Picture a martial arts fight in your mind; what you’re likely to “see” are plenty of kicks, punches and blocks, maybe locks and throws, too; but what you will probably miss are the underlying principles that make each of these techniques and moves practical and effective. One of the fundamental principles of Ninjutsu is simple to describe, difficult to perfect, but potentially devastating once it is mastered: the principle of Breaking Balance, or as it is known in Japanese, Kuzushi.
Why is it so effective?
Because breaking balance limits your attacker’s mobility.
So? What will that do for you when he’s trying to beat, break, or kill you?
Here are three (of many!) reasons why balance breaking is vitally important in the ninja’s self-defense method:
1) Breaking balance severely limits the ability of an opponent to defend against a follow-up, possibly conflict-ending counter-attack from you.
2) Breaking balance effectively limits the reactive options, possible defense or counter-attack options, that an opponent might choose to employ.
3) Breaking balance can shock or disorient an opponent into a momentary lapse of focus, allowing the victim – you – to escape from the situation.
This does not mean that breaking the balance of an opponent is only a set-up for further actions. No, breaking the balance of an opponent can itself be the end-goal of a violent encounter because it may be enough to break the confidence of an assailant, causing them to flee the scene rather than you!
One of the interesting things about the principal of Breaking Balance is that it underlines the rich vein of strategy that runs throughout Ninjutsu. Ninjutsu does not aim to pit strength against strength, rather it seeks to undermine the advantages of the opponent and create openings that play to the strengths of the victim. In this way, a “weaker” opponent can beat a “stronger” one!
Imagine a thug’s surprise when he finds himself losing control of his own balance and unable to do anything about it as every move he makes brings him closer to defeat!
But how can you break the balance of an opponent?
Imagine that there is a line drawn between his heels; if you move him perpendicular to this line, he will be forced into a desperate backwards stagger, fighting to regain his balance!
Sounds great, huh? But maybe difficult, too?
YOU can learn this theory and how to effectively apply it through the study of Ninjutsu. But, in the words of a great martial arts master…
“Learning is easy, but action is difficult. And action is easy, but true understanding is difficult!”
The question is: