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Thread: Randori Competition!

  1. #31
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    I took this topic into my dojo to ask former university kenshi about their experiences with "randori taikai" here in Japan. All of them said that while there were "randori taikai", that they were non-competititive (no overall winners were announced). They mentioned that things sometimes got a bit wild (with university rivalries, excitable univesity aged kenshi in full protection etc...), but that for the most part, these taikai adhered to the same style of randori done in testing.

    This thread began with Johan's question about the competetive randori which he HEARD takes place in Japan. If it does take place here, I would like to hear the specifics of where and when (and please don't mention the demonstration randori performed by high ranking -- usually Hombu -- Sensei at the zenkoku taikais, that is something completely different). Looking forward to your responses.

    Best regards,
    Mike Johnson
    Inuyama Kita Shibu

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    Default Randori

    From 1992 to 1997, while living in Shizuoka prefecture, I had the opportunity to attend several ken-taikai. There was usually a short Randori competition which took place after all the embu were finished. It was very good natured and, while it drew tremendous interest, particularly from the younger kenshi, it seemed to be considered a 'fun' activity and not to be taken terribly seriously- certainly the embu portion of the taikai was the 'main event'. This is not to say that those participating were not focused! It was taken quite seriously by the randori participants themselves.

    From what I recall, only one representative per dojo was permitted. At Tenryu gawa doin, where I trained, Atsumi sensei would simply pick someone. He made a point of choosing different kenshi each year, unless the previous year's entrant had won, in which case he was given the opportunity to defend his title!
    Those participating - from our dojo at least - were always nidan and above, and between the ages of about 20 - 35.

    There were no women participating in randori that I saw, and there were no weight classes or levels at all. It was a straight single loss elimination draw, which continued until only one kenshi remained.

    Fist protectors, groin protectors, dos, and full head gear (with the clear visor and padding all round) was used. The referees kept things quite under control.

    That's it - Just thought I'd share my experiences with the forum.

  3. #33
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    Cool

    This was a very interesting thread to read!

    One subject that I don’t really understand is "Why shall we be a big martial art?" Is that to be able to change the world according to Kaiso’s beliefs. I understand (or believe I do) what kind of world he wanted to build. But is it not more important to focus on how to get there. To the world Kaiso believed in, I don’t think we will by having radori competitions.

    If we have; I think that the new target group of people will be the same as all other martial arts are trying to attract. And we will be in a more competitive environment (in a marketing perspective). I also think that we might loose some of the members that we have today because of competitions.

    I believe in what Philip Kotler one said "Nichers are richer". I think Shorinji Kempo has is own niche being unique in many areas were not having randori competitions are one. If this change we will be more main stream among the other martial arts. I think that the issue for Shorinji Kempo should be to focus more on communicating to the world outside of martial artists what we stand for as of today and in that way attract new members.

    This is what I truly believe,

    Robert Persson

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  5. #34
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    This has been a long discussion....hopefully I can shed some more light.
    Randori competition is practised in Japan. I know at about 5 prefectures that do it. Ehime-ken and Fukuoka-ken to name two. The one in Ehime-ken had weight divisions, attacks only to chudan and open to any kenshi. My impression was that it was quite violent (although safe), contradictory to most practise of Shorinji, and....very good fun. Other countries do it or have done it, including the U.K. (I'm in the process of organising a randori competition for next year).

    To be honest, I think this is the majority of people's views. Whether people think its necessary or not, they enjoy it in one form of another (competitive, light, free or fixed). Even if they don't enjoy it, it is an integral part of Shorinji Kempo. In my opinion, it is up to the branch masters to provide randori to their kenshi based on their preferences and requirements. Each dojo has their own emphasis of randori...and this is fine, but it should be practicised.

    There are many to practice. here's some examples:
    3 speeds (slow, medium & light, normal speed & power)
    free (attack & defence both sides)
    1 attacker, 1 defender
    2 on 1
    fixed e.g. kicks vs. punches; close/far distance etc.
    technical...

    The technical one is the one I use most. It bridges the gap between practising a technique and using it in a self defence situation (gi, jutsu, ryaku)
    Stage 1 - practise, checking 5 elements of atemi
    Stage 2 - full speed & power as grading/embu
    Stage 3 - gentai randori (only the technique but at any time and from either side)
    Stage 4 - jyu randori (free but with the technique mixed in...defender has to try and spot the oppotunity)
    Stage 5 - self defence - from normal standing and attacker provides a street situation

    The actual technique used can be one (e.g. uchi uke zuki) or a few similar ones (e.g. attack: gyaku zuki jodan; defence: uchi uke zuki (ura/omote); Soto uke zuki (ura/omote); Uwa uke geri (ura/omote)

    This way of practise makes enjoyable randori and gives kenshi a chance to become proficient and confident of using their techniques in a variety of situations. It also helps to prevent the common "cock-fighting randori" (all attacks and no technique) that a lot of people do when they are under pressure. I have taught and practiced many styles of randori and find that each club has its own emphasis and preference.

    In summary: Randori IS part of Shorinji Kempo. It is not the main emphasis but is necessary to improve proficiency in self-defence. Find a means to practise it which is both enjoyable and beneficial to the kenshi.
    The end result is fun training and a technical improvement. If its not, then keep changing the emphasis until it is.

    Hope this helps.
    Cailey Barker
    Bushin

  6. #35
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    Gassho,

    The original idea behind this thread was to evaluate whether an increased emphasis on competitive randori would make Shorinji Kempo more appealing to young people.

    According to a Hombu report entitled "Randori as a means of practicing Hokei" released in the early 1980s (I think), Hombu's viewpoint is that the purpose of randori is to allow kenshi to experience the challenge of applying technique in an unpredictable environment. The assumption, however, is that kenshi know techniques to apply - otherwise what will result?

    I have trained in Shorinji Kempo dojos with a variety of viewpoints regarding randori, from (at the extremes) no randori at all to a Kyokushinkai-like, full contact style of free randori. Given Hombu's viewpoint and having seen a variety of randori approaches, my feeling is that randori is a vital aspect of training but first it is necessary to create a sound technical base. Indeed, Cailey's comments re. learning Hokei, applying it in ura/omote form and trying to then use it in free randori is a good way to learn randori. At our Branch we attempt to teach randori in a stepwise manner by focussing on specific aspects and then trying to use them against free attacks.

    As for randori competition, it is questionable whether it is really consistent with our philosophy. Unlike embu, there is an impression that someone "defeated" another in randori competition. If someone wishes to become a randori competition specialist he/she would inevitably measure themselves in terms of wins and losses. Is that what we are about? If a Branch were known as being strong in randori would there be pressure to over-emphasize competitive randori in general practice?

    The experience at our Branch is that majority of beginners are drawn to Shorinji Kempo precisely because it is different to the more competitive arts. They are also drawn by the philosophical aspects and emphasis on cooperation. My belief is that we will continue to attract people to Shorinji Kempo and strengthen the art by actually DOING Shorinji Kempo and not trying to turn it into something else. After all, how many of us can honestly state that we have firmly mastered all kihon movements, all our curriculum hokei, Kongo Zen philosophy, zazen, embu, kata, randori (goho and juho), and seiho (all types). And if you've managed that, what things do you do to help your local community?

    I'd like to echo the earlier comment that embu performed well is impressive. If we wish to attract people with something that truly is representative of our art, perhaps that would be a good place to start. Randori is a vital part of Shorinji Kempo, but an emphasis on competition is going too far in my opinion.

    Kesshu,

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  8. #36
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    Default Randori

    Thank you Thomas and John for sharing your experiences with randori competition in Japan. What you describe in Ehime Caley, competetition with weight divisions, is something that I have never seen nor heard of in my time living and training in Hokkaido, Chiba and Aichi prefectures. The weight division thing strikes me as bizarre -- to me it seems contradictory to notion of goho techniques being effective regardless of size and weight (I know there are practical considerations, ie. trying to avoid injuries, but it still strikes me as odd). Thanks again for your interesting posts.

    Best Regards,
    Mike Johnson
    Inuyama Kita Shibu

  9. #37
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    I agree, Mike. Highly against Shorinji principles. However, most of the participants (including me) enjoyed it. The women too. It just depends on the prefecture...they all vary.

    I also agree with John. However, although Randori competition should never be the main emphasis, doing it once in a while is good practise. Hokei style randori doesn't have the same pressure and tension as competition randori. Something close to this is experienced in a street style situation. Keeping Hei do Shin is part of the practise too...the randori competition just needs to be kept in control.
    (I remember a very heated debate on this between Jee Sensei and Graham Nabbs - they vehemently disagreed on competition...I'll let you figure out which sides they were on).
    Cailey Barker
    Bushin

  10. #38
    MarkF Guest

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    If you do not mind, and since this is a discussion about two things which have made a big difference in my life, and that is randori and contest-randori, or shiai.

    In the early days, it was truly a shi ni ai: shiai. one judge decided who had lost, won, the time limit of the match (after one was simply and totally defeated, or after both could no longer continue), and working in doing randori in the same full-resistence mode as in shiai.

    Most look at what happened to judo in the Olympics, or in world championships, but the truth lies in the small judo clubs which pepper the landscape in every corner of the world.

    Simply, it just isn't like what is seen in the Olympics, competitiors are arranged by grade, age, and approximate height, but never to weight. The only thing which has changed, leaving out the big tournament partial point scoring matches, is that there are time limits, but not because someone could be hurt, but because of the lenght of time it would take to get in everyone who entered.

    Randori has other beneficial effects than practicing what is learned in a "real" invironment, so friendship, kibutzing, fighting, or playing against those who are of relatively the same experience, gives the winner a day to celebrate, the loser time to inprove before the next shiai, and otherwise go up against neighboring dojo.

    Either way, randori does have benefits, whether to test one's skills, or to practice technique so as to learn SD.

    So run with it. Instill differing rules so as to make randori relatively safe (if you listen to a bunch of old judoka talking about "war" injuries, it doesn't seem so safe), but when it does mean a student is bored, and keeping a student who is sure to move past this if given a chance, randori certainly has its place. I wouldn't still be training, and learning the ura of judo, such as ko shiki no kata, weapons, kime no kata, all which come after the fight is all gone from your body and mind. It just may be the thing to hold interest until one is ready to move on, not necessarily to teach, but to do some real training.

    No one can have it both ways, but I can't think of a better way of smoothing over the impatient years with a small contest we usually call invitationals, as one dojo hosts all the others in the same area. If it is kids we are speaking of, ask the parents to also participate, in the planning of tournaments, the hours a dojo may want to consider for class time best for all considered, and to keep the doors open in whatever way it can be done.

    Well, I'm off my rant now, and back to business, but just speaking from personal experience, it was a blast! I may get beat up if the challenge were to go on for more than thirty seconds, but it was grand while it lasted. It also made me more aware of what was available afterwards, as there is no such thing as a retired student.

    Mark



  11. #39
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    Mark,

    Thanks for the outside perspective. In general, I think we all agree on the value of randori in regular practice - I think where the disagreement comes in is on the subject of whether or not we should extend that kind of practice to more competitive situations (i.e., tournaments with winners and losers).

    I am curious if you perceive any negative effects to this kind of practice, such as excessive ego, overly-competitive attitudes, etc.? I am also curious about how tournament competition has affected the philosophy of judo. As I said in an earlier post, I have heard that the founder of judo originally intended it as a means of moral/philosophical instruction, but that the philosophical content has been lost as it became a competitive sport. Is this true from your perspective?
    Gary Dolce
    Ann Arbor Branch
    WSKO
    Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
    http://www.shorinjikempo.com

  12. #40
    Daniel Latham Guest

    Default randori - judo

    Mark

    I was a member of the US Judo Association for a little while. As I remember, the way to proceed in belt ranking was to defeat opponents in competition; so many points for opponent of equal rank, more points for opponent of higher rank. Am I correct?

    USJA is the association that administers the US olympic judo program. Maybe other groups have different rules. Please keep me informed.

    Dan Latham
    South Oregon

  13. #41
    MarkF Guest

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    .Well, first off, the USJA is a branch arm, along with the USJF (formerly the US black belt Federation), with the national umbrella organization, the USJI (US Judo Incorporated). The world organization is the International Judo Federation, and the one which deals directly with Olympic and other International judo events. Yes, competition wins and losses are sometimes used to grade judoka.

    That said, there is nothing in any of the organizations' rule books, espcially with the IJF, which says one must be graded with shiai results speaking for you. If you go to the IJF site, http://www.ijf.org , it is spelled out that it is recommended but in no way must it be followed, that all rules of the IJF be in action in shiai, grading tests, if any (the traditional way differed widely, but in the sixties and seventies, it was not nearly so specific that a grading test be part of any promotion).

    The USJF was the first national US branch of the IJF. The USJA came about when a man named Philip Porter (a man who today calls himself "O-sensei,") an organizer of the Armed Forces Judo Association went to court to break up the seeming hold that the USJF had on American judo. He won. There were many reasons for this, but, yes, you are correct that this was much more important in the early days of the USJA (formerly the Armed forces Judo Association) winning in shiai did get you points, and you would advance. The USJF was similar, but was far more tolerant of the traditional judoka who believed the sensei was aware of who should advance a grade, rather than a win/ loss percentage, but this happened frequently in all organizations. On the other hand, the average time to shodan was eight years, and it took me more than nine.

    However, the only "tests" I was given was for sankyu (at the age of thirteen, sometime in 1964, before the USJA existed as such, and at shodan, where I was graded at that level, I chose to do formal kata instead of my won/loss records doing it for me. This could go on forever.

    However, in the years since the IJF collaborated with the IOC, some things have changed, and not for the better, I'm afraid. Partial point scoring (but four quarter points do not equal a full point?), passivity penalties which give the opponent a partial point for the rule infraction, has eliminated near pefect nagewaza (waza-ari, or "a technique has happened!") or the perfect nage (One point. Match over!), or pinning, chokes, joint locks, submission are rarely found, and when one does try for a pin, it better contain some type of waza or you could face a shido (equal to koka, or eighth point) for stalling. Then it gets even better.

    Basically, you are right. There are many negative aspects fo these constant changes in the rules. The fact that there are meetings to discuss rule changes amoung class A international shimban more than twice yearly, and clinics in which new hand/body movements, not to mention the change in vocabulary, must be taught to the officials, does give the appearance of damaged goods. While there were some good rule changes, such in allowing one opponent to wear a blue judogi (offical errors went down by up to forty percent), it has changed what was a way of learning into a must-win environment.

    So to come back to what the meaning of contest judo was and is, one must go back to pre-1930s judo practice, as Prof. Jigoro Kano, became largely a figure head by then, while the Kodokan was becoming politicized. One learned judoka, who did go back around that time said "this is not MY judo."

    One could go on and on concerning what is wrong with judo, and more importantly, what has happened to the great shi ni ai (now shiai) and what judo really was. The contest was simply a manner of learning, a way of showing respect. One could be a winner for a day, but back in the dojo, that rubs off quickly. The contest really wasn't more than organized randori, and randori was not an invention of Mr. Kano, nor was the term judo his. Judo was first used by an old school of kito ryu, called jikishin-ryu, and was first used in the late 18 century. Challenges and contests were not of judo. It was being practiced regularly by the various ryuha of jujutsu. Kano simply organinized it by placing waza in certain basic categories; those of randori, and those of kata. The oldest judo kata, ko shiki no kata, is pure kito ryu, and is said to be the "ura" of judo, or what others may describe as "secret." It was originally practiced in armor.

    But the contest was simply an extension of something which all ready existed, but also was in its death throes. Jujutsu was dying, and preserving this would have to become a way of life, and to allow everyone who wanted to learn, to do so. There is challenge in everyone's life, and Kano sought a way to teach this with the shiai. Someone lost, someone won, but it always lead to "mutual welfare," the foundation of judo.

    But I don't think anyone was ready for this to work as fast as it did. Taking the real danger out of randori and shiai meant anyone could do this, but it had to apply to everything in your life. The one great exaggeration people have made over time, that Kano wanted judo to be an Olympic sport. This is not so. He always maintained, and even on the trip on which he died, after a meeting of the IOC in Cairo, Mr. Kano did not bring up the subject of judo, the game. In fact, Kano said "Judo is not a game." It is far too dangerous to be taken as a simple game."

    Politics are to blame for this. Even the Kodokan is anything but innocent. The book Kodokan Judo by Dr. Jigoro Kano was not written by him, it was not published until 1958, twenty years after Kano's death.

    So, I will stop this rambling, by saying that in my dojo, the rules of grading and shiai, are as close to the "old guys" as possible, except for a time limit for matches. The longest match in judo history, was 55 minutes, and that was the first of the great challenge matches in the late 19 century, and ended in a draw (see http://www.furyu.com third edition, and is online). In New Mexico, there are still the small invitationals for child and adult, and parents are encouraged to participate in organization. Matches, have only two scores, waza-ari and ippon. Draws happen frequently, and just like the old days, one fought until he couldn't fight anymore, or lost. No breaks for water, rest, etc. I left LA so I could go back to this type of surrounding.

    You are correct to question it. I only wish those involved would question the motivations of some.

    Judo is a great sport and martial art. Many who start in MA, do begin with judo. I may have been lucky, but at the age of twelve, my teacher showed me things I later found to be atemi no kata, kyusho, newaza which no one, not the man I called sensei, had seen. As in life, patience is a virtue in judo. It is all there, and even those today who practice koryu, do some judo, eg, Meik Skoss, Kit Leblanc (submission grappling), etc. Show a little patience to judoka. Karate has taken even worse hits, but it survives, as will judo. I'm not too worried.

    Mark

  14. #42
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    This topic was a real hot one near 3 years ago

    And I had a lot of really good opinions back then......... (wonder what hapenned there )


    A new one for all you newbies.....
    Steve Williams

    Harrow Branch.
    Shorinji Kempo UK.
    www.ukskf.org




  15. #43
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    wasnt Randori more prominent in the earlier years then much heavier regulated after someone died ?
    I am new to Shorinji Kempo but I was talking to sensi Lofton today about this subject after reading this.
    He told me Kaiso sort of pulled the plug on alot of the Randori after a death during Randori.
    Kurt Forbes
    Alabama Shorinji Kempo

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    Yes Kurt, I believe that this is so. However, I think the death occurred long after Kaiso died (1980, if I recall). So it would have been the WSKO Technical Committee and Kancho who gave the order.

    I don't know the details of the death, but I gather it was a "head-hits-floor" kind of thing. Possibly related to over-enthusiastic competitive spirit.

    The Universities in Japan love to build up rivalries and compete with each other in every club pursuit or sports activity possible. That way University X gets to claim superiority over UniversityY, in say, Chess... or Rugby... or Baseball... or Shorinji Kempo. It was possible to imagine this level of raised testosterone could be perverting the purpose behind Randori, of mutual progress and betterment. So outright competition with winners and losers is now discouraged (although Randori within the Dojo is still an important element of training).

    Some of the earlier posts talk about this, but I'm summarising in case it was a bit confused (people have been talking about this in several threads, and it doesn't always make sense ).
    David Noble
    Shorinji Kempo (1983 - 1988)
    I'll think of a proper sig when I get a minute...

    For now, I'm just waiting for the smack of the Bo against a hard wooden floor....

  17. #45
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    Originally posted by John McCulloch
    According to a Hombu report entitled "Randori as a means of practicing Hokei" released in the early 1980s (I think), Hombu's viewpoint is that the purpose of randori is to allow kenshi to experience the challenge of applying technique in an unpredictable environment.
    Does anyone have this report? I'd be interested to read it.
    David Dunn
    Cambridge Dojo
    BSKF

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