“Real kuzushi at a distance has real effects as it disrupts ukes initializing, targeting, tracking and capability to launch attack. It is a sort of preemptive aiki.”
It’s interesting seeing the beautiful variety of “no touch work” throwing/control applications demonstrated by several sensei on YouTube and Google videos lately — and it’s interesting to read the diversity of reactions to these demos. I remember back to the first time I felt the effect of “kuzushi at a distance” and to my green belt mind it did seem like magic ki powers.
It was in the early 1980’s and I was in a bout of intense toshu randori with my sensei. I had just gotten back to my feet and was maybe 12 feet away. I was locked on to my target and stepping forward to reengage my sensei with a frontal attack when, at this great distance, he made a sudden pointed gesture that seemed to freeze one half of my body in place. As the other half of my frame continued to move, the frozen side created postural distortion and collapse. I was laughing nervously to myself as I went into side fall, knowing that I had just bumped up against something strange and incomprehensible. It had felt like he had zapped me with a beam of pure will power and had somehow thrown me long before I could lay a hand on him.
These days, I see these effects as excellent perception (mitori), timing (hyoshi) and focus (kime) on the part of tori — and characteristic of sensitivity and receptivity on the part of uke. Such extraordinary throwing conditions are an interaction effect that happens in the relationship.
Many viewers of the videos respond that they feel that what they are seeing is just fake or that the ukes are overly conditioned or doing bad practice–on the fake part I can attest that I have seen demonstrations of this that are obviously prearranged and overdetermined (choreography can replicate the look of what is going on here) but that these effects are also sometimes completely “real” i.e. unrehearsed–spontaneous–naturally occurring reflex triggers. Real kuzushi at a distance has real effects as it disrupts ukes initializing, targeting, tracking and capability to launch attack. It is a sort of preemptive aiki. The attack is concluded before it has begun.
Expectations about uke and attack complicate the matter. Whatever type of uke a particular system or lineage of aiki creates/fosters/develops will determine and shape the type of nage(or tori) you end up with–from full on resistance and dampening of kuzushi to completely open and receptive fully embodying kuzushi with no interference–from characteristically wary and cautious to reckless and bold –under committed/overcommitted–uke teaches and informs nage(tori) with each response.
The reality of uke and attack is a spectrum of probability and remains indeterminate until the actual relationship develops. Most people think that this happens when the two bodies connect but that relationship begins long before physical contact is made–at the point of intention.