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Book Review: Judo Formal Techniques by Tadao Otaki and Donn Draeger

It's not exactly light summer reading, but but if you want to learn Nage no Kata or Katame no Kata, this is your book.  Three stars (out of four)
Buy it here.

The Upshot:
Everything you ever wanted to know about the Randori no Kata (Nage no Kata and Katame no Kata).  It gives you the details for Uke and Tori in an easy-to-follow manner.  And when I say that it gives you the details, it even covers how to sit up after you are thrown.  450 pages, over 1,000 illustrations...  lots of detail.  Not one that you will want to read cover-to-cover (God help you), but if you want to investigate a particular technique, you'll almost assuredly find what you need in here.


What's In It, and How It's Organized:

  • Historical Background
  • Outline of Judo Kata - A very brief overview of the official Kodokan Kata as well as a mention of the unofficial Kata
  • Understanding Kata - Making the case for studying Kata
  • Famous Japanese Judoists on Kata - Other people making the case for studying Kata
  • Kata Fundamentals - Notes about things like mindset, breathing, and adjusting the gi... general aspects that don't apply specifically to one Kata or the other
  • Technical Aspects of Nage no Kata - Think of this as general tips specific to Nage no Kata
  • Technical Aspects of Katame no Kata
  • Nage no Kata - The nitty-gritty
  • Katame no Kata
  • The Study and Practice of Kata - How to make the most of Kata training
The Good:
As I mentioned, if you are studying Nage no Kata or Katame no Kata, this has what you need.  The photos and illustrations are all very helpful (showing both the right ways of doing things as well as common mistakes).  More than that, the non-technical sections are great, as well, particularly the last chapter.  I have grown to appreciate this book more and more over the years, and this last chapter is one of the big reasons why... it gives great advice on how to make Kata a useful part of your practice, rather than just that mandatory thing that you have to do in preparation for rank tests.


Could Have Been Better:
One thing I would have liked to have seen is more on the historical development of these Kata - how they changed and evolved over the years, what different variants were popular, etc.  Otaki and Draeger definitely present this as "the one true way" with little tolerance for variation, which seems stifling to me... That said, they do advocate variation in some of the non-technical chapters. The layout of the chapters was a bit odd (e.g., why not put "Technical Aspects of Nage no Kata" next to the "Nage no Kata" chapter), but given that this is more of a reference book than one you would read front-to-back, that doesn't detract too much.


One Thing I Learned:
Nage no Kata. But seriously, folks...  I already wrote about it here, but the most important thing I learned recently was the differences between the various incarnations of the 3-push attacks.  The 3-pushes never made sense to me before, because I couldn't figure out why Tori was doing Kata Guruma instead of another Uki Otoshi. The explanations in "Formal Techniques" (largely contained in one brief section where he reviews the differences) helped the 3-push attacks fit in with my conception of what Kata was supposed to be.

If you are just learning the Kata, you probably don't need this book.  If you think Kata is a complete waste of time, and nobody can persuade you otherwise, you can do without this book.  If you just need to be able to make it look good enough for rank examinations, skip it.  But if you are curious about Kata in general or Nage/Katame no Kata in specific, if you want to figure out how to make Kata a useful tool in your training repertoire, or you are in a serious study of Nage no Kata, you should get the book.  There is not - and has not been - any book in English that even comes close (I don't know about other languages).

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A Note for Akari Judo Students re: Nage no Kata: I've Been Doing it Wrong

Umm... It takes a big man to admit when he's wrong?  Well, I think Nage no Kata will give me plenty of chances to demonstrate my bigness.  

So... quick note here for anyone who has learned Nage no Kata from me:  I have been teaching (and executing) both the 3-push and head bash attacks wrong, for the most part.

For the 3-push, the main culprit, as I mentioned in my discussion of the variations in the 3-push attack, is that I only recently put together the fact that there are actually supposed to be any differences in this attack.  So when I taught it before, all 6 of my 3-pushes were the same - and it was just on Tori to choose a different attack.  This was wrong.  Oh, and in addition to the differences that I mentioned, Uke isn't really supposed to nail the heel/toe foot spacing.  I think he tries, but Tori's actions screw him up, such that the trailing foot is sometimes further back.

For the head bash, my second step has been too big on all but the Yoko Guruma attack...  Uke is supposed to strike with his feet almost at heel/toe, rather than at the end of a giant stride.  The first step is still big, but the second step is usually smaller.  This, of course, means that you must set up closer to Tori than you are used to (provided that you are used to doing it the way I do it).  I've known about the differences in this attack, but I didn't realize that my foot spacing had been wrong.  I think this adjustment will make the first 3 muuuch easier.

I realized this as I went through my source materials to research these posts...  Looking at the pictures, better understanding Uke's adjustments and mindset...  yeah... I've been doing it wrong.  Whoops.

So here's what I need from you, Akari Judoka:  Help me.  I will forget.  I will go back to the way I have trained it for the last 20 years.  Keep an eye on me, and call me out when I do it my old, wrong way.  Then we can all get better!

Thanks!

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Nage no Kata Attacks - Uke Gets Smarter #2: The Head Bash

Uke gets smarter... but he never quite gets smart enough to realize that tennis-serving someone's head is not the most effective assault.

Continuing from my last post, in which I discuss subtle variations in the 6 incarnations of the 3-push, I'll now turn my attention to the next most frequent attack:  The "Head Bash."  You know, that great big silly-looking overhead smash of Uke's head...  Just like in the 3-push, each manifestation of the head bash will be different than the one before it, based on what Uke learned in his previous encounter.

  • Ippon Seoi Nage: Similar to the first 3-push, this is a totally reckless attack, where Uke is trying to knock Tori's head into her torso, and has no regard for his balance, extension, and general vulerability.  He puts his whole body into the attack.
  • Uki Goshi: Now, Uke realizes that he was overcommitted to the attack, and holds back.  He better balances his weight on each foot, and straightens up some (as opposed to bending during the prior attack) to stifle any incoming Seoi Nage.  He also posts his left hand to check Tori's hips, should she try to blast him with Seoi again.  All of this sets up Uki Goshi quite nicely.
  • Ura Nage: Now Uke has modified his prior thinking.  He still doesn't want to destroy his balance (as in Seoi), but stiffening up wasn't a good idea (as in Uki Goshi).  Now, he sinks his weight a bit, and adds his heavy follow through back in.  And gets blasted with Ura Nage.
  • Yoko Guruma: To thwart the Ura Nage, as well as the Seoi and Uki Goshi, Uke now lengthens his base (basically taking a larger second step towards Tori). Tori, in one of his most oblivious moments of the whole Kata, doesn't pick up on the change and attempts another Ura Nage. Uke then responds to the Ura by headlocking Tori and shoving her head down at ~90 degrees to the original attack.  This gives Tori the perfect setup for the Yoko Guruma.

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Nage no Kata Attacks - Uke Gets Smarter #1: The 3-Push

Uke gets smarter... but he never quite gets smart enough to stop attacking someone who clearly outclasses him.

As I mentioned in my Nage no Kata overview, Uke may repeat the same type of attack (e.g., the 3-push), but he's going to change the specifics of those attacks to address the gaps that got him thrown the last time he tried it. It is these subtle changes, then, that cause Tori to utilize a different throw than the one she tried before.  See below for examples of what I'm talking about.  Before you do that, though, note that this is based a little bit on instruction, a lot on Otaki/Draeger's Formal Techniques, a little on Legget's Demonstration of Throws, and a bit of educated guess.  Add to that that I only recently gathered all of this together, so I'm not even close to having the execution down.  Which is to say that you should take this interpretation with a grain of salt.

With those caveats, here's my understanding of how the 3 push attacks change.

  • Uki Otoshi: "Unhesitating" advance.  Uke is putting everything into it, not giving much thought to consequences.
  • Kata Guruma: Uke braces with the lead foot to avoid being over-extended - this presents a target for Tori's Kata Guruma. Additionally, Uke tries to have a more relaxed body during the push.  Tori feels this and changes the grip to freak Uke out a bit and to cause him to stiffen up.  
  • Harai Goshi: Uke does a better job of blending with Tori, again seeking to relax, and is thinking to walk around a Kata Guruma attempt, so Tori changes his grip (hand behind the armpit), which then causes Uke to stiffen and helps the Kuzushi. The Harai action, in combination with Tori's pull, is a response to Uke's attempt to go off-line. 
  • Tsurikomi Goshi: Uke hangs back a bit to avoid Harai *and* keeps his elbow in (thus preventing the previous grip change).  Tori's initial grip change (to the high lapel) freaks Uke out a little (and causes some stiffening), and then Tori feints a "normal height" hip throw to trigger an "extreme stiffening" in Uke (an attempted hip check, basically), and immediately drops the bottom out with Tsuri Komi Goshi.
  • Sasae Tsurikomi Ashi:  Uke does a great job blending with Tori... until the Tori's "J-step" (the long withdrawal of her lead foot past her rear foot and out to the side; the step that immediately precedes the lifting of her propping foot), and that causes Uke - once again - to freak out a bit, stiffen up, and allow Tori's additional retreat to unbalance him.
  • Yoko Gake:  Uke again does a great job of blending with Tori, so Tori starts to turn Uke by ratcheting in the elbow.  This screws with Uke's ability to maintain the excellent blending.  Then Uke gets blasted with Yoko Gake.  Poor devil.
One thing that bothers me a little bit with this understanding is that starting in Tsurikomi Goshi, and increasingly through the remaining throws, Uke isn't really doing anything that different than before.  For instance, I can't tell that Uke is doing anything that different in Sasae than he was doing for the Tsurikomi Goshi... so why doesn't Tori just change his grip and bust Uke with another Tsurikomi Goshi?  I *think* the answer is that Uke is continuing to get smarter, and the grip change won't work on him again, but Tori is getting smarter, too, and more intuitive.  So she moves from a Go no Sen situation in Kata Guruma where she's responding to the bracing leg to a Sensen no Sen situation in Yoko Gake, where Tori realizes that the grip changes and fancy footwork won't have the desired effects, so she starts ratcheting in the elbow.

Any opinions on this? If you disagree or have additional insight on this, I'd appreciate a comment!

Next post will be about the differences in the head smash.


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Nage no Kata - The Overview

My next several posts are going to be about Nage no Kata, so I figured I would give a brief primer on it first...

Nage no Kata - "Forms of Throwing"
This Kata has 5 sets (one for each class of throw) containing 3 throws each, aimed at demonstrating the breadth of throwing techniques found in Judo.  In my opinion, there are 3 main aims of this Kata:

  1. To promote practice, investigation, and eventually mastery of the breadth of standing techniques
  2. To instill "automatic" responses to broadly different types of attack movements (e.g., pushes, head bops, etc); this is hard
  3. Building on #2, to instill a natural sensitivity in Tori to discern subtle differences between otherwise similar attacks (e.g., a "reckless" push vs. a "halting" push), and to "automate" an appropriate response to these different attacks; this one is really hard
As mentioned, the each 5 sets corresponds to a class of throws.  It begins with the three classes of standing throws (Tachi Waza), followed by the two classes of Sacrifice Techniques (Sutemi Waza) to complete the Kata:
  1. Te Waza (Hand Techniques)
    • Uki Otoshi
    • Ippon Seoi Nage
    • Kata Guruma
  2. Koshi Waza (Hip Techniques)
    • Uki Goshi
    • Harai Goshi
    • Tsurikomi Goshi
  3. Ashi Waza (Foot/Leg Techniques)
    • Okuriashi Barai
    • Sasae Tsurikomi Ashi
    • Uchi Mata
  4. Ma Sutemi Waza (Back Sacrifice Techniques)
    • Tomoe Nage
    • Ura Nage
    • Sumi Gaeshi
  5. Yoko Sutemi Waza (Side Sacrifice Techniques)
    • Yoko Gake
    • Yoko Guruma
    • Uki Waza
There are broadly 4 types of attack that Uke will initiate, with generally slight differences between each manifestation of the attack which then triggers Tori to react with a different throw.  You can think of these differences in attack as Uke's response to his previous attack of that sort. He learns.  E.g. the first time he attempted the head smash, he got thrown with Seoi Nage, so the second time he tries it, he's going to post the non-smashing hand to foil the Seoi and better distribute his weight... unwittingly setting up an Uki Goshi for Tori. (note - the names for the attacks are just what I call them... if they have proper names, I don't know them)
  • Push to the rear, a.k.a., the "Three Push" - 8 (ish) versions... 6 for sure, resulting in:  Uki Otoshi, Kata Guruma, Harai Goshi, Tsurkomi Goshi, Sasae Tsurikomi Ashi, Yoko Gake
    • The "ish" part is because in Uchi Mata and Tomoe Nage, I believe Uke is intending to initiate a 3 push, but never really gets started; Tori steals the initiative.
  • Head smash, a.k.a, the "Bunny Foofoo" - 4 versions, resulting in: Ippon Seoi Nage, Uki Goshi, Ura Nage, Yoko Guruma
  • Sideways drag - 1 version, resulting in: Okuriashi Barai
  • Jigotai grab, a.k.a, the "Sumo Shuffle" - 2 versions, resulting in: Sumi Gaeshi, Uki Waza
    • This one kind of stretches the concept of Uke "attacking" but you can think of this one as another instance of Tori "stealing the initiative"
Uke's first attack will always be "right-sided," but Tori's response will not (e.g., Tori responds to a right-handed head smash with a left-sided Uki Goshi)
There is one good (book) reference for Nage no Kata that I know of that is still in print, and that is "Judo Formal Techniques" by Otaki and Draeger (use the link below to buy the book from Amazon, and I get a kickback!).  "Kodokan Judo" has a good quick overview, but it's really only useful in case you forget the order... it doesn't give much guidance.  And I'm sure that there are some good videos out there, but I don't have any of them.  Any recommendations?
Judo Formal Techniques: A Complete Guide to Kodokan Randori no Kata

Nage no Kata Fun Facts:
  • This is one of the two "Randori no Kata;" the other is Katame no Kata (Forms of Grappling)
  • Kano included Kata Guruma as the final piece of Nage no Kata in it's present form; it displaced Sukui Nage from a previous version
    • As a result, Uke never does a back breakfall in this Kata
  • *I believe* this is the only Kata that demonstrates each technique both right- and left-sided

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In Kata, Uke is in the Driver's Seat

Ever notice in the old pictures and videos of people doing Kata, Uke is often has the higher rank...  Ever wonder why that is?  Part of it is because Uke has a harder job than Tori...

You may  have already read my prior posts explaining that Uke has a job.   Nowhere is that more true than in Kata; in most Kata, Uke is responsible for the just about the whole thing.  Uke must...
  • ... create the right circumstances for Tori to execute the desired technique(s).   Uke dictates what throw is to be done by his movement and the other specifics of his attack.  Tori just has to recognize what Uke is "telling" her to do (via his attack), and then do it.  This is really really hard when you get into the finer distinctions...  So hard that I've not yet done it right (even approaching right) for an entire kata. (I'll post more about this in Nage no Kata later)
  • ... set the right spacing between partners.  This is really just a part of creating the right circumstances, but I'm calling it out separately because it happens "in-between" techniques.  In most Kata, Tori just picks a spot on the mat, and Uke then picks the best point from which to launch his attack.  Uke adjusts to Tori, not the other way around.  As a side note, if you are my Tori in a Kata practice, STOP MOVING!  I'm setting the distance I want, so when you inch towards me, I need to inch back.  =:>
  • ... remember the order in which the techniques are to be performed. By setting the spacing and generally moving first, and otherwise creating the right situation for the throw, Uke is really on the hook for remembering the order. In advanced Nage no Kata practice, Uke can intentionally screw up the order of techniques as a check on whether Tori is properly tuned in.
  • ... set the pace at which the Kata is to be performed.  If Uke goes fast, then Tori must go fast.  If Uke goes slow, then Tori should go slow.
  • ... set the mood.  No, not cranking up the Teddy Pendergrass and lighting candles.  I'm talking about creating the right frame of mind for the practice.  Focus, intensity, even the underlying intentions...  Sure, Uke is pushing Tori, but what is he trying to accomplish with this push?  This is really another sub-set of creating the right circumstances, but I wanted to call it out.
Of course, each Kata is different, so this stuff will be true to varying degrees depending on which Kata you are practicing.  I had Nage no Kata and Ju no Kata at top of mind when writing this, and I think every point above applies to those two Kata.  Spacing doesn't apply to Katame, and maybe not to the entirety of Itsutsu, and I don't have enough experience with the rest to say one way or the other.  But you should at least evaluate these dimensions when you are practicing Kata.

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Oh Boy! MORE NEW RULES!

Another year, another set of rules...And the introduction of the “Super Ippon!”  Not kidding.

Oy.  Back at it.  The IJF has published yet another suite of changes to their rules. This isn't breaking news, mind you, but I got my first dose of first-hand experience this weekend at the Takemori Open.  So here is my quick summary of the changes:

Corner judges are replaced by cameras.
Description: Basically, they will now have the two people that used to be corner judges watching a laptop or TV. The main purpose, as stated by the IJF, is to make judo work better on TV. Corner judges "do not add to the presentation," can block some camera angles, and – when they disagree – "appear incompetent." So the guys watching TV are only supposed to voice their opinion under "exceptional circumstances."  Okay. It appears that one side effect of this one was to introduce instant replay at international competitions. That's fine.
Additional Commentary: While fine for international tournaments, local tournaments shouldn’t use this. Locals unfortunately don't need to worry about TV coverage, and the new equipment seems like an unnecessary expense. Worse, local tournaments are used to train referees. Thus, if you want to have an accurately called contest, intervention will be needed much more frequently than just in “exceptional circumstances”.  The result is that you have much more frequent verbal communication with folks off of the mat and it gets to be a real mess.

Returning to the old-school definition of Ippon.
Description: Over time the interpretation of "Ippon" has gotten more and more liberal. The definition is always required throwing the opponent largely on the back with speed, force, and control. The interpretation, however, allowed for lesser and lesser throws to receive the Ippon award.  I once saw a guy land on his belly, where Tori didn’t even have a grip on him anymore, and have Ippon called against him.  So they’re correcting that. They did make an exception for something that they're calling a "Super Ippon": this is basically where one guy throws the Bejesus out of the other one but the thrown guy may land on his side instead of on his back.  If it's super fast, super hard and with super control, they will make an exception on the "largely on the back" rule.  I agree with my friend Rob that this is been misnamed, however; it should have been the super Waza Ari.
Additional Commentary: Love this guidance. That said, they certainly didn't use it this most recent tournament. I think it will take years of reeducation to get a true Ippon back to the local level. But I'm glad the IJF noticed.

If you land in the bridge position, you automatically lose.
Description: Just clarifying the earlier rule. The purpose is to discourage unsafe behaviors. Fine with me.

While you will still lose after receiving your fourth penalty, the earlier penalties award no points.
Description: The purpose of this one was to give less of an incentive for players to try to get their opponents penalized.  So in the old world where your second Shido gave your opponent a Yuko, now it gives him nothing. Neither does your second or third. Your fourth one, however, will still result in a Hansoku Make (disqualification). Penalties do, however, play a tie-breaking role. So if you reach the end of the match with a tied score, and one person has fewer penalties and the other, the person with fewer penalties wins. Accordingly, any penalty in “Golden Score” time results in a win for the other guy.

Two-handed grip breaks, leg-assisted grip breaks, and “striking-eque” grip breaks earn you a Shido.
Description: The idea here is to discourage defensiveness and facilitate offense. The grip breaks that they have made illegal are viewed, it seems, as purely defensive movements. 
Additional Commentary: I don't have as big a problem with grip fighting as some. I also think that there's an art to defense and an art to grip-fighting and I would hate to lose that.

You must attack almost immediately after cross-gripping, belt-grabbing, or same-side gripping , else get a Shido.
Description: Continuing with the theme of discouraging defense, they removed the buffer time that you could go without attack.
Additional Commentary: Same answer as above.

There is a shorter fuse for not engaging.
Description: If you avoid engaging your opponent, or you grip your opponent solely to keep them from gripping you, then you get a Shido.

No more warnings for bear hugs – now it’s an automatic Shido.
Description: I guess this one is to protect the "aesthetic" of judo competition. I don't like it though; it keeps people from learning how to avoid and how to defend the bear hug.

No touching below the belt (with arms or hands) ever.  Not in combinations, not in defense. Hansoku Make (instant DQ).
Description: A worsening of the worst Judo rule ever.  One of the comments on this rule by the IJF read “It is agreed and understood that a greater degree of time will be allowed in Ne Waza because of the loss of transition time from Tachi Waza to Ne Waza.”
Additional Commentary: I have a few other posts about how much I dislike this rule’s predecessor, and this one is even worse.  In addition to all of the reasons for disliking the old rule, a new reason to dislike it I is that it will require a massive reeducation of referees in order for a longer transition to Ne Waza to be allowed. So groundwork is further neutered at the local level.  Which means it will be taught less, which means it wither – which makes our Art less effective. The same goes for leg attacks (e.g., Kata Guruma, Morote Gari, many versions of Ko Uchi Makikomi). The thing that kills me is that none of the referees I've spoken to like the rule, none of the competitors like the rule. So why do the local tournaments keep using it?

Once Osaekomi is called,the guy on bottom can no longer escape by moving everybody out-of-bounds.
Description: The ref now has the discretion to call an Ippon for the other guy if bottom guy is just blatantly trying to pull the person out of bounds..
Additional Commentary: This is great. Fleeing isn't allowed on the feet, so it shouldn't be allowed on the ground, either.

Similarly, effective Kansetsu Waza and Shime Waza won’t be ended just because the contestants move out-of-bounds..

10 seconds gives you a Yuko, 15 seconds gets you Waza Ari, and 20 seconds get you an Ippon.
Additional Commentary: Ippon holds were 50% longer when I started Judo…   I guess 20 is as arbitrary as 30…

Everyone has to bow at the edge of the mat and to each other.
Description: Additionally, shaking or slapping hands is expressly discouraged, though there is no penalty for this.  It isn’t clear what will happen if someone doesn’t adequately bow… Will it be considered a forfeit?
Additional Commentary: My guess is that this is another case of the Frenchies trying to stick it to the Muslims (as some Muslims feel religiously prohibited from bowing). In my opinion, as long as respect of some sort is shown to the contest area and to the opponent, then the spirit of the bowing gesture is upheld.  That said, I have no problem with bowing.

Matches will no longer be decided by referees' choice (Hantei).  There is no time limit for the sudden death period – the “Golden Score.”

“Crushing” (essentially using your grip solely to prevent your opponent from attacking) can get you a penalty.
Description: “Defensive crushing” will get you a Shido. The intent of this rule is that you should try to win via good Judo rather than just try not to lose. They specify, however, that “positive” crushing is okay, and that the “crushee” can actually get a Shido.
Additional Commentary: The intent is fine.  The effect of this rule, however, is not as fine: people will not learn to deal effectively with attackers who try to drag or sling them around, so it weakens the effectiveness of Judo.  As for the effect of the positive crushing rule (that the “crushee” gets penalized), I guess that is to prevent people from flopping and killing time, or just to weakly enter groundwork.

Weigh-ins are to be at 7 PM the night before contest.
Description: This is an attempt to mitigate the harmful effects of cutting weight. They call this rule change an "experiment" during which time they will try to discern whether or not it's having its intended effect.
Additional Commentary: I totally agree with the objective of trying to negate the harmful effects of cutting weight. I'm not sure this is the best way to do it, however. It seems to me that this will allow more drastic weight cutting by giving a person greater time to recover before the contest. Calling this an experiment, however, is fair because I don't know that my answer is the right one. I hope we’ll see.
  


One final comment on all of these rules is that these are IJF rules for IJF-sanctioned tournaments. Local tournaments don't have to use them. There are many rules that I oppose philosophically, but I understand if local tournament directors don't share my opposition. Other rules, however, are simply unsuitable for local-level tournament with local-level referees.  Directors should apply a filter.

There are some good videos explaining some rules at this site.

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Randori vs. Shiai

It's kind of like the difference between learning to walk and being chased by a mean dog.


According to Dr. Kano, there are three tools for instruction or practice: Kata, Randori, and Shiai. At the highest level, here's what they mean:
Kata: practice of forms; predetermined movements
Randori: adversarial, free-moving practice
Shiai: competition, tournament (I've posted before about the value of competition.)

I'm not going to talk about Kata here (though it bears discussion), but I do want to talk about the difference between Shiai and Randori because they're sometimes confused.

Randori is practice. To "win" in Randori, you just need to learn something new or get better or help your partner learn. Thus, you can still win if you get thrown 30 times. The way you "lose" in Randori is that you don't do any of those things and/or you hurt yourself. You are generally not putting your heart and soul into putting your partners back on the mat. Given the principle of "Jita Kyoei” (mutual benefit), you are trying both to help yourself as well as help your partner. That doesn't mean that there's no struggle, but it does mean that if a 200 pound black belt is going against a 150 pound green belt, the 200 pounder shouldn't be making it as difficult for the green belt as he is capable. Maybe the 200 pounder will decide to focus more on foot sweeps, or he will give the green belt many looks at the same attack (even if that attack puts the green belt on his butt every time)…

Shiai, on the other hand, is a competition.  You “win” in competition by winning. You put the other guy on his back, you pin him, you make him tap, you get more points, or he gets disqualified (though I'm not a fan of people who try to get the other guy disqualified). If, for whatever reason, the 200 pounder in the 150 pounder mentioned above were in the same division, and they found themselves facing off against each other, the 200 pounder's job is to put the smaller man on his back with force and control. As I mentioned in the article I linked to above, both Randori and Shiai are about field testing your Judo. Shiai, though, is intended to be a more extreme environment, where the other guy is trying as hard as he can to put you on your back, and you’re seeing how your Judo works in that situation. Jita Kyoei still applies, but in this instance the benefit that you are providing your opponent is a sincere attack.

Randori has partners, Shiai has opponents.

One's first Shiai is often an eye-opening experience. You get hit. You get ground up. You get mauled. You get jostled like you've never been jostled before. It may not be beautiful judo, but that isn't to say that that's not what your opponent is supposed to be doing. You see, they're giving you the opportunity to test your judo against somebody who's mauling, hitting, and jostling you. That's a useful skill. Just be ready for it.

And if they're doing that in Randori, tell them to knock it off.


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I'm Back! And I Bring a New Syllabus!

I've gone a while due to a whole bunch of reasons (including another beautiful baby!), but now I'm back. And I have a new syllabus for Akari Judo!

It's been a while. Been a while since I've made a blog post, been a while since I've updated my syllabus. Well, that changes today. For the first time in three years and got an update to my syllabus and I think you guys will like it. Working with Leo Valdes and Jacob Powell. We synchronized and simplified our syllabi… Well, I simplified mine; theirs were already simple. I got rid of a bunch of stuff that I copied from USJA syllabus – things like moving skills, rollovers, and sweeps. It's not that I don't care about that stuff anymore, it's just that we're not going to be testing for it. Take a look and let me know what you think.