The Transmission of Tsuki

By David Esteban Guzman
Inside of the Koryū (old currents; 古流) exist the “waza” (technique; 技) of Tsuki (突き). This technique contains great more depth in its meaning than the simple translation of the concept.

Interviewer: “Wasn’t it boring for a 17 year old to constantly and exclusively practice on just three techniques? (Tsuki – Uke – Keri).

Dr. Kacem Zoughari: “Not at all! Those three techniques don’t just have the simplified meaning most practitioners give them but represent many more things. Tsuki is not just a punch but a whole way (Form) of body movement, so you can penetrate through the adversary with one blow. It’s governed by the concept of one blow-one life.” – Interview with Dr. Kacem Zoughari – Dionysis Tsetselis, May, 2010

I think it’s very important to think and read between the lines in this sentence of the response: “Tsuki” is not just a punch but a whole way (Form  (流 – “ryū” – current) of body movement. “Tsuki” is a Form of body movement where the master transmits [1] to the practitioner the ability and the attitude to cross spaces, conditions and phases between one point and another. These points can be material, mental or emotional. All physical movement is preceded by a mental (conscious/subconscious) and emotional intention; therefore the technique of “Tsuki” is the transmission and understanding through the body, mind and heart as through any space between two circumstances by which something can penetrate. “Tsuki” could be a state of being willing to go through any situation, whether an adversary, an adverse situation, a challenge, a dream, a defeat, etc. of life.

kacem bo tsuki snapseed
Dr. Kacem Zoughari performing tsuki with a staff.

At this point I think it’s important to understand and assimilate one thing in the transmission of a “koryū” technique. The master does not teach, the master transmits and let the students research and develop for his own account, the student should be able to copy and understand in loneliness (though never alone) the sense and the technique that the master has transmitted to him, and should be able to open the eyes of the heart to keep alive the memory of the movement and transmission of the master. This happens until the time that happens until the pupil could return to meet to the source of the transmission. [2] The master represents 1% in the evolution of the student; the student is the 99% remaining of the practice, however that 1% is the connection to the Source, Form and inspiration of the Art. At this point every practitioner must meet with himself and 99% of his way, there is no better master than solitude and silence.

And what is going to cross the practitioner in the practice of the technique of “tsuki”?

First and most vital, he will learn to cross himself, to be self-critical with his own technique, to discern if his technique of “tsuki”, when facing any type of opponent and style, is real or superficial.

Second, goes to understand that it is not a question of becoming strong, but it is a question of learning to strengthen and to penetrate into a hardening based on patience and flexibility, and not into the force of the ego but into the depth of the heart. The body is a reflection of the internal states of the practitioner and his movement expresses the paradigms and spiritual state of the practitioner. Practice of that 99% is aimed to learning how to balance the emotions and thoughts, learn to know how to adapt and maintain a calm state of mind and the harmony in the heart in different circumstances of life, and learning to cultivate the flexibility and the ability to flow with a disciplined effort from one point to another.

“Tsuki” is a state of mind, the heart and the body, open and receptive to what happens within us and their reflection into the outside world. Third, he will learn to communicate through his “tsuki” with the “ukemi” (reception with the body, mind and heart of the circumstances of life; 受身) of his master, and will be able to absorb [3] all the necessary information to continue evolving every time that the student is in contact with the source (流), the art, and the movement of the master.

In the practice of the 99%, the student will meet with his limitations, fears and insecurities; “tsuki” is governed by the concept of “one blow, One life” (一期一会, Ichi-go ichi-e, literally “once, a meeting”), the experience acquired in life through the practice of a martial ART. The practitioner will understand that “tsuki” is a culture of movement, and as in all art, his technique of “tsuki” does not have a beginning nor an end, it is always evolving, the mind and the heart just as one gains experience in practice and in life, acquires depth of understanding, respect, flexibility and strengthening.

ishizuka taijutsu tsuki snapseed
Tetsuji Ishizuka sensei performing tsuki.

Once again the key to open every door is humility and inspiration from the love of an ART. Initially the “tsuki” of a practitioner is very infantile and weak, of gradual form with depth of practice it is turning into something less visible, the aim is to achieve an imperceptible and invisible “tsuki” for us ourselves (without intention) and for what we want to cross, already be it an adversary, a situation, etc. The “tsuki” is the key to learn to attack with any type of weapon used in the “Koryû”, the body and weapon are one. A sentence of Yagyū Munenori (柳生 宗矩, 1571 – May 11, 1646, founder of the Edo branch of Yagyū Shinkage-ryū;  新陰流) can accompany us in the process of assimilating this.

Although there exist a hundred different guards, the victory is gained with only one.

Apparently the movement of the photo accompanying this humble writing is just a basic technique, something gone out of fashion and in disuse at present, with the eyes of the depth of 99 % this photo reveals the movement and the Form of the martial art, the art of “tsuki”.

I have no fear of the man who has practiced 10,000 different fists once, but of the man who has practiced 10,000 times a fist.” Bruce Lee.


[1] Shinden (心伝), “Transmission by the spirit”, Taiden (体伝) “Transmission by the body”, and Kuden (口伝) “Oral transmission”.

[2] This connects with the concept within the “Koryû” of “Mirai no jutsu Gensai Kako” (过去现在未来之術). “Kako” means the past, “Genzai” means the present and “Mirai” means the future. This concept expresses that in the art created by the founder are all the aspects of the combat and strategy of the past, which will aid the disciple to confront and adapt to the current situation and the present moment, in order to live and practice in a state of harmony and presence, as well as to transmit the knowledge to the future generation and adapt himself to the future always in change.

[3] To absorb, this of great usefulness and reflects the “Gokui” (極意) or last state, that Takamatsu sensei left to his disciple Hatsumi sensei: “The heart of the glass is the heart of the water”


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