Kuzushi is a concept I borrowed from Judo but influenced by a type of meditation I studied years ago. The general idea is to off balance or break your opponent’s balance before applying a throwing technique. The thinking being that an off-balance opponent is easier to throw than a stable and balanced one. The idea is absolutely fascinating to me, so of course I nerded out super hard on it and tried to extrapolate from there to find as many ways as possible to disrupt my opponents. If you zoom outwards and look at the concept as a whole, at what Kuzushi actually does, you could look at it as the ability to create a gap in your opponent’s awareness. Sort of like when a computer freezes and the hourglass (or pinwheel for Mac users) starts spinning on the screen. The thing is, in practical applications, the freeze is often just for a fraction of a second.
There are many ways to create the “pause.” In real life, the effect can be demonstrated by unexpectedly slipping on ice (where you forget about walking to the store for a split second and only care about not landing on your head) or that pause you feel mentally when you are trying to decide if your GPS is telling you to get off at this exit or the next one and the exit is rushing up on you quick.
While a full study of this idea is beyond the scope of this book, at it’s simplest level we are just destabilizing our opponent from the bottom of half guard for a split second to make them post out or pause so that we can carry out our plan without interruption. You can also accomplish a similar result by making your opponent worry about two or more things at the same time, which is something you will find when you threaten the back attack, a sweep, and the closed guard all at the same time.
Drills and the Micro Game
The drills in this instructional serve to reinforce the baseline skills which you must always have running in the background of your half guard game. These are like the apps on your phone which you never swipe off because you use them so often. Since our efforts are focused on a very specific segment of half guard, I call this playing the “micro game.” It is simply the smaller battles which help you win the war of the larger position and applies to any place where you experience a struggle on the way to completing your goal. While there are only a few drills listed here, chosen for their importance and relevance, you can make a micro game to play out of pretty much any sticking point or struggle area in a position, transition, or technique.
Being able to win these micro positions is crucial to playing this type of half guard (and really every position in grappling), so developing them is crucial. Remember though, that the drills should serve the experience, not the other way around, so your need to practice these drills should come from problems you come across in rolling. If you are already successful in these areas of half guard, then your efforts are better spent elsewhere.