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Old 09-19-2004, 06:19 PM   #18
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: randori with superuke

This is a portion of a written manual on randori...

Randori is the term we use in Aikido for defense against multiple attackers. While randori contains elements that would be applicable in real self-defense, it is much more than that in Aikido practice.

Aikido is often referred to as "moving Zen" and nowhere is that description more apt than in randori practice. Randori practice requires the practitioner to become one with the stream of time moving continuously in body and mind, never allowing his mind to stop his focus on any detail nor allowing his body to over-commit to any technical element. Instead, Nage must be completely in the present, while being conscious of how every past action led to the present instant and how the present movement shapes future possibilities.

In one sense randori is simply about executing a string of individual techniques. In fact, the old Aikido adage has been that "when facing multiple attackers act as if there is only a single attacker (at a time) and when facing a single attacker act as if there were multiple attackers." But this is a bit simplistic. A technique or movement that might be completely effective and appropriate against a single attacker might be the wrong move if it meant having your back to a second attacker in a randori.

So Nage's Mind must simultaneously maintain focus in the instant on clean and powerful physical technique and yet see the interaction with the Ukes as a whole that flows in time and space. Every action produces an effect that shapes future possibilities. So the Nage must not only focus on the present instant which is the only time in which physical action can take place, but he must also allow his mind to see the flow of past events which set up this instant in time and how the action he takes in this very moment serves to shape the possibilities of the next instant and all those that follow.

Nage not only has to focus in the present on the particular technique he is executing but he should know in that instant what his next move will be, the following move probably will be and the third move in the future could be. Of course the further out in the future he looks, the less certain the exact circumstances will be (because he can't control the various responses of the Ukes). But the closer to the current instant we are the more certainty exists in how this instant can precisely set up the next.

So how does the Aikidoka practice these skills? How does he develop that sense of what to do and when to do it that needs to be so automatic that it seems to happen on a non-conscious level? Repetition or practice is clearly important but mere repetition without the influence of a clear understanding of the principles that govern randori will not result in the highest level of performance. So the primary goal of randori practice is to isolate and clarify the various principles that govern the multiple-attacker interaction.

Randori is Controlling Time
The first requirement of a successful randori is effective technique. The best understanding of movement theory and strategy will be useless if the physical techniques being strung together are weak. Also, not all techniques are equally suited for use in Randori. If you think of technique in a temporal sense every one has a certain rhythm or "beat". The most useful techniques for use in Randori are the ones that can be done in one beat. Occasionally circumstances will allow for the execution of a technique which is two or three beats but generally there isn't enough time available for that.

At the heart of things randori is about controlling time. What makes randori difficult is that with several attackers, one has very little time in between one attack and another. Assuming that your technique is sufficient to handle one attacker at a time, then randori is really all about how to create time. Any action in a randori that doesn't create time for the Nage is essentially a wasted action.

For instance, 75% of the techniques one performs in a randori should result in an attacker taking a fall. An attacker with very good intention will be on you again in about two seconds if you simply evade his incoming attack. If, however, you throw him and move in the opposite direction, you will have 4 seconds before he gets back to the attack.

Normally, every attacker you touch should interfere with the movement of another attacker. In other words, treat each attacker as a weapon to be used against the other attackers. If you have slowed down the movement of an attacker by throwing one of the other attackers at him, you have thereby "created time" for yourself. If you choose not to throw an attacker at another attacker an alternative is to throw him as far as possible from yourself and the other attackers as possible. Time and distance are interchangeable: more distance equals more time.

Movement Principles
Randori strategy varies depending on the type of randori you are doing. It is best to begin with randori in which the attackers are attempting to grab the Nage but aren't executing striking attacks. This forces the Nage to balance his fluid movement with strong throwing technique, allows the Ukes to get a handle on randori ukemi (which is potentially dangerous), and keeps the interaction simpler and therefore more comprehensible so that the movement principles are more evident.
Once strikes are introduced, the randori becomes technically more complex. There are many more possibilities and the Nage has less time to work with because the strikes occur in an instant, as opposed to grabs which have temporal duration. The Nage at this point begins to incorporate striking techniques of his own in order to shorten the duration of a given technique. For example, executing an entry and striking the Uke's head, forcing him to take a fall in order to avoid being hit, takes less time than doing a kotegaeshi.

Randori Ukemi
It is very important that the Ukes respect the Nage's movement. If Nage strikes the space directly in front of the Uke's face, it is incumbent on the Uke to recognize that this is a strike that the Nage is choosing not to do and is not a throw. He should respect the fact that the Nage was kind enough not to hit him by taking the fall. When the Uke fails to acknowledge these techniques it forces the Nage to either actualize his atemi and smash the Uke or to back off in which case the Ukes will prevail because the Nage can not effectively "create time" as he needs to.

If you get to the point at which the randori practice is against armed attackers, the randori becomes almost entirely striking on the part of the Nage. He can't use his hands against the weapons the way he did against the arms of an attacker because they will be "cut". So technique is largely a mix of direct entry strikes with some evasion and use of the Ukes as shields used against the other attackers.

This is just a portion of the whole but I hope it is useful.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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