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Liberal and conservative rulesets for randori


Faik Bilalovik at the Martial Art Science blog has some interesting opinions about flow drills found in some martial arts. His post is worth reading and thinking about – he’s pretty much talking about exercises similar to the contact improv that we’ve been discussing between Mokuren Dojo and Formosa Neijia. Scott from Weakness With a Twist also has a cool inside perspective on contact improv in his comments here.
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I respect all these guys’ opinions and I see their points, but I can still see a potential value to “noodle circle” drills like contact improv. Basically, I think it is a good thing to do some randori under different rulesets – not just your normal mode of randori.
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These noodle circles are basically randori (or push-hands) under the most liberal possible set of conditions. Any motion is okay so long as uke and tori continue moving in contact with each other. There is no way to lose or win, except maybe to be unable to continue moving in contact with the other guy – and even then it is unclear who is the loser. Under this sort of ruleset, you’re playing with what’s possible – not necessarily what will probably bring about certain outcomes (like winning). What do you learn in this type of play? Who knows! It’s free play! You develop a base of experience of possibilities when you move freely in contact with the other guy.
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In more conservative rulesets there are more ways to win and lose (knock-out, points accumulation, submissions, time limits, penalties, etc…) Here you learn to use motion and skillfully conform to a set of conditions or ideals or principles in order to increase the likelihood of certain outcomes (like the other guy falling down or submitting instead of you).
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In the most conservative rulesets, you work only with what’s most probable. There is little room for playing with what might work because potentially costly loss is looming over you. Here you are learning worst case scenarios (i.e stab-twice knife randori).
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Most rulesets for randori are somewhere between these extremes, you have some leeway to experiment with both possibilities and probabilities. I say it’s a good thing to spend some of your practice time (not necessarily a lot of time) on both extremes and then work most of your time somewhere in the middle. You want to play with a variety of conditions of freedom (e.g. contact improv) and constraint (stab-twice randori).

3 comments:

  1. Yes. I couldn't agree more. The freedom allowed by the liberal ruleset allows you to try things out that might go beyond the bounds normally set by your style. You can explore ranges of human motion by exaggerating certain things.

    But I haven't been able to convince many people of this over at my blog. :)

    Good post.

    Formosa Neijia

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  2. Thanks, guys. I'm glad y'all got something out of my thoughts. Keep on coming back and keep on letting me know where I'm right and where I'm headed off the deep end.

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