Monday, October 27, 2014

The randori mindset

Judo has several different modes in which we practice, including...

  • Uchikomi - tori (thrower) and uke (faller) are defined and tori sets up an agreed-upon technique over and over again.  The goal is to get many repetitions, so there is no throwing - just repeated offbalance and turn-in.
  • Nagekomi - 2 partners take turns throwing.  I throw, you throw, and repeat.
  • Shiai - each participant tries to be tori and wants the other guy to be the uke.  This is a very natural mindset for a lot of people.  The tough part is being able to switch in an instant from "I want to be Tori" mode to "I've got to be Uke" mode when you've been had.
  • Randori - 2  partners each simultaneously wants to 1) practice his throws as tori, and 2) practice his falls as uke.

Randori seems to be the toughest mindset for a lot of people.  You have to maintain and optimize two mutually exclusive goals -

  • you want to get as many throws as you can (i.e. you want to be tori)
  • you want to take as many good falls as you can (i.e. you want to be uke)
If you go into randori looking for tori opportunities, you can have trouble suddenly making the switch when the other guy gets a surprising throw.  But if you go into randori looking exclusively for opportunities to take a fall, you end up taking a dive for the other guy when he didn't really throw you.  One condition is scary/dangerous and the other is dishonest.

Notice - nowhere in there did I say that anyone's goal is to stop the other guy from throwing you.  That is absolutely not your goal in randori.  If you are trying to stop the other guy from throwing then you are refusing to work in either role (tori or uke), so you are not doing randori.

How do you teach people to keep those two goals running all the time in randori without slipping into either role exclusively?

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Patrick Parker
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