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09-15-2003, 06:29 AM
We recently had a visitor shocked because we train shodan rondori at full speed, full power and full contact.

He was literally stunned.

I always give any student to option to bow off the mat if he does not want to get bloody. But how can you learn to defend or attack without this training? How do you learn to perserver through shock and pain unless you experience it?

I guess I am the one stunned. I thought every dojo did this regularly. Comments?

09-15-2003, 08:17 AM

What do you mean by randori? Different people use the term differently. For us, randori is multiple attackers, any attack, full speed.

Jiyu waza is a single attacker, any attack, full speed. Some styles refer to this exercise as randori as well.

We have a 7 kyu system (the first test is for 7th kyu -- I used to call it an 8 kyu system 'cause I figured that a person who hasn't tested yet is 8th kyu). We start everyone off on a exercise where we do randori in slow motion -- a slow walking speed -- with special attention paid to giving energy and attacks that really are slowed-down versions of what would happen at full speed. This way, nage gets to really work on body movement, and his ukes learn how to attack and take falls safely. Nages gets two to three times the number of ukes that he'd have to face when going full-speed.

We then also mix in full-speed randori for students who are 5th kyu (or so) and up. Full-speed against two people is required on the 1st kyu test, but our dojo actually does that for 2nd kyu. We do three attackers for 1st kyu. The shodan test, naturally, requires four attackers, and five for nidan, and I think six for sandan.

I've found full-speed training to be very beneficial, but the slow motion training has also helped quite a bit. I just tested for (and was awarded) 3rd kyu this past June. I feel pretty confident that I won't suck when I have to do two-attacker randori for my 2nd kyu test.


09-15-2003, 08:17 AM
I should add that we work on randori once a week or so.


09-15-2003, 08:46 AM
But how can you learn to defend or attack without this training? How do you learn to perserver through shock and pain unless you experience it?

I don't believe you can.



09-15-2003, 09:24 AM
Its the same for us, the muitiple attacker and single attacker any attack senerio. I dont get to do it that often due to my grade (lowly 3rd Kyu).

But I really love that aspect of it, I always seem to end up doing lots of Kokyunage and Tenchi nage variations...

Does anyone else find that they tend to stick to the "comfort" zone of techniques?

Yann Golanski
09-15-2003, 10:19 AM
Shodokan wise, we start doing randori training from kyuless grades. Again, what we call randori is not what you call it -- see many other posts on the subject. We generally start with avoidence only, then tegatana, then kakarigeiko (what most dojo will call randori), then hikitate (uke being awkward), then randori (uke being uncooperative) then shiai. Although the later is never done in club time and only at competions. We do as well some ni-nin randori and san-nin randori which is randori against two or three attackers.

Some Aikidoka tell us that if uke offers resistence it is not Aikido and are shocked that we call what we do Aikido.

Maybe your visitor was one of those.

When I first visited an Aikikai dojo I was shocked that they were not doing randori at each session.

As for full contact, what do you mean? Uke is allowed to kick the groin, gouge eyes and generally bash tori's brains out? Is it a fight without rules? This is what I understand as full contact. In that case, I'm not surprised he was shocked. However, I assume that it's not the case and that your full contact is more akin to our randori.

09-15-2003, 03:42 PM
Every time I've participated in a randori, the attacks were graded to the capabilities of the nage. I've never seen any dojo where a low ranking aikidoka was expected to go through a randori, as Daniel says, "full contact, full speed, full power."

We do Randori quite a bit in my dojo, and usually the randori in the shodan tests are impressive by my standards. Nevertheless, I think that we still stick by the idea that if you are attacking in a way that nage can't handle, then your uke needs work.

This, of course, is completely separate from the question of whether stress is a productive learning tool, how much of it is appropriate, whether that applies to randori in different ways than other aspects of Aikido training, and whether getting bloody is the most effective way of engendering stress. I'm afraid I have no opinion on any of those questions except that they are sort of interesting.

Lyle Bogin
09-15-2003, 03:47 PM
There have been several students training for shodan at Shin Budo Kai recently. When one asked Sensei Imaizumi "what techniques should I use during randori? what should I focus on?" He replied ":), just survive."

09-15-2003, 07:17 PM
I'm only a beginner but I have had a taste of multiple opponents in a multiple attack situation through my club.

Our instructor emphasizes "Get off line!" first and foremost, technique comes second.

I think it is important to be subjected to this type of training (slow or fast) so that you can be mentally prepared for it.

09-15-2003, 09:14 PM
As for full contact, what do you mean? Uke is allowed to kick the groin, gouge eyes and generally bash tori's brains out?
And the same for tori? Atemi is a big part of aikido, so all those atemi that tori does.. if they are full contact too, then man this must be tough training!

I think this sounds like a great kind of training. It does sound a little different from some other schools' randori though: although I think "full-speed" randori is very common, "full-contact" randori might be rare.

I agree that it would be impossible to practice persevering through shock and pain without this training.. however I think many things could still be practiced in "full speed, partial-contact" randori--in other words knowing you should/would have had your nose bashed in is still an educational experience to a great extent.

I would love to visit some day.

09-15-2003, 10:08 PM
I would like a bit of clarification also.

Every time I've heard similar statements in the past there are either defined rules or implied agreements between parties.

I have seen some pretty intense randori in the Aikikai context even to the point of declining. Entering the ring (so to speak) as a stranger usually means someone gets hurt.

I remember the last time I did randori in an Aikikai dojo I didn't dare do half the stuff that I would try in the Shodokan context even though I was assured that it would be no problem.

09-15-2003, 10:28 PM
Linden Sensei,

Like Yann and the others, I'd like to know how randori is structured in your dojo as to allow full speed, power, and contact...with participants still being able to go to work in the morning. I'd love a chance to see how it's done in your dojo...you don't go around swinging barstools and throwing cue balls at each other, do you? :)


09-16-2003, 05:01 AM
At my dojo we are doing regular jiyuwaza (multiple attackers with preset attacks attacking one defender who must evade) amongst the 6th, 5th and 4th kyus, even unranked people sometimes get involved.

The speed is regular practice speed and much emphasis is placed on delivering clear attacks with good follow-through. And footwork on the part of the nage to evade the blows.

Our jiyuwaza practice is not really pertinent to the issue because the emphasis is still on evading and moving and not technique but our instructor is constantly assuring us that as we grade and as our skill levels go up things will start going harder and faster.

I think the slow build-up to fullspeed randori is very important and I am grateful that we are getting it where I practice, I am only 6th kyu so I have another 5 or so years (I hope) before hitting shodan so hopefully by that time I will be ready for it.

09-16-2003, 06:34 AM
I would like a bit of clarification also.

I remember the last time I did randori in an Aikikai dojo I didn't dare do half the stuff that I would try in the Shodokan context even though I was assured that it would be no problem.
I'm always confused when aikido folks say randori, because randori brings forth a link to judo or MMA for me.

Is aikido randori like that (all out, do what you want, drag down, knock out) at Shodan level? Are you actually allowed to do what you want as long as it embraces *basic* aiki principle (irimi, tenkan etc)?

(no, I've not done aikido randori yet)

Also Peter - more details of the above!!

09-16-2003, 09:12 AM
Ping! Ping!

That's the sound of my ears perking waaaay up. :D

My fave subject of argume...er...discussion in the dojo - full-out randori. I talk a lot about it; simply because we never do it, and it drives me absolutely bonkers. See; I personally believe that practicing through semi-realism to near-realism is essential to developing one's aikido into a useful defence tool(never full realism; however brutal, no dojo would sanction that and remain open very long). Trouble is; too many people don't - they have no personal first-hand experience with fighting in the survival mode; and quite bluntly are either unable or unwilling - for whatever reason - to upset their own apple cart and admit their weaknesses within the skill. Given the talents of some of the people I have in mind; that's a real tragedy. They stop at good looking techniques, pretty taigi and dancelike randori and stick with them; either unaware or uncaring that all they know is useless unless they themselves - not just their techniques - are effective.

I reason it thus: First; I think it's a fine thing to study Aikido for its spiritual and social aspects. If that's your goal; great! Just don't delude yourself into thinking a perfectly pretty kokyunage is going to do anything at all to that freak coming at you with a broken beer bottle. All it's going to do is give you a wonderful sense of oneness with the Earth as you pry your occipital lobe out of the asphalt.

They're two entirely separate things: Self defence is self defence; and Aikido is Aikido, and never the twain shall meet. (Unless there's another twain on the same twack; but that's another topic....sorry. :D )

If one wants one's aikido to be effective as a defence tool; one must learn defence in addition to aikido, AND learn to integrate one into the other.

Aikido is easy. I'll wait for the howls of protest to die down. It is easy! It takes a little dedication, a little practice, plus a lot of interest and a sense of fun to learn. That's it, really. But defence? REAL defence? It ain't fun. And it ain't easy. It's hard, rough, brutal. Because when it happens; maybe that one time in your life when it will be required, you must do it right the first time, every time. You cannot try again, you can't say "a little softer, please" to the aforementioned beanbrain. You must win, or you will lose. Lose a little blood maybe; maybe only lose some prde. But it is also possible you may lose your life; or your self-respect, or more.

Does standard 'mat' aikido teach that? Not a chance. Does 'full-out' randori teach it? No again; although it takes an extremely important step forward: it forces the practicioner to think fast and to act without thought. It forces him to use aikido, not just techniques. It places him directly in the path of danger; however comparitively mild; forcing him to react on an instinctual level.

Ideally; it gives the student valuable experience; with which he can look beyond the techniques required for the next rank, to see them for what they are and gauge their suitability for HIS OWN defence needs.

To sum; I would put it this way: Dojos that offer standard 'friendly' randori can turn out good students - good at technique. Dojos that offer full-out randori - again structured to be safe, if potentially rough - turn out good students too; good at defence.

And isn't that the point? As I've stated, it's perfectly fine to study Aikido for spiritual purposes, but I submit: Learning Aikido consists largely of learning techniques. These techniques involve taking someone who is trying to attack you and hitting him - through one means or another - with the planet. In other words, to throw him. Sounds like a defence tool to me; not a meditation technique.Study however you wish; that defensive aspect is there; the essential core of aikido. Wouldn't it be best to keep that tool sharp?



09-16-2003, 02:18 PM
Hi everyone,

In my dojo a shodan randori refers to anyone of that rank or higher attacking anyone of that rank or higher in multples. 2,3, or 4 against one nage. The attacks are limited to strikes, kicks, or grabs - no eye gouging and guns and knives are prohibited. Nage, of course, is also allowed any technique and/or atemi he can find.

If the attack is real, full speed, and full contact, then the defense is as well, and thus the ukes must be both well defined in their attack and able to take excellant ukime because nage sure isn't pulling his punches.

This kind of intensity is mandatory for all who wish to be udansha in this dojo. You must be fearless, and able to carry on despite being hurt or hindered. Sorry to whichever one of you said that this training can't be done. It is done every day here.

I might add that in ten years we have only had one person bow out for this. For that visitor, his choice was the wise one.

09-16-2003, 03:44 PM
Does 'full-out' randori teach it? No again; although it takes an extremely important step forward:
Why not? What does?


09-16-2003, 04:03 PM
Why not? What does?

Full contact training against padded attackers who are very good at riling you up and/or intimidation, and also can simulate the reaction of blows that their protective suit absorbs from you.

09-16-2003, 04:11 PM
Hey, Dan! Where you been?

Please say hi to your guys for me. See you all for Ikeda in Orlando?

09-16-2003, 04:18 PM
Hello, JW. :)

I was on my way to bed; so I forgot to finish that point off, sorry. :) (That also explains the overall weirdness of the post. LOL)

Anyhoo; effective SD is far more than just learning how to trade various forms of nastiness on the mat; it also includes awareness, preparation and knowledge of the whole concept. It's been said time and time again; the best way to survive an attack is not to be attacked in the first place. That's true; but what's less discussed is how much control the prospective defender has over that aspect.

Regardless of the origin of the attack; the attacker invariably attacks for only one reason: because he thinks he can get away with it. He picks his targets in the same way a pack of wolves do: bypassing the big and strong; concentrating on the weak, sick, etc. AND the isolated.

Effective SD doesn't start when the fight starts, it starts at home; before you leave your house. It's most important aspects are those which are not taught in a dojo. Things such as: an awareness of things/people/locations around you. Some knowledge of how and where an attack could occur, and the potential risk. (Example: "I'm 5ft. tall, 98lbs and I've got a broken leg. I'm carrying $10,000 in cash in a big green box with dollar signs on it through local gang territory - it'd be a good idea to keep my eyes open.")

An attack doesn't always occur in back alleys, shady areas and nightclub parking lots; there are a great many places - called 'fringe areas' in which a potential for trouble is increased. "Fringes" are those areas which are public; generally open and seeming safe; but are far enough from safety they could pose a problem. Mall parking lots for example; stairwells, a busy city street where the anonymous nature of the crowd can give a potential attacker the ability to close and escape with a minimum of disclosure. Knowing about these areas and how to protect yourself within them goes a long way towards effective SD.

Once an attacker has made his move; there may still be possibilities of defusing a situation without violence. These have been discussed time and again on this forum. These also are effective SD techniques not taught during randori.

If the attacker gets through to the final stage, the physical assault; he does so because all the criteria for a potential victim has been met; and all possibilities for non-violent conflict have been exhausted. Then and only then does what is taught in randori come into play, IF the attacker gives you the chance to use it. If you're being mugged; he's NOT going to come straight at your face from twenty feet; he's going to ambush you.

Whoops - I've did it again; rambling too long and dealing to much with specifics; always a danger when writing on this forum. :)

Let's sum up like this: Full-force randori is an excellent tool for teaching defence of the physical assault; but in order to be truly effective at SD; a student must learn those techniques and concepts which will enable him/her to reduce the risk of attack in the first place. :)

Hope that clears up my viewpoint on this. Thanx!


09-16-2003, 07:55 PM
Also Peter - more details of the above!!
Hi Bob - it isn't Shodokan per se but I have noticed that most dojos that do randori, and I'll bet solid money that Dan's is the same way (as is mine), limit their techniques in randori. The limitations aren't concious (rules as such) but what gets done reflects what's taught and practiced in regular class. Because of this uke can usually take whats thown at him even if its a varient. However, when you bring in something totally new - you have problems.

With respect to the Aikikai style randori where the relationship between tori and uke is maintained the last time I participated I did not do both the application versions of shomen-ate or gedan-ate because I did not belive the group were familiar with all those techniques could be. That said in their context my randori (as it is in the Shodokan context) was terrible.

In Shodokan randori - especically toshu - the distinction between tori and uke does not exist. That was a direction I also couldn't go during my visit.

09-17-2003, 03:23 PM

Actually we train most methods of attack quite hard. I routinely prescribe twenty to fifty thousand full power strikes into a heavy bag if a student is having trouble hitting. He may spend six months getting it done, but at the end, after he has hit a heavy bag fifty thousand times, he knows damn well how to hit. It is the same for many things, however and I have also asked that a student sit and watch a daylilly blossom three times a week for several months to learn patience.

Training is as training does. If you want to develop speed, you must train fast. If you want to develop ki, you must train for it. If you want to be a good defensive martial artist, you must spend time defending yourself. No b.s., real time training. Full speed, full power, full contact.

09-19-2003, 10:19 AM

I thought every dojo did this regularly. Comments?
This is not always the case. I train regularly at two dojos where the philospohy is different. One is more martial than the other and randori at yundansha levels can be bruising and at times bloody affairs. Not dangerously so, perhaps the occassional blood nose, split lip.

The other dojo is more "sedate" and I think its more to do with the instructors liability cover than anything else. Nonetheless, I continue to train at this dojo because it provides me with the opportunity for a different perspective and the focus on fundamentals.

In this way I get the best of both worlds.

Happy training :)

09-19-2003, 11:24 AM
Training is as training does. If you want to develop speed, you must train fast. If you want to develop ki, you must train for it. If you want to be a good defensive martial artist, you must spend time defending yourself. No b.s., real time training. Full speed, full power, full contact.

One of the most accurate statements made about training in some time --- and, unfortunately one of the most ignored.

Very well said Mr. Linden, and from what I gather, very well lived.

Warm Regards,


09-19-2003, 07:22 PM
Thank you. I am generally over these postings, but still hold out the hope I can connect. You are welcome here if you ever get by.