Judo Ron 63- RANDORI an Educational Wizard
In my last discussion (judo-Ron 62)i I reviewed the role of the coaches and mentors and how you can optimize your judo with their assistance. In this current essay, I shall approach the common form of Randori with the view to abstract the possibilities to better share the knowledge and the technique gained by it as you pursue your quest towards judo excellence. In September 2011, the American coach Neil Ohlenkampii expressed the importance of Randori training as follow: “The mat is a place to create opportunities and see possibilities, facing and overcoming one's limitations. Randori (free practice) is the primary method of learning the many lessons of Judo.” I identified the Randori as one of the most important activity through which both knowledge and skills are exchanged amongst friends, judoka and with other dojo members. You are likely to encounter various forms of Randori practiced in dojo. There are: the free practices where both players do their best to score; the activity of role playing where one plays the offense and the other, the defense; a period where no counters are formulated; a moment where emphasis is placed on developing Tokui waza and the exercise involving alternate throwing moments. Dojo Culture Past experience has demonstrated that in most dojo, the transfer of knowledge and skills during the training period is mostly viewed as an activity between the teacher and the student and that knowledge sharing amongst peers is not a common practice. Responding to local demands, many clubs instructors will not be able to adequately work on individual performance enhancements. The sharing of information amongst different groups and grade levels is not a significant part of the dojo culture. In smaller dojo the educational atmosphere might be different. Knowledge sharing becomes more manageable as everyone knows everybody else and there is a greater amount of trust being displayed amongst players of all ranks. Within smaller groups, there are more common interests in the pursuit of judo improvements and less tendencies to outsmart and outperform the other students at the game. One prominent obstacle found in larger organizations is that the notions of “knowledge” “superiority” and “skills” attainments are viewed as individual properties and that their ownerships are very important to the success of those individuals so empowered. This ownership is frequently understood as being that which will separate the elite groups from the common students. Student’s rank standing or class status is often attached to their knowledge and skill levels. It is common knowledge that:” It is what you know and not what you share that matters”. As a result of this pseudo hierarchy, in many dojos where knowledge is not shared, some negative consequences can become more noticeable: Groups will tend to be segmented, junior ranks more isolated and the development of some forms of resistance to new ideas will appear along with an indifference towards new students.

Collectivity versus Individuality In order to counteract the impression of group isolation, it is my view that we must try to implant a more suitable judo culture which will go beyond the basic introduction to principles and where everyone, regardless of rank and stature, will be encouraged to share tactical information and skills techniques with each other’s in order to gain greater and more profitable returns from their participation. As we address different situations and formulate alternative solutions to combat situations and problems within the Randori, we can better share knowledge and gain from the different viewpoints. As we try to promote more knowledge sharing and remove that pseudo special status syndrome, we must continue to encourage all players to come forward and develop new discovery and innovations. “Nothing under the sun is greater than education. By educating one person and sending him into the society of his generation, we make a contribution extending a hundred generations to come.” Jigoro Kano Progress is dependent upon knowledge and experience. It has been said that: “Strength is relative to good health, speed comes from efforts, techniques are obtained from experiences, willpower derived from faith, serenity is from old knowledge and progress comes from new knowledge.” (Author unknown) If we follow that trend of thought, we are sure to discover the true educational wizardry of Randori. Performing well in Randori I am sure that by now, you have had your share of advices for better performing during Randori practices. Amongst the most repeated recommendations you may have heard are: There is no winner or loser, focus on attacking freely without considering the possibilities of being thrown, relax and retain free movement of your body and mind. Other sets of advices may have involved other trends such as: Follow through with each technique; practice with as many judoka as possible; seek out all the opportunities to test yourself with all kinds of partners; experiment with new techniques as much as possible and try to develop your shouting techniques of “Kiai” in order to gain extra power during the latter stage of performing a throw. There is also some value in repeating the following principles: Learn to read your partner's intentions and anticipate the attacks; focus on the Kuzushi and adjust your movements within different spaces; do not forget to turn your head in the direction you are throwing e.g. (nose follow toes) and rotate your body. I have no doubt that your sensei will have stressed the need to take care of your opponent in order to avoid injury. He or she will also have reminded you that you should help your partner to learn while perfecting your own technique. This is where the gist of this presentation is leading us.

Randori period, a sharing opportunity By making the Randori period a sharing opportunity, where both players exchange information on their performance, it will be possible to create a synergy leading to the emergence of a new form of collective intelligence about potential combat situations. Doing so will ensure that we can grow from the continuous feedback of others. I am of the opinion that it is by sharing information and experiences within a mixed group that we can gain enriched judo proficiency. Because of the judoka’s common interest to improve their knowledge and judo skills, there can emerge a stronger learning community and thus, better judoka. The community must complement the teacher’s influence. You can rely on the teacher or sensei to teach you the fundamentals: you will learn how to absorb the fall, to stand properly in natural posture, to execute the basic techniques following the three steps and perform basic techniques in linear directions (Kuzushi-Tsukuri-Kake). You will often repeat and rehearse the fundamentals. You will also be taught the importance of kinetic chains and the need for coordination when you perform the Uchi Komi. You will have learned how best to use your body mass and apply different levers to maximize diverse techniques during Nage Komi exercises. Within the assigned pedagogical program, when teaching the Gokyo syllabus, the teacher will make the necessary variations in their delivery to accommodate the needs of the majority of the class. Limited by time and class composition, the number of personal interventions will vary considerably when they are teaching the introduction, the basics or the advanced class because the knowledge management and the transfer efforts are typically concentrated on key objectives. It is to be expected that the One on One teaching opportunities focusing on improved performance, gaining more competitive savvy, sharing of lessons learned, integrating new techniques and working upon continuous improvement are more likely to be occasional incidences rather than regular practices. Some of you will have the occasion to learn part of the Nage No Kata where you will demonstrate your understanding of the throwing principles which include the transfer of force, the placement of Kuzushi and transmission of momentum. All the above exercises are either of the static or linear dimensions. The dynamic and free application of techniques is yet to be discovered. This is a reason why we should to resort to the Randori as a complementary educational tool.


The Randori offers other opportunities to compensate for this absence of intimate learning experiences. It provides for the development of dynamic performances based on hazard, strategy and subtle preparation. Within it, you will discover the application of combat rules and ways to cope with the unforeseen circumstances which will help you score or neutralize your opponents. Over the years, I have experienced that with proper guidance and discipline in performing Randori, the judoka can go beyond the use of lateral movements. He is able to learn and to include in his array of techniques, supplementary rotational concepts and apply more unorthodox techniques necessitating torque and spiral dimensions to best respond to various situations. When several Randori take place simultaneously, the teacher cannot capture all the beautiful success and share them with the class. These additional performances must not escape the eyes of the students-partner and need to be shared. It is easier to better manage such an exchange of collective knowledge between judoka when they are willing to share their experiences by expressing to the other what they observed; discussing tactics, strategies, insights and experiences and by analyzing strategies used during those Randori periods. To gain from these exchanges, we must find the appropriate moment or opportunity to stop or pause, look and listen and then, experiment with the new discoveries. The need to share We have to recognize that such participative learning experiences as those encountered during or after a Randori have for origins our basic needs to conquer and are fed by the gains we make from knowing the diverse solutions expressed by the training partners. In these informal exchanges, the relative questions concerning the strengths of the opponents, the direction of the forces, the preparatory stages, the application of the kumi kata, the choices of direction, the speed of displacement, the location of contact points and the overall coordination needed will form part of the synthesis for the discussion. The appreciation of the situation will exploit the knowledge, the experience and the skills deployed from both training partners. It simultaneously transforms each of the participants into an apprentice and a trainer. In this context, the participants can learn from and teach by their combined actions. The informal learning experience is more valuable than the formal class transmission as it is accomplished with live actors and within an ambiance where both participants feel reasonably comfortable. Overall, it gives a better perspective and understanding of the global combat situation. It permits a better appreciation of the judoka’s values, attitudes, skills and knowledge. It allows the judoka to better discover their talents and their hidden capacities, while experiencing with different problem-solutions and decision-making. Finally, it develops increased self-confidence and leadership.


Educational Opportunities. Randori is a free opportunity where you can perform your techniques (offense and defense) as best as you can. In 1961, professors Saburo Matsushita and Warwick Steptoeiii described three different learning opportunities associated with the Randori: practicing with inferiors, with equals and with much more seasoned judoka. Juniors To maximise your experience when practicing with inferiors, you should be trying to apply known techniques and add secondary techniques which you can try on the left and right sides. You may attempt some Renraku or combination techniques to help you understand the value of following up on the direction of movements or make use of the push and pull principle. During those experiences, you should avoid using your special/Tokui-waza for fear of developing some form of mental or physical laziness during the performance. Peers When practicing with equals, you have to pay more attention to the rules and tactics. Try not to transform the practice into a contest between the two. Respect the offense and defense attempts without adopting a severe defensive posture which will impede your free actions. You should instead attack with your best throws, as strongly and as quickly as possible. You should try to construct your approaches and develop transparency in action. Do not risk injury to save a point but accept the lesson resulting from the fault you made. You have nothing to lose and should try to move more lightly with emphasis on zigzag and rotational motions to alter your velocity, adjust your distances and gain strength/power in your attack.


Seniors Do not be afraid to practice with superiors as you can learn a lot from them. In general, you should try to be on the offensive most of the time and avoid slipping away from good throws and being on the defensive too much. Attack with all your heart and soul many, many times, and do not wait for the higher grade to attack. Try to discern the ways and means taken to develop the attack; note the TAI SABAKI used; what form of kumi kata precede each technique; how distance and velocity are controlled and with what precision are the different levers and Kuzushi applied. In general, the more senior judoka is not interested in making multiple Ippon but will likely concentrate on improvements. He wants to control the match and will let you attack often. He will normally decide when to stop the exercise, be patient and attentive for he will likely give you advices on how to improve your own method.

Sharing information

Recapitulation of your total experiences Do not despair with your first experiences in dealing with the numerous Ukemi and the Gokyo repetitions. The sensei provides the necessary information by using diverse processes, among which are: a structured overview of the material, the demonstrations, the comparisons, the contrasts and the didactic questions which are followed with ample exercises, repetitions, rehearsals and relevant applications. To learn by heart the sequences of each technique and to repeat the main movements are useful to progress well. It is well known that the repetition or rehearsal is an elementary mechanism of the memory. Generally, you will need tens, sometimes even hundreds of repetitions to learn the correct sequences and be able to employ all the elements.


When performing the Nage Komi exercises you will have the opportunity to do some brainstorming as you will focus on a definite problem, or technique. Moving freely on the tatami and trying to find the right moment and the right opportunity you will need to let materialize your choices of solution deliberately and without pre-established order. When you are engaged in Randori, you establish a fundamental social link with your partner as you exchange and share experiences. That kind of experiment is very positive because it is linked with some practical and immediate result. During the Randori process, you will have defined problems together and applied your joint creativity skills to find the most appropriate solution to the current event. The identified solution may also be useful to you in the future. Keep your memory alive Not to lose everything of what you learnt, I encourage you to draft your personal journal. The exercise of keeping a personal journal will facilitate the retention of your experiences; it keeps track of your ideas and experiences. You can note your reflections and adds personal comments about your new discoveries. It becomes a reminder and a tool for better learning and retention.

The judo pedagogy has been practiced for over a century; every teacher has added personal touches and expressions. You as a student need to make yours, the judo techniques that will benefit you most. There are multiple opportunities to learn from your sensei, your peers and from yourself. If you want to excel, you have to make the best of your training. Have a good session. Ronald Désormeaux Judo Teacher, Hart House dojo, University of Toronto November 2012 References
i ii iii

Ronald Désormeaux, Judo-Ron WWW.Scribd.com Neil Ohlenkamp, Rules of Randori, Judo Info, Online Judo, September 2011 Saburo Matsushita and Warwick Steptoe, Contest Judo, 1961.

Note: This article contains copyrights© and is registered with the Canadian Electronic Data Bank of the National Library of Canada.
It may not be reproduced for commercial venture without the permission of the author. For more information, contact the author at Ronalddesormeaux@gmail.com


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