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Skill Mastery With Israel Hernandez

Skill Mastery With Israel Hernandez

As the now iconic saying by Brue Lee goes “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times”. It’s really easy to forget this simple piece of wisdom from a pioneering martial artist in the age of YouTube and Instagram where we see new techniques, infinite variations, so many different opinions on what good training is and some shiny new “breakthrough”. 

It’s easy to overlook the hard work of deciding to master a skill, investing in your knowledge, and putting in the hard work to achieve your goal. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype and noise online. 

That’s why it was so great to see the 2019 Judo Worlds and what an incredible display of skill and dedication they are. The Worlds showcase some of the best grappling ability on the planet and often shows athletes that have mastery over a specific aspect of the game. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu found out in the early days of its development within Vale Tudo, no rules challenge matches, that if a fighter could take their opponent into an area of the fight that their opponent was unskilled in compared to them, in the case of BJJ that was ground fighting, then this fighter would have a massively disproportionate chance of victory.

As BJJ has gained in popularity more people are wise to the power of ground fighting and so the strategy of gaining the advantage has become more subtle. As BJJ Fanatics instructor John Danaher has shown it now pays to have a hyper-specialised aspect to one’s game that a fighter can take their opponent into and attain victory even against much more generally experienced players. The same is true of Judo.

Here we see in the Judo Worlds 2019 Japan’s Ono Shohei repeatedly use his incredibly high level Uchi Mata. Ono Shohei has spent so much time studying Uchi Mata he even wrote a Masters thesis on Uchi Mata! Even though his opponents will know that he wants to use Uchi Mata they simply cannot stop it, as his experience with this technique is often levels above theirs.  

No throw is possible without kuzushi, or breaking our opponents balance. Kuzushi is a foundational and core concept within Judo that has a lot of depth to it. Kuzushi is something that if we are serious about our standing work we need to invest time, knowledge, and training so that we can master it.

Without kuzushi, we can’t throw. With kuzushi, we can throw easily. Click Learn More!


Kuzushi applies both to tachi waza (standing techniques) as well as ne waza (ground techniques) and the Judoka seeks to break their opponents balance while retaining their own balance in order to decisively throw.

This high level of mastery of kuzushi can be seen in all the Uchi Mata throws Ono Shohei demonstrates at this years Judo Worlds, which demonstrates to us that kuzushi is worth some serious and ongoing study if we are to improve our standing game.

Fortunately for us Olympic Judoka Bronze medalist Israel Hernandez has an entire four video series exclusively on the subject of Kuzushi, including an entire video on the high percentage technique Ono Shohei demonstrates at the highest levels of competition, Uchi Mata!

Creating Kuzushi by Israel Hernandez
So if you want to start to dominant the most crucial aspect of the standing game, which is off balancing our opponent so that we can throw them for positive controlling positions on the ground, then check out Creating Kuzushi by Israel Hernandez here!