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Exegesis of Nick's randori pointers


Some time back, Nick posted a nice collection of randori pointers, and I responded that I thought they were great but that each one could be a chapter of a book, or that  he should at least re-post with some parenthetical explanations or expansions.
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A couple of days ago Nick's list resurfaced on FB and I re-posted it and someone asked me for some expansion and explanation.
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So, since nobody ever listens to my genius ideas,  here's Nick's awesome pointers with my own parenthetical explanations. I figure to talk about some of these at greater length in upcoming posts...
1. Don't take a step you don't have to take [...because every step you take exposes you to otoshi and guruma, which we're all expert at exploiting.]
2. Don't put pressure in your hands unintentionally [...because convulsive, reflexive grips stop the motion of your center and limit your options.]
3. Once you do have to step, try to keep at least one foot pointed at your target at all times [...because your legs contain the strongest muscles in your body, and they only work strongly in that one plane.]
4. Invest in loss...repeat the pattern that is causing you a problem so many times that your subconscious is stimulated to respond and solve it for you ....it should surprise you [...because, if you have the power to overcome your problems with the first solution you think up, they're not really problems.  You want to train your subconscious to come up with better solutions to more outrageous problems than your conscious mind ever could.]
5. Invest in lightness...in whatever technique you are doing try to reduce how much pressure you use by half, then again by half, again and again all the way down to minimal pressure....a good bench mark to look for is getting down to one finger [...again, because if you've got the power to blow, then it's not a real problem.  You want to find the sweet spots and leverage magnifiers so that you can solve the largest conceivable problems with the least conceivable expenditure of your own power.]
6. Use mirroring in weight shift, posture, and timing [...because if you connect to uke and mirror his motions, posture, and timing, you can amplify them to the point that they are beyond uke's ability to control.]
7. Deflect and redirect on contact. [...because this gives your opponent the longest possible time to commit to his chosen course of action.  If you try to reach out to deflect him, then he may be under-committed and counter your parry.]
8. Use proactive tactics of preloading and already being a flywheel in motion on contact [...because if you wait for uke to connect to you and stabilize, then it will be very hard to get yourself back into motion.  But if you are already in motion (or pre-loaded for motion) and uke connects to you, you draw him into unbalance automatically.]
9. Beware of over commitment and over determination to a given outcome [...again, because if you immediately know the answer to a problem then it is not a real problem.  If you commit yourself to the first answer you come up with, you are asking for a heap of trouble.]
10. Beware of defensive mind and continual evasion....eventually you will run out of options and space [...because sometimes you have to go and do and be proactive with your martial skills, rather than forever fading back and defending.] 
Randori, in each and every case, turns out to be what we decide to make it be ...it is a do it yerself nonverbal discussion that can range from a playful graceful nurturing dance to a soul draining fight for dominance or survival...so much of what it turns into revolves around what we think we are supposed to do and with whom....if we think we are supposed to control the other guy and manipulate him as we will, power and speed ramp up and triggers get pulled and there results an inevitable fight....if we decide the real game is not controlling them, but rather to manipulate ourself, our own body and reactions and to primarily be sensitive to them then it often goes the sweet way... When you put your hands on someone in randori it's not like a musician grasping an instrument to play it , because here the instrument is yourself, your own body, your own reactions and emotions , it's like the musician tuning himself in to the audience he is playing to and interacting with it
Thanks, Nick, for those randori hints!  I suspect that Nick deliberately left them somewhat vague so that we would have to explore them to find our own meanings.  As such, the above are not THE only answers to the question, "What the hell is Nick talking about?"  But they represent some of what Nick's pointers mean to me.


[photo courtesy of Matt Bull]

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Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com