Monday, July 12, 2010

Top 2 ways to suck at randori

There are several great ways to absolutely suck at randori, and each one will to some extent slow your progress in the art.  But here are the two absolute best ways to make sure that you will take the longest time possible to become anywhere near proficient.
  1. Try to win
  2. Try to not lose
Assuming you don't actually want to suck at randori, the first of these is fairly easy to avoid.  You're not doing shiai (a death match) against an opponent in order to obtain a prize.  You are working with a partner toward the goal of both of you getting better.  No big problem there.
But avoiding the second of these can be tricky.  In randori, you absolutely do not want to be defensive. You need to attack, even if it means you take lots of falls. You do need to retain enough of your senses that you don't endanger your partner needlessly - don't do stupid stuff - but do try to get your techniques working on him.
How not to suck at randori:
One of the best ways to avoid the two traps above is for both partners in the randori to declare to themselves, "I will be the one to take the next fall."  Then you set out to find out what kind of fall it will be.  Of course, if your partner presents you with such an amazingly blatant opportunity that you just can't stand it, then you have to take the throw - that's part of that mutual benefit thing.  But then he gets up and you say to yourself again, "I will take the next fall."
So the goal in randori isn't to get the other guy down no matter what.  Nor is it to keep yourself from having to take falls.  The goal is to get the opportunity to take as much good, varied ukemi practice as possible.
Wow!  I set out to tell you the two best ways to suck at randori and I ended up telling you how to be the best you can be at randori.

[Photo courtesy of Andrea Vascellari]
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