There are eight basic directions of kuzushi – backwards, forwards, side to side, and the four corners. Sometimes people refer to them as the compass points – north, south, east, west, and the four diagonals of northwest, northeast, southwest, and southeast. Yet another way to visualize this is points on the clock – twelve o’clock, three, six, nine, and so on.
As Leon Sensei likes to point out, there are actually 360 directions of off balancing, one for each degree of a circle. Learning the correct direction for each throw is part of your judo basics. For instance, tai-otoshi is classically practiced as a forward throw. But you can also throw tai-otoshi to the side, or anywhere in that quadrant between straight forward and all the way to the side. Many people prefer to off-balance their partner towards the diagonal, with tai-otoshi and many other throws.