a second break of balance over the point of balance in question. Jul 20, 2023 at 14:25

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