Randori No Waza
Randori (乱取り) is a term used in Japanese martial arts to describe free-style practice or sparring, sometimes with multiple attackers. The term literally means "chaos taking.” We are a defensive tactics dojo that places a big emphasis on close quarter combat. We use a traditional style of randori to test our student's ability to handle the stress of combat.
The exact meaning of randori depends on the martial art it is used in. In judo and Jujutsu systems, it most often refers to one-on-one sparring where partners attempt to resist and counter each other's techniques. In aiki styles, it refers to a form of practice in which a designated aikidoka defends against multiple attackers in quick succession without knowing how they will attack or in what order. This form of randori is not sparring, and the attackers are not allowed to resist or attempt to counter the defender's techniques.
Although in karate usually the word kumite is used for sparring, in some schools they also use the term randori for the "mock-combat" in which both karatekas move very fast, attempting and parrying acts of extreme violence with all four limbs (including knees, elbows, etc.) and yet never making other than the lightest contact. Total control of the body is necessary and therefore usually only the senior grades can practice randori. In these schools, the distinction between randori and kumite is that in randori the action is not interrupted when a successful technique is applied.
Randori may be contrasted with kata, as two potentially complementary types of training. The emphasis is first on throwing techniques. Throwing practice is more valuable to both physical and spiritual training. Becoming too involved in grappling early in one's training makes it unlikely that nage-waza will be mastered.
There is no sport or tournament activity in the Mizukan, although there is a strong practice of (not competitive) randori ("free training"). The intent of our randori practice is for both training partners to explore the possibilities open to them and take part in the learning experience. At some point we actually seem to transcend worrying about who "wins or loses." What is really important is good technique and taking care of our partner while we both learn.
We first learn randori by going very slowly with movements full of intent but with relaxed muscles. The use of power or brute force is discouraged. When we sense a need for more power it means a change in direction and body relationships is required. All of us make the mistake of trying to overcome force with more force as we are learning. During the learning process, though, we come to understand that adding force and speed when something isn't working only exacerbates the problem.
The only "cooperation" or agreement in our practice is for uke (the giver) to provide an attack full of intent (no matter what speed and power is being used) and to continue to be dangerous to tori (the taker). Tori blends with the speed, focus, intent, and energy of the attack, gains the lead and ultimately "fits" whatever waza (technique) that naturally happens. If the technique isn't successful, then uke attempts to turn the tables on tori. Uke and tori continue to make moves and counter moves until something happens which can't be countered.
After much quality practice our randori leads us to spontaneous creative decision making where things just seem to happen out of nowhere. This is the essence of true budo. As experience and skill levels increase, the ability to train at full speed and power is attained.
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