Junokata and randori

When judo was young, back in the 1880's, the randori practice and concept was what made it unique and special.  The ancient jujitsu schools from which judo was derived were predominantly kata arts.  They had limited or no concept of randori.  Because of Kano implementing this randori idea in judo, judoka were able to gain a ton of practical experience and dominate the competitions between Kodokan and the older traditional kata-based jujitsu schools.
As the Kodokan grew, there came a point where there were so many students that it was difficult for all the students to get direct hands-on randori time with any of the great teachers.  So, Kano came up with a method for making sure that the students were getting a core of that randori knowledge transferred to them consistently.
Guess what this new randori training method was called...
What? You don't see the connection between JNK and randori?  Doubt my description of the history? Go check in Judo Memoirs of Jigoro Kano Chapter 58 and in the Introduction to Keiko Fukuda's Ju-No-Kata book.
Simply put, Junokata was not designed as an aesthetic performance thing.  It was designed as a practical tool for transmitting randori knowledge and skills in a consistent manner.
Junokata was created by perhaps the most gifted educator of his time to be a practical, pragmatic, educational thing for beginners - not as an aesthetic thing for aging experts.
Go back and check out some video of JNK with that in mind and see if you can see some of the randori in the kata.

Patrick Parker

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