Randori Training

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Randori is defined as “a term used in Japanese martial arts to describe free-style practice. The term literally means “chaos taking” or “grasping freedom,” implying a freedom from the structured practice of kata. Randori may be contrasted with kata, as two potentially complementary types of training.”

At Elements of Self Defense we differentiate Randori from free sparring by defining our goals with it.  We don’t just put a pair of students on the mat to beat each other up.  The tori sets the stage for his or her training goals.  These could be as nebulous as “attack me, I would like to practice my evasive movement,” or as specific as listing a set of kata that their uke will be limited to.  Randori is a free exchange of energy between tori and uke, and therefore is more unpredictable than kata practice.

The following are a few guidelines we use as Elements of Self Defense to train randori safely, but realistically.

Rules for the Tori –

  1. Safety First – Protect yourself at all times.  Unsafe training will not be tolerated.
  2. Be Prepared to Lose – Randori is a free exchange.  You won’t always win when your attacker(s) get to decide how and when to attack you.  You may get hit.  You may get submitted.  It happens.  Smile, thank your uke, rest and come back for more.
  3. Never Give Up – The surest way for your randori to go poorly is for you to give up when things start going bad.  You get hit?  Shake it off.  You end up in a position you don’t want to be in? Refocus and persevere.
  4. Defend Realistically – Defend with intent.  This isn’t tag.  Don’t just touch your attackers, make sure they know it would have been a good strike.  Make sure you are in control during takedowns.
  5. Trust Your Uke – They volunteered to attack you.  Trust that they know what they’re doing.  Don’t try to catch them in a throw, allow them to practice their ukemi skills.  If they aren’t responding the way you want, make sure you’re throwing your attacks with the proper intent.

Rules for the Uke –

  1. Safety First – Protect yourself at all times.  Unsafe training will not be tolerated.
  2. Be Prepared to Lose – Let’s be honest.  You’re the bad guy, if you don’t lose something went wrong.
  3. Play Your Part – As the Uke, your job is to feed opportunities to your training partner.  Engage them, but don’t try to outperform them.
  4. Attack Realistically – Attack your partner with real intent.  Don’t play tag or try to “psych out” your partner.
  5. Practice Your Ukemi -When you get hit, receive the strike as if it were the real thing.  When you get thrown, roll to safety.  If your joints are being locked, tap out before damage occurs.

Required SafetyEquipment –

  1. Padded Gloves – MMA style or better.
  2. Mouth Guard – Protect those pearly whites.
  3. Shin/Instep Protection – Optional, for kicking training.
  4. Chest Protector – Optional, but encouraged for striking practice.
  5. Cup – Optional, but foolish to be without.

Due to the limits of our space, only a single randori group will be allowed on the mats at a time.

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