View Full Version : jiyu waza in iwama style dojos

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03-10-2008, 02:26 PM
Hi all,
I was wondering if and how other iwama style dojos out there facilitate regular jiyu waza practice as part of ciriculum and not just a 'special' thing to do every once and a while.
I recently had a 1st kyu exam and had a mandatory jiyu waza section at the end. While I was rather pleased with my performance, especially since I had 3 uke to contend with and was able to execute satisfactory blends etc., it nevertheless made me realize that jiyu waza is not something we normally do--at least in my dojo.
While I know that some of this has to do with the personal styles of the teachers (some choose to emphasize different aspects of practice, usually coinciding with their talents or abilities, or maybe theyre hurt and cant quite facilitate it the way it should be), it seems that at least some of it has to do with the legacy of the iwama ryu and the emphasis on kihon.
That being the case, how do other iwama-style dojos (and, for that matter any dojos in general) facilitate jiyu waza on a normal basis?
I asked a yundansha at my dojo, for example, why we cant have one of our classes during the week be strictly devoted to jiyu waza. He responded that what would be tough about it is that it would be hard to do it with varying ranks in the class; in other words, lower ranking folks who need to work on basic blends would be slowing down others who are working on things at a different level.
Do you guys find this to be true? How do you other dojos introduce and facilitate jiyu waza practice to new students?
Im curious to know of different approaches.
Thanks in advance.

03-10-2008, 02:45 PM
New students either sit and watch or just do one technique over and over again. Remember, they are new and don't have a good rolodex. Also, they will be speeding up thinking that it is required since so many people are attacking but not yet realizing the amount of damage that can be done by someone not being in control. I tend to flop for these people out of fear.

Jennifer Yabut
03-10-2008, 07:00 PM
In Aikikai (at least in the USAF; don't know about the others), the 1st kyu test and higher are all jiyu-waza. At my dojo, we have been doing jiyu-waza on a fairly regular basis (usually near the end of class), especially when there are a lot of blackbelts on the mat. We go easy on the beginners, and encourage them to practice just one or two basic techniques. Or we split the class in two: blackbelts at one end (or sometimes, 3rd kyu and higher), whitebelts at the other.

Dave...maybe you can suggest splitting the class in two to your sempai. It doesn't have to be for the whole class; maybe just the last ten minutes.

And congratulations on passing your 1st kyu test. :)

Josh Reyer
03-10-2008, 07:24 PM
At the Iwama-style dojo I attended, every few weeks (more often in the cold winter, less often in the hot summer), the instructor would split the class into two groups with a basically equal mix of high and low level people. We'd form a circle and take turns being the person in the middle. Everyone in the circle would attack the person in the middle in turn. Free attack, free response. For high level students we were encouraged to attack virtually two or three at a time, so they could learn positioning and awareness. For low level students it was more of a one-at-a-time kind of thing. Because it was at the end of class, low level folks naturally tended to respond with whatever we were working on that day, as their bodies still retained the muscle-memory.

At this same dojo we would also occasionally partner up one-on-one for jiyu-waza.

03-10-2008, 08:26 PM
Jiyu waza is easy to teach for beginners, it's all about how you break it down and build as they grow. At our dojo we require their first rank test (7th kyu) to have jiyu waza with 2-3 attackers doing a single attack and the students perform any of their 5 arts they are taught for their test from the same attack. From there each rank sources the jiyu waza based of their techniques that are required for their test, just in a multiple attack scenario. Once they reach 2nd kyu then they get to 2 attackers with any attack, 1st kyu 3 attackers, shodan 4 attackers, nidan 5 attackers, sandan 6 attackers. They build repertoire through the design of the program. It's important for instructors to look at their curriculum and make sure it makes sense in the end, it needs cohesion and able to balance all the thing we need to teach them.

To me randori is the limelight of Aikido, no other martial arts does so many people in one attack!! It needs to be emphasized. Sure other arts do one on one sparring, but the strategy changes when there's several people. And really once you hit 4-5 attackers it's really all the same once you increase the numbers....there's only so much space to occupy to attack, any more attackers will align themselves in a row for attacks, you just gotta keep going. 6 or 20, makes no difference anymore. But if you got 20 ppl, I'd get the hell out of there! lol.

There's no reason to wait, it's just how smart your teacher is to design a program to prepare you. Karate/TKD/Kickboxing start sparring from the beginning, Judo/BJJ allow any rank to do their one on one randori, we should follow suit. Otherwise it can become a detriment to their training and almost a fear building exercise instead of defusing the fear of it and allowing them to build confidence from the beginning.


03-11-2008, 05:52 AM
Where I train we differentiate between jiyu waza and randori, where jiyu waza is one on one and randori is with more than one uke. There is also a difference in what techniques that are "allowed" between the two versions. In jiyu waza you are more or less restricted to the basic nage and kansetsu waza (no kokyo-nage etc) but in randori every part of the curriculum is ok.

We try to do jiyuwaza fairly often, but not dedicate whole classes to it. Often it just something you finish up with. Also we do variations of jiyuwaza where we give nage and/or uke special directions, ex nage should dominate distance and initiate with shomen uchi or that uke shold use nages initiation of shomen uchi to blend in to morote dori, ushiro ryote dori etc. Sometimes itīs just that nage shows the attackform or that uke has only on attack to work with, etc.. I think itīs important to do jiyuwaza often and also to hammer in the idea that jiyu waza is just training and that it don't have to be executed at faster pace than regular training. To often people just stress out ....

Oh, and when we do jiyu waza itīs for all ranks. I dont se any reason why beginners shouldnīt try it.

Karen Wolek
03-11-2008, 06:09 AM
My teacher will have us do freestyle/jiyuwaza/randori at least once or twice a week during a regular class, for a few minutes. He probably won't do it if there are a ton of brand-new students in class.

But we also have a dedicated advanced class every week for 2nd kyu and up, which is almost always a freestyle class. Since freestyle is on the 2nd kyu exam, he usually lets people start taking that class when they are getting ready for that test.

And if we have a class that ends up being all or mostly advanced students (with no newbies), he'll do a freestyle class sometimes.

I used to hate freestyle, but now I love it! The advanced class is my favorite class of the week!

03-11-2008, 06:15 AM
I think that out of the time you spend on taijutsu the percentage between kihon( go tai), flowing waza (ju tai, ryu tai or just ki no nagare depending on terminology) and jiyuwaza randori should be something like 60/30/10. Or maybe 80/15/5.

Jennifer Yabut
03-11-2008, 09:53 AM
I used to hate freestyle, but now I love it! The advanced class is my favorite class of the week!

Yup...the advanced classes are my favorite too. Randori becomes a LOT of fun when you have more than 2-3 techniques under your belt... :D

jennifer paige smith
03-12-2008, 09:56 AM
we practice jiyu waza very early in training. it is available right away, new students usually only have one or two techniques than can perform. but heck, jiyu waza is another technique in a certain respect and if we don't get hung up in some idea that we are suddenly 'master killers' cuz we've been exposed to it and then suddnly we speed up and try to burn down the house, well....it takes time to learn and we might as well get started. Just like Ikkyo.
I was taught this way, for the most part. it worked wondefully for me so it is a tradition I carry on.


03-12-2008, 02:59 PM
thanks guys....your comments are helpful....

Maybe I can focus my inquiry a little too: have any of you out there ever experimented with whole classes devoted to jiyu waza? If so, what kind of format is followed?

Also, have any of you experimented with different ways to simulate attacks in the jiyu waza/randori setting? I ask because I trained in TKD when I was a teenager, and sparring was intregal to my development as a martial artist. Since I cant quite do those fancy jumping spin kicks any more (haha), I can see that if I took anything away from those years of TKD, it was the feeling of being comfortable and centered in the midst of being attacked (albeit in a controlled environment), something only sparring could give me.
That said, one thing I notice with students both new and intermediate (and sometimes seasoned!) in jiyu waza, is preciscly that if they haven't practiced anything before they kinda look like deer caught in the headlights, and that it takes a long time (perhaps longer than it should) to develop the "centering" that we in Aikido like to think we are developing.
This seems an important phenomena to me given the common criticism of Aikido that it doesn't prepare people for real situations. Do any dojos out there experiment with, say, pads and mouthpieces?
I want to be clear, it wouldnt be to practice "fighting", but rather to practice what it feels like to be attacked with sincere punches that dont stop at the chest and wait there patiently while you figure something out, or, to let people know and understand that getting hit is not the end of the world and that they can continue moving and blending.
I regret putting "iwama-style" in the subject line, cuz I'd like to hear from other styles as well.
thanks again!

03-12-2008, 06:46 PM
I think due to the amount of beginners we never do it in our dojo. A couple of times Sensei during a simple tsuki tenkan warming up exercise sped it up so that the attacks where carried out continuosly. I guess that can start teaching you to develope a randori mind as in keeping in mind the presence of the others and how to move.

I tried jiyuwaza only a couple of times when there was only me and Senpai (once) and me Senpai and another guy at my level (the second time).
Out of the two times all I can remember pulling out was a Sankyo and a Kaiten Nage...freestyle really messes me up. In the moment I get attacked I can't think of anything to do and nothing comes out naturally hee hee. Ok, I lied, 1 thing comes out naturally...tension and restistance, alot of it.
I guess jiyu waza is too advanced for me.

03-16-2008, 01:05 PM
I agree that cross training from another martial art helps during randori, jiu waza and even during regular class. If you have done sparring in any form, you have already developed a sense of distance. Maai :D What I often see in our dojo is people are way too close and react to the attack way too late. My Sensei loves to talk about martial logic but like i said, it is a long process to learn maai in an Aikido dojo, simply because it takes so long to learn to properly execute a technique and see that technique as a threat. As opposed to learning to kick and punch - you see the threat there right away and develop maai way quicker.. before or after you get a black eye :freaky:

Back to jiu waza, we too do not practice that enough. And when we do, I get stuck doing 4-5 of the same techniques, I just can't think fast enough I guess