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.



Christine Golden said...

Cool. I dig it.
"Randori has partners,
Shiai has opponents."

Nice quote.

kodokanjudo said...

I still dislike to call shiai antagonists "opponents". I like to think of them more as "resisting training partners" that are also trying to impose their skills upon us.