Though not limited to judo, particularly true in judo is the advantage a good mind, a large body, and great strength bring. On the other hand, people so blessed sometimes rely on their size and strength and try techniques that are too much; they try to push or twist their opponents down and only succeed in hurting their opponent or themselves. The end of all this is that people of this sort never understand what judo techniques are about.
People who are small and weak, on the other hand, know from the beginning that they cannot trust in their strength alone and work very hard to master the judo techniques. They study to apply their techniques and escape from their opponents by means of proper body movement— advance-retreat actions—and after many years of training progress to become judo masters. What we mean to say by this is that a big body and great strength are not helpful to everyone. These blessings are like a treasure with which a person is born. As long as that person fails to understand the proper use of his treasure, he should by no means waste it in fruitless violence.
I feel that I must warn beginners sternly on this point, because in recent times a great many young people possessed of fine strapping bodies and great strength are aiming for judo mastery. Of course, if these young people will earnestly study and train and master the spirit of judo they can certainly become the unrivaled judo champions of the whole world.
In connection with this, I must make some comments about using one’s spirit and using one’s strength.
By using one’s spirit I mean keeping calm but alert and full of energy, relaxing your arms and legs, and being free but completely aware and responsive to what is going on around you. This spiritual condition also involves accepting your opponent’s techniques and not attempting to rashly resist him.
By using your strength we mean exactly the opposite, that is, giving precedence to the power of your body and of your arms and resisting your opponent and consequently tensing your limbs and making your body heavy and hard. This deprives your body of freedom and is a far cry from the right road to judo progress. In judo, from ancient times, use of the spirit has always had the upper hand over use of bodily strength.
The basics of applying force
Kyuzo Mifune (tenth dan) says that if your opponent pushes turn your body, if he pulls step out on a diagonal. What he means is that you should not put yourself in a condition in which your opponent cannot down you, you should always maintain that condition. If he pushes, instead of receiving the force of his push straight on, bend your body back to the right or to the left. If he pulls you, reduce the force of his pull to nothing by stepping forward on a slant. If you do this you can always preserve your body’s balance, and you will always be in a condition in which your opponent cannot down you. This is a very good reference point to bear in mind in connection with applications of force. 3. Generating force We have been talking about applying force, but we should now turn our attention to concentrating all of your body’s strength in the spot where you need it at the right instant. You must be able to do this immediately and boldly, but this is impossible if you have kept your body tense and filled with strength even before you need to use it. As we have already said, keep your entire body relaxed — not loose and limp, of course — but flexible so that you can generate the force you need. Be sure you have a thorough understanding of this point. As you become more experienced through practice and as your proficiency with the techniques increases, you will learn that there are a number of variations you can work on the appearance of a technique through changes in tempo, thick or thin movements, power or weakness, straight lines or curved lines, circular or horseshoe shapes. You will also clearly see what makes a technique work and what causes one to fail. In judo, as in all things, we must practice and use our heads to devise better ways of doing things.
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