by Elie A. Morrell, Shichidan

Judo To effect a successful throwing technique requires proper preparatory moves. The opponent must be driven into an unstable position to facilitate throwing him. Before describing an unstable position we should first define a stable position as it applies to the opponent.

When the opponent is standing in shizenhontai, his weight is supported by the upward force of the floor against the soles of both feet. The opponent’s Center of Gravity (CG) is located approximately at the belt line. The CG is acting downward midway between the two feet. Stability is thus maintained by keeping the line of action of the CG within the base of support, namely the two feet.

Preparatory moves are meant to disturb the CG and to move it outside the region of the base of support, thus making the opponent unstable. These moves are achieved by the application of what is technically called a torque on the opponent’s body. Torque itself is not a force but is a measure of the effectiveness of a force to produce some sort of rotation on the body, thus disturbing the CG and ultimately causing instability, or breaking of the balance. The application of torque on the opponent varies considerably and is governed by the type of technique attempted by the attacker.

Judo is a sport which embodies the total use of the basic principles involving torque and the maintaining of balance. Throwing techniques require skillful maneuvers that force the opponent’s CG to be shifted outside the base of support. These maneuvers are accompanied by the use of one’s body to create the necessary torque in order to effectively complete the throw.

A classic example of torque application is readily apparent in the throw ogoshi. In this technique, tori’s entry requires lowering of the hips with CG emplacement below the CG of the uke. Tori’s hips act as the pivot point. The resultant torque is produced by the hikite arm (pulling) which causes rotation about tori’s hips. Uke at this point is helpless to counter the rotation.

If a throwing technique is to succeed, tori must move with uke and push or pull in such a way as to render him unstable. This constitutes the preparatory moves for the attack. The proper application of these moves is not with the use of the hands and arms alone but must include the use of body movement, whether advancing or retreating. Done properly, the uke should be unaware of the oncoming preparatory move. Perhaps the best time to initiate preparatory moves is when uke is making a voluntary move… a move that is self-induced.

Let us now take a look at what preparatory moves really are. It is universally recognized that any successful throwing technique is made up of tsukuri, kuzushi, and kake. No one questions the meaning of kake. It is simply the culmination of an attack, or in simple terms the throwing action. The relationship between tsukuri and kuzushi oftentimes is not clearly understood. The most common interpretation of kuzushi and tsukuri are breaking the balance and fitting the body into position respectively.

In the text by Kazuzo Kudo entitled “Dynamic Judo” (throwing techniques) he states and I quote:

“To apply a technique to your opponent you must move together with him and push him and pull him in such a way that you force him into a posture in which your attack is easy to make and in which he is easily thrown. This is what we call the preparatory moves, or in Japanese, the tsukuri.”

He further states:

“Getting your opponent into a position in which it is easy to down him is called breaking his posture (kuzushi).”

G.R. Gleeson in his text “Anatomy of Judo” defines tsukuri as follows:

“The action done by tori to make uke move into the direction of the throw.” He further defines kuzushi as: “the loss of control by uke as a direct result of tsukuri.”

Both of these authors have defined the meaning of tsukuri and kuzushi in the same manner. Based on these definitions it is apparent that the tsukuri action has nothing to do with fitting into position! However tsukuri and kuzushi are very closely linked in the throwing sequence.

sasae tsurikomi ashi To better appreciate the definitions of tsukuri and kuzushi by Kudo and Gleeson, consider the “fitting in” theory of such techniques as de ashi barai, sasae tsurikomi ashi, yoko otoshi, sumi otoshi, uki otoshi, and hiza guruma, to name a few. It is obvious that fitting in does not apply for these techniques and others not mentioned. Fitting in for many of the throws is certainly a requirement. If Kudo’s and Gleeson’s definitions of tsukuri and kuzushi are accepted as fact, then some new definition of fitting in would be required.

It should be noted that Kazuzo Kudo’s definition of tsukuri specifically mentions that tori and uke are moving together. This is very key to throwing techniques. There must be some motion of tori and uke if judo is to be considered a dynamic motor skill. The nage no kata demonstrates clearly that judo is not a static motor skill. It is the key element of motion by the tori and uke that makes it easier for an attacker to drive the CG of the opponent outside the region of the base of support.

Static throwing techniques are invaluable when initially teaching throws to students. This enables the student to learn the proper mechanical moves required to accomplish the throw. What should ultimately follow is instruction involving movement for these techniques.

In conclusion, preparatory moves for throwing must involve motion that shifts the opponent’s CG off his base of support. The correct understanding of the relationship of tsukuri and kuzushi is of secondary importance compared to understanding the requirements associated with preparatory moves required for successful throwing techniques.

Bibliography: Kazuzo Kudo, Dynamic Judo, “Throwing Techniques,” Japan Publications Trading Company, November 1967. G.R. Gleeson, Anatomy of Judo, A.S. Barnes & Co., Inc. 1969


“Do not think of attack and defense as two separate things. An attack will be a defense, and a defense must be an attack.” –Kazuzo Kudo, 9th dan

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