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Zuihitsu-Random notes on judo by Ronald Dsormeaux

The Shiai route: Yakusoku geiko / Butsukari/Randori ( JUDO-RON 46) Perception of judo competition In the past years, I was fortunate to practice my judo in several locations. I have discovered that in many quarters, judokas of all ranks carry misconceptions of judo training practices and frequently confuse one type of exercise with another. For example, when someone is asked to perform Uchikomis, the tendency is to practice the static types with heavy resistance and seldom entertained doing the Nage-Komi or the more dynamic exercise. When asked to enter into a Randori, several senior judokas soon get involved in total competition or Shiai mood and forget the basic judo ethical principles of giving appropriate respect and attention in consideration of their partners age, rank and competency. Too many adherents are left ignorant of the general safety levels to be applied in such training activities which were formulated in the judos second principle of Mutual Respect and Benefits. In martial arts and combative sports, one is always eager to test his or her skills against a training partner even when the latter has become a strong opponent. Are there simple and safe ways to train to get to the top? My former judo instructors always made emphasis that one must learn all the techniques in their finest details, study conscientiously how and when to apply them and always train with devotion and courage. They recommended seeking and working with a variety of partners and always maintaining both the initiative and freedom of movement. With some retrospectives, I can now say that their recommendations were instrumental in forming a pattern where I could ensure that my training process and similarly that of my colleagues was leading us to perform better at Shiai or competition. We found that our participation was enhanced by knowing that if we properly followed their recommendations, we would also benefit from the true values of judo. By being better prepared and more inclined to contemplate other events beyond the Shiai we could anticipate some success in our pursuit of higher judo ranks. Legacy from past teachers I was fortunate to witness how their training methods were adjusted to meet our goals and desires while they still maintained the proper alignments with the original judo principles as outlined by Jigoro Kano Shi-han in 1882. I have learned from Sensei Mikinosuke Kawaishi, Bernard Gauthier and others who made the emphasis that one must first seek technical excellence and make continued personal and mental improvements while always showing proper respect towards the various training partners. It was a common understanding then and it is still a fundamental principle. When these basic conditions are met, and only then, can you modify your training goals to seek either a total victory or superiority over any or all competitors who dare to challenge you.

Zuihitsu-Random notes on judo by Ronald Dsormeaux


Judo has always remained a trilogy: Shin Gi Tai ; the mental energy forging the technical skills properly expressed through the body. Judo is also seen as having three complementary facets: a physical and social education system, a sporting activity, and the continuity of an ancient martial art. More to competition training that meets the eye When we refer to judo as a combative sport, we can quickly think of three levels of entertainment. The first combat atmosphere can be defined as the training practice where the individuals simulate a confrontation rendezvous with his or her partner. It is accomplished with very limited interference, such as when practicing Uchikomis or often referred as Kakari renshu (repetition training) which consist of making repetitive applications of a technique on a partner who anticipate the action and receive the technique with different resistance. This exercise has for purpose the practice of breaking the balance, shifting the body, making contact and exercising a strong Waza at different speed without completing the throw. The second form of contact training ambiance can be described as the dynamic and limited opposition by both partners who define their respective roles during a short encounter. This is referred to as Yakusoku and we shall address that exercise hereunder. The third conflicting situation into which the judoka will embark is the Randori. In the latter, both players will try to outsmart and oppose the other with all their technical skills. Format for Shiai/competition Judo is of course perceived by most practitioners at the mudansha level (lower ranks) as a confronting sport between individuals. They are likely referring to the Shiai or true competition. The latter is not to be considered a training platform but as a salient experience where offense and defense tactics and skills are prominent. First, the players try to identify the intentions of the other and attempt to discover the signals which will give away the mental strength or weakness of the opponent. It is followed by visual confrontations and mental challenges. Then, there is the struggle for the Kumi Kata (seizure) on the costume which is followed with the various body contacts trying to position and impose oneself upon the other and then, the resistance to or the acceptance of the falls. All these persistent dangers are perceived with all the senses by both players: noise of feet movements, breathing rhythms, costumes stretching, changing grips, directions and speeds etc. Such challenge may become very intense in that each player is trying to maintain proper balance while making use of the many natural laws to quickly overcome the other. For a short timelapse, the contestants are in harmony, they push and pull freely, they are working for the control of the critical space from which to launch their special technique and there seems to be no other time measurement nor obstacle capable of stopping the energy towards their goal except the abrupt reality made by the call of the IPPON (point) pronounced by the judge.

Zuihitsu-Random notes on judo by Ronald Dsormeaux


The Kodokan dictionary describes such encounter as Shiai or a judo match / bout which is governed by specific rules for the purpose of awarding various points that will determine a victorious player.i Simple and soft forms of training for competition Other aspects of the study of judo will bring the students into a more relaxed and serene atmosphere. This involves the gradual study of the Gokyo techniques, the execution of formal Kata, the acquisition of auxiliary training skills and the learning of the lexicon associated with each application. With progress, the students are exposed to various static repetitions (Uchi Komi), Tai- Sabaki or displacement skills, Nage- Komi (throws on the move). Tactics and strategies are introduced next in the training activity called Yakusoku geiko. Yakusoku geiko or renshu is defined by the Kodokan Judo Institute as a controlled or agreed upon practice where techniques are repetitively applied or received by either partner, as agreed upon by both before the training practice begins. This activity has been introduced in various training programs in the early 1960 as a mean to make a closer study of the techniques in given situations and lead the students toward a greater use of mental agility in their understanding of all the underlying principles and technical essences. In this form of light training, students can go on the offensive or practice defensive skills at random. In this kind of training exercise, the students get a chance to better understand the theories and are able to practice several combinations of attacks, counters and escapes associated with a variety of technical applications being applied without the fear of being blocked by a noncooperative partner. The students thus evolve in a controlled environment where they can be exposed to difficult situations, forced to analyze quickly the surrounding conditions, hastily form a plan of attack, give an appropriate response and or execute a personal solution with savvy. As they proceed with their experimentations, they can mutually change the rules of engagement to make the exercise more demanding and strenuous. All along, they are exploiting their potential energies in preparation for the upcoming advanced forms of combat: the Randori and Shiai. The wise teacher It is important for judo teacher to understand the goals and desires of his study groups before launching them into the advanced combat situations. His role is to partake and transmit the knowledge and the composite savoir- faire associated with the whole judo concepts. He or she must ensure that the students are placed in the best learning situations to observe, analyze, challenge, execute and learn to transform all the acquired data and concepts to their needs. In their three to four hours training sessions per week, most students will demonstrate their desire to learn, to practice and gain new expertise and feel useful in the development of others. Many students are in the class to keep fit or because they like the actions and the challenges and are not necessarily there to win medals and trophies. Most students are interested in fun play, challenging opportunities and pushing their capacities to the next level.

Zuihitsu-Random notes on judo by Ronald Dsormeaux


They have no desire to confront others for the sake of showing superiority. For most of them, the learning of basic combative skills and the acquisition of the understanding of what judo competition levels are, including a limited exposure to them, may suffice to their needs. A general soft and safe training formula may well contain some of the following facets: 1. Get familiar with and try to enter the combative zone with a certain degree of confidence and freedom of action. 2. Learn to seize the opportunities being offered by a partner and try to anticipate the right moment for action. 3. Understand balance/equilibrium and displacement and make greater use of total body energy. 4. Learn to confuse and surprise the other with speed and a variety of techniques. 5. Attack the weak points and seek vulnerable areas for added opportunities. 6. Train all the senses to capture and exploit moments of anticipation. 7. Solve conflicting situations as fast as possible. 8. Master ones physical and mental capabilities before considering overtaking an opponent. 9. Never be discouraged when facing difficulties and keep trying. 10. Seek technical quality and appreciate others contributions towards excellence. It is Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo who wroteii: Students should practice judo not for the purpose of competition but rather to become able to use it to attain a greater purpose in life. The chosen few Within a general class, the teacher may discover a minority of students (maybe 10%) who align themselves towards all levels of the combative sport and seek the challenges of competition to gain prestige and rewards. They are prepared to give more than six to eight hours of additional training time per week if necessary. Those can be guided locally and individually and participate into more strenuous and sustained training activities involving special Randori and Shiai. The better gifted students can also be referred to the regional, provincial and national judo training centers for more sustained coaching. The Randori is of course the preferred training mechanism to reach excellence in future competitions. It should not be done exclusively and to the detriment of other training mechanisms and must certainly be accompanied with other forms of training activities which permit further exploration, adjustment and correction of errors needed to improve the technical skills necessary to reach any podium. Let us be reminded of the wise remarks by Jigoro Kano on the subject. During Randori, stay relaxed and move freely. People have forgotten that Randori means fighting in earnest. They are too defensive and do not stand straight. You should train as much as possible by maintaining a natural stance without tensing your body, particularly your arms and legs.iii

Zuihitsu-Random notes on judo by Ronald Dsormeaux


Randori, the instrument of choice We often hear the term Butsukari. This expression is taken from the Japanese verb Butsukaru: to crash or collide with, to run into, meet with or fall onto someone or something. It is an expression used frequently by Mikinosuke Kawaishi Sensei 7th Dan in his personal correspondence and bulletins during the period 1960-65. The late judo master encouraged all his senior members to perform Butsukari as often as possible during our daily practices. You better try Butsukari as many times as possible and every day. This is the only way to improve your competition techniques. Of course you must apply combination tricks with your special Wazaiv Other judo academies used the term Randori to describe the guerilla-type of training that this exercise contain. The Kodokan Judo institute of Tokyo makes reference to the conduct of Randori as a free practice or free sparring in which both participants practice attacking and defending using freely applied throwing and pinning techniques. Michel Novovitch 8 th Dan a senior European judo teacher has described the Randor i in his book Judo Zero Gravityv as the moment of integral effort. Whereby judoka attempt to throw the partner or to control him by making use of their best technique, physical strength, speed and by using their ability to take advantage of all opportunities. He often remarked that one can reap all the benefits of judo practices without contemplating to compete in real Shiai since it is in the practice of Randori that a judoka can really measure his true potentials. He, like so many others teachers, stressed the importance of first attaining mastery over oneself, and then to make intelligent use of your abilities and skills to better cope with any incoming opponent. These experts have favored the practice of Randori as a training activity full of learning situations, where one can experiment with different sensations and various intensity levels. It is a form of combat where one can play the various guerilla-type styles tactics of surprise and ruse with the understanding that at the end of the training period, there is no winner being declared. Only self-improvements are derived from it. It is truly a match of personal skills performed in good spirit and with intensity while having due care and respect for the other partner. For all of them, Randori contains the full range of cognitive, emotional and physical perspectives associated with dealing with various unknown factors. By being able to feel, to see, to understand, to comprehend, to judge and act according to ever-developing situations is a special moment to seek in order to develop greater strength of character, sagacity, sang-froid, courage, satisfaction and pride in having performed to the best of ones abilities.

Zuihitsu-Random notes on judo by Ronald Dsormeaux


Conclusion To be able to overcome the strengths of others during a fleeting moment is satisfying, but knowing and being able to muster his energies and strengths during future encounters is displaying real judo savvy. We close this essay with the words of Jigoro Kano: Feeling proud of yourself after winning by inconveniencing your opponent does not fulfill the spirit of judo. In so far as possible, you should accommodate your opponent and compete is such a way as to allow him to use his Waza on you freely. If you do not win by using superior Waza to those of your opponent or by turning his Waza against him, this cannot be said to be a true victory. In practice, if you think only about winning from the start, you will never be able to do so. In order to develop the strength to win someday, you must be satisfied with practicing losing for a time. Even if you are at risk of losing, you must take the offensive try various Waza and train hard. vi I wish you a good training session. Ronald Dsormeaux Hart House, University of Toronto August 2011

References

AWAMURA T, DAIGO T, KODOKAN NEW JAPANESE-ENGLISH DICTIONARY OF JUDO , T OKYO,2000, PAGE 115
ii

Jigoro Kano, Mind over Muscle, compiled by Naoki Murata, Kodansha, Tokyo, 2005, page 132 Jigoro Kano, Mind over Muscle, compiled by Naoki Murata, Kodansha, Tokyo, 2005, page 138 iv Kawaishi M, Personal letters and Bulletins of Kawaishi Academy - Ronald Dsormeaux, April 1961-1965 v Novovitch Michel, Judo Zero Gravity, Publiday-Multidia, Casablanca, Maroc, 2003, page 104 vi Jigoro Kano, Mind over Muscle, compiled by Naoki Murata, Kodansha, Tokyo, 2005, page 133
iii

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