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Kano on the deficiencies of Ju

Whoa! This is really intersting! In 2010, Syd Hoare published online some translations of some of Jigoro Kano's writings.  Included were the following passages involving Kano grousing about the deficiencies within the principle of Ju (as understood as winning by yielding)...



Most jujitsu was based on and carried out under the Ju principle in order to defeat the opponent. It was also applicable to all the day to day affairs of man. However Kano eventually came up against the fact that there were many occasions in both attack and defence which could only be dealt with by theories outside the yielding principle Kano giving examples of situations which could not be explained by the Ju/Yielding principle divided them into physical and mental ones.


Physical situations.


For example when you are strongly grabbed from behind, under the JU principle there is no escape – there is no way to adapt to the opponent's power. There are a number of ways of responding to a strong hug from behind but there is no adaptation to the opponent's power. Similarly if an opponent grabs your throat from the front there are answers to it but they do not involve adapting to the opponent's power.



Furthermore if judo technique is always limited to complying with or adapting to the opponent's force there is nothing that judo can do if the opponent stands still. Even if you merely think about catching the opponents hand you cannot even lower your hand. All one can say is that it should be done with a minimum of force.
Mental situations.
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When the opponent attacks you vigorously you have no time to think out new means to deal with it. You have no choice but to choose to reply to it with your old tricks which naturally float into your mind based on previous experience. If the opponent does not attack but only defends, your mental workings and new thoughts will not appear.


Furthermore when one has decided to try a technique on the opponent you must not hesitate or doubt whether you should do this or that but be resolute in your decision to try a technique. At the same time think about all possibilities and try moving around, doing techniques lightly and even though there may not be better methods one must not be idle in thinking about them and producing them. From all these illustrations, all methods of attack and defence are very difficult to explain with the simple JU principle. It is evident that whether considering the mental or physical aspects, that a new basic principle is necessary to cover the huge variety of judo technique.


rom about the period 1897 – 1907 Kano relied less and less on the JU principle to explain his judo. For example in 1900 he wrote in the Kokushi magazine, 'The number one requirement for nagewaza is the mobilization of
minimum force in order to throw the opponent how and where one wishes. In his explanations of the practical application of judo principles he wrote, 'People should put to work their God-given spiritual force to demonstrate as widely as possible meritorious deeds for the world and mankind.


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____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com

Hooks instead of grips in judo

So, I mentioned in a previous article that in my humble opinion, the gripping phase of a judo throw comes pretty late in the action - like after kuzushi and tsukuri almost concurrently with kake.
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Here's another little secret - On many koshinage, I dont even do grips, at least not with my hands.  I tend to use my elbows like meathooks, putting them in as I'm turning in for a throw (tsukuri).  I look at it like this...
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Have you ever seen a small child carrying a heavy plastic grocery bag?  They don't have the grip strength to hold it by their side with a straight arm, so they bend their elbow and hook the bags over the crook of their elbows.  By moving the load right up to the fulcrum of the elbow, they get much better leverage on much stronger muscles (biceps beats finger flexors every time).  Turns out the same trick works very nicely for an adult trying to grapple or pick up or throw another comparable-sized person.
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There are just a handful of configurations that you need to be able to use in order to be able to do all of the koshiwaza and some of the ashiwaza...
  • elbow hook around uke's waist - any koshinage
  • elbow hook under uke's rear arm - sodeTKgoshi
  • elbow hook around uke's neck - kubinage
  • elbow hook under uke's lead arm - seoinage
  • elbow/armpit hook over uke's lead arm - makikomi
I recommend trying using hooks instead of grips, and putting them in relatively late - as in during tsukuri.  I have gotten a lot of mileage out of this.
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____________________
Patrick Parker

Our current schedule

As of February 2012, our regular class schedule looks like this...
Monday
- 5:30 - Stick & sword
- 6:30 - Judo
Tuesday
- 5:30 - Kid's Judo
- 6:30 - Aikido
Thursday
- 5:30 - Kid's Judo
- 6:30 - Judo
Friday
- 5:30 - Stick & sword
- 6:30 - Aikido
Saturday
- private lessons by previous arrangement

The heart of the jo

There is an old aphorism... "The heart of the jo is an arrow."
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I enjoy aphorisms like this because they are frequently multi-faceted.  One can often draw multiple lessons from a statement like this.
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In a purely superficial sense, one could take this to mean that both are long, cylindrical wooden objects, with the jo a bit larger, such that the arrow could fit within the jo, or that one could perhaps carve an arrow out of a jo.
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More usefully and instructively, I've always taken this to mean that it is just the very tip that is the sweet spot for striking - that the rest of the jo is a delivery vehicle for the tip - just like in an arrow, the shaft and fletching is the delivery vehicle for the arrowhead.  One of my instructors was fond of calling the jo a "one-inch long weapon with a fifty-inch long handle."
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You can also glean from this aphorism that, just like an arrow, the jo is not useful unless it is pointed at the opponent.
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This past weekend I learned another interpretation of this aphorism.  An arrow is not immediately useful unless it is fitted to a bow and drawn - that is, placed under tension.  In the same way, the SMR jo is frequently compressed between the practitioner's hands so that to thrust or strike with it, just like with an arrow, you release it.
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The jo is not just being held in position by the hands, it is being actively propelled by one hand and restrained by the other, sort of like pressing both the brake and the accelerator in your car at the same time.
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Whenever both ends of the jo are palmed, the hands are squeezing toegther, compressing the jo, almost as if the jo is straining to leap forward into the heart of the enemy and the only things holding it back are the jodoka's front hand and his will.

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____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com

Randori in jodo

There is randori in jodo.  Perhaps not like the randori that you are used to in aikido or judo.  Probably unlike any randori that you're familiar with, but it is a very interesting form of contest.
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It is a contest of wills, and it takes place at the end of every kata.  It is similar to the way that judo's katamenokata is an interesting mix of kata and randori - in katamenokata, tori applies a technique and uke makes three escape or counter attempts, then submits.
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At the end of each jodo kata, the two participants face one another and the uke makes a signal that he is willing to stop fighting, but it is a small gesture - he is not submitting, he is conceding a minor point.  Tori then makes a gesture, withdrawing the jo, testing the uke's sincerity.  Then he makes another gesture towards peace, taking the jo offline, testing uke still.  it is not until uke has committed to his second step backward that he has enough momentum towards a condition of peace, that tori begins withdrawing.
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We often think of this osami as just a ceremonial ending to the kata, but you can also look at it as randori.  It has the properties of randori...
  • It is an engagement match with another participant
  • Each participant is testing the other.  Tori is watching for any provocation from uke that would continue the fight.  Uke is watching for any flaw or weakness (suki) in tori's posture or position or kamae - anything that would allow uke to return to aggression with impunity.  Uke is also watchig tori for any overt aggressive provocation - too much of which would be an indication of his insincerity.
  • Either participant might "win" or "lose." The outcome is uncertain because it is not ever known which of the two will break first.
All of this takes the general form of a reverse arms race.  Tension and suspicion is gradually allowed to subside, but there is always the possibility that the other participant is not what he seems, so both participants must keep kamae and exhibit zanshin.
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This is a randori that takes place within the realm of the minds or the wills of the participants.
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____________________
Patrick Parker

Can't see the randori in junokata?

In my last post I asserted that junokata is not an abstract, aesthetic, demonstration thing intended for aging judo masters.  Rather, it was deliberately designed by Kano as practical randori education for relative beginners.  At least, that's what Kano says/implies in his memoirs.
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Of course, your next question to me should be, "Well, what are all those amazing randori lessons hidden in Junokata?" Short answer -  I don't know for sure.  I can't lie to you and claim to have gleaned all the cool ninja secrets from this exercise.  Shoot, even Keiko Fukuda says in her book that the essence of this kata eluded her for most of her life, and she been practicing judo for about 55 years longer than me!
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This brings to my mind the question... If Junokata was designed as a practical randori education, why is it so darn hard to glean any practical randori lessons from it?  Seems to me it could be any (or several) of the following...
  • Junokata was not really designed as a practical randori thing - Parker is smoking the hoohoo weed again.  I mean, two or three generations of Olympic judoka can't be wrong, can they?
  • Junokata has not been passed down to successive generations of judoka faithfully and intact, as Kano intended.  The lessons have been obscured and the kata has become just an aesthetic demonstration thing that is only remotely and abstractly related to real judo.
  • Our understanding of the nature of randori has become so fundamentally skewed that we cannot see any relationship between Junokata and what we think randori is about. (AHA!)
I think the latter to be the most likely explanation.  If Kano intended Junokata to really be a practical randori education (which he says he did), and if we cannot see any randori relevance in the kata, then it seems that we are having a crisis of misunderstanding related to our idea of what randori is about.
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We might benefit from taking a good, thorough look at junokata and trying to figure out how it might possibly be the same thing as randori.
  • There is no falling in junokata, (interestingly, there is no falling in gonokata either) so perhaps randori is not really about forcing the other guy to fall down.
  • Randori is good, vigorous exercise, so perhaps Junokata is not about some flacid, insipid misunderstanding of "ju."
  • Junokata is done precisely and slowly, so perhaps randori should not be about applying explosive strength or moving faster than the other guy.
  • The only way to effectively "win" at randori without explosive strength and speed advantage is to apply effective kuzushi with proper timing, so perhaps we should be especially looking for the kuzushi and timing lessons in JNK.
 What other parallels do you see between JNK and what randori should really be?
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____________________
Patrick Parker

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.
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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.
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Guess what this new randori training method was called...
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Ju-no-kata
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com

4 osotogari and 3 koshinage

So, per my post from yesterday, I suggested that you might get more mileage out of your randori experiences if you will learn a variation of your tokuiwaza that you can execute on uke when he is moving forward, backward, left, or right.  Today I have a couple of examples.
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Coming up through the ranks I often had a lot of trouble getting into osotogari.  Turns out, I only knew and practiced two directions of that thing.  I could throw osotogari when uke moved his right leg forward, or when he moved his right leg sideways or back away from me (sometimes), but if they fought left-side hard forward and stiffarmed and shuffled, I had a hard time getting osotogari in there.
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I could have mirrored those two right-sided osotogaris that I knew, stepping in and doing the reap with my left leg, but perfecting major throws on your off-side is a sketchy proposition.
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It wasnt until much later - maybe 10 years ago - that I discovered two more right-sided osotogaris that worked nicely when uke was moving his left leg.  I started spending more time on those two variations and soon I started getting osotogari in randori almost at will.  Makes sense, as now I could approach osotogari if uke was moving his left or right leg, and whether he was advancing or retreating.
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The other example is koshinage - any of the multitude of hip throws in judo.  Coming up through the ranks, I spent almost all of my time going for hip throws when uke was standing still or retreating with his right leg.  That step-through-to-the-rear hipthrow is still my favorite, and the easiest one for me to teach beginners.  But as you can imagine, if that's the only direction I ever tried it, I wasn't going to have much success.
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Sometime later I learned that there was a nice hipthrow opportunity when uke advances with his right leg.  This made two variations, but I was still having about as much trouble in randori with that thing.  Again, it makes sense, because it doesnt take my partners too long to figure out they only had to worry about hip throws if they moved their right leg.
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About the same time as I discovered the other two osotogari, I learned a new variation for hipthrows that worked nicely if uke was left-forward - and it can sort of be massaged to hit a hip throw when uke is retreating to his left (but that is still a difficult direction).
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That makes three variants of koshinage, and all of a sudden I had many, many more chances to try that thing in randori.  I've actually started throwing a few hip throws in randori in the past few years!  It's still a long way from my tokuiwaza, but I think that might be because I have mostly neglected that fourth direction.
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Anyway, there you have 2 examples of working your techniques in 4 directions and getting better at randori.


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____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com

Variations of tokuiwaza

Ok, so now that we've gotten all this "randori is an experiment - not a contest" and "randori is not about winning" business out of the way, how about some real hints on how to really trash some bozos...

This particular hint applies more to judo randori, but i guess you can stretch it a bit and get some aikdio randori benefit out of it.

You need to be able to throw your tokuiwaza (your 1-2 best throws) whether uke is advancing or retreating with their left or right legs.  So basically, you need four variations of a couple of throws.  By the time you start to get significant skill at four variations of two different throws, you should start to have more "success" in randori and be able to start enjoying it more.

I suspect that a lot of folks that get frustrated with randori only have 1-2 variations for their tokuiwaza, leaving significant holes in their game.  If you think that you are doing pretty good at "kata" versions of throws with compliant partners but you often can't make them go in  randori, then you ought to work on figuring out what situations you are having trouble with those particular throws?  That will give you some idea of where you need to concentrate your research in order to cover the gaps in your game.
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____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com

Randori is not about winning



It is not the purpose of randori to see if you can defeat the other guy a few times.  Randori is absolutely not about winning.
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The purpose of randori is for both partners to gain experience in giving and taking various techniques outside of the constraints of kata.  Approaching randori as an experiment, like in the previous post, your intent should simply be to run the experiment many times.
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This does not mean that you should not attempt to throw.  You have to approach the randori honestly, and that (usually) means if you see what you think is an opportunity for a technique then you honestly try to apply it. 
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It also does not mean that you should necessarily go into the randori with the intent of taking a dive for the other guy over and over again.  That is dishonest too.  If the other guy attempts a technique that is insufficient, you don't have to take a fall for him, but if they try a technique that you judge to be "close enough," then by all means,  be a good uke (which means 'receiver').
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One of my instructors used to say, "Randori is not a matter of winning and losing.  In randori there are those who win, and there are those who learn."  Often, they are not the same person.  Sometimes it is your turn to be the "winner" and sometimes it is your time to be the "learner."
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In the immortal words of Sensei Kipling, "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same... 

[photo courtesy of Singapore 2010 Youth Games]

____________________ 
Patrick Parker 
www.mokurendojo.com

Randori as an experiment

In the previous post, I compared randori to a physics experiment.

In a science lab, experiments are often performed over and over and over again, carefully controlling the experimental variables and changing one variable at a time to see how the varaibles affect the system.

Randori can be very profitable when approached in a similar vein.

Often it is not the end result (someone falls down or gets in an armlock) that is the most interesting thing in an engagement.  Often the really interesting part comes 2-3 steps before the fall or the terminal lock.  In such instances, it can be very educational to set up a given condition in randori and then run it over and over again so that you and your partner can experience how that certain situation unfolds.

One example might be repeating release #1 into oshitaoshi (katatetori ikkyo) over and over again seeing how uke falls each time.  Pretty soon, uke (without trying too hard) will start to walk out of your technique, either forcing you to modify your technique or perhaps reversing the technique on you.

Or, you might start in kesagatame and try repeatedly to transition into tateshihogatame with a cross-collar choke.  Even if you try to be really precise every time, pretty soon you'll start to see variation slip in, and both partners will be getting a ton ov experience inside and around and related to those particular positions and transitions and techniques.

So, try approaching your randori as a scientific experiment, controlling certain variables and letting others change and see the results.
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____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com

What is randori

Randori plays such a central role in judo and in aikido, that I thought I'd spend some time this month writing about this practice, how to "do randori" better, and how to get more out of it.

First, what is randori?

The Japanese word, randori, means something to the effect of "laying hold of chaos" or "taking freedom."
There are basically two classical modes of practice for Japanese jujitsu - kata and randori.  Kata is an exploration and demonstration of the form of a thing or idea - the basic shape that it can take.  As such, it can be compared to learning to write by tracing dotted outlines of capital letters, or learning to color within the lines of a coloring book.  But before you get to thinking that kata is just preschool stuff, it can also be likened to very advanced forms of learning - like demonstrations in a physics or chemistry laboratory.  Such demonstrations always happen the same way, go through the same processes, and yield the same results, but it is still very educational to do these demonstrations.

Randori, on the other hand, is any practice that deviates from the structure of kata.  Continuing with the previous analogies, you might liken randori to writing cursive or freehand drawing or a physics experiment where you don't know the end result beforehand.

Randori is often compared to kumite practice in karate (which I think is also frequently misunderstood).  These days, most folks seem to refer to kumite as sparring, but kumite is actually any engagement match - any practice form with a real partner/opponent instead of a makiwara or imaginary opponent.  In judo, all of our practice is with another person - we have no solo forms, so randori can be compared to the sparring idea within kumite.

Randori is a form of practice in which you don't necessisarily know beforehand who is going to be uke or tori, or which form of what technique will end the engagement.

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____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com

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