Wednesday, December 1, 2021


Are you learning randori in the dojo?

Wondering how it can be used outside the dojo?

Randori means "chaos taking" in Japanese, and may refer to any martial instance that involves two or more parties vying for a specific goal. A common practice in Kodokan judo, the purpose of randori is to perpetuate chaos upon the opposition in order to perplex, deceive, overcome, or overwhelm, so that victory may be taken decisively. Randori itself may be trisected into three distinct genres relevant to a respective setting: free practice in the dojo, competition in martial sport, and combat in battle.

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Free Practice in the Dojo

Though every person in the dojo should participate in free practice with the intention of winning, they must do so under the pretext of study. Dojo randori is a time to explore safely in the company of trustworthy peers. Because taking a fall or a hit in the dojo is no ruinous defeat, one should make good use of the opportunity to test and chart unfamiliar territory. Clinging to a habitual technique merely narrows the perspective and encourages tunnel vision in the training process: Instead, one should experiment with alternative tactics, play outside the comfort zone, and remain unperturbed if a ploy is unsuccessful.

Competition in Sport

In the Japanese martial arts, sport competition is known as shiai. In shai, conditioning, coaching, and fluency of the game are the fastest routes to victory. Unlike in the dojo, the competitor's ring is not the place to explore. Instead, methods that are tried and true are the surest way to go. Though they certainly have backups, many champions triumph through one or two skillful techniques that can be executed swiftly and seemingly from nowhere, because in the heat of competition, experimentation becomes a risk — it could result in loss or even injury — so rules are imposed and upheld by a referee or some other authority to protect the competitors.

Combat in Battle

Combat, to be sure, is an entirely different animal, where the safety of the opposite party is sometimes entirely ignored, and it is truly a skirmish of severe consequences. Never forget that free practice and competition are not combat — they are combat simulations for study or sport, and this distinction cannot be dismissed. In battle there is no referee to enforce the rules, and there is no agreement to sustain mutual welfare. This point is obvious, but sometimes easy to forget, after an accumulation of trophies or consistent victories in the dojo.

Read more about randori!

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