Thursday, April 25, 2013

Randori Blues

For the record, I freaking HATE randori. Whenever it's announced in class, my palms start sweating, my mouth gets dry and I sneak a quick glance at the clock to see just how long this torture could possibly go on. I detest it so much that if it were a choice between eating beets (the absolute nastiest food on the planet, IMHO) and stepping on the mat as the randori nage, I'd gobble down those beets, flash a peace sign and call it a day.

Why do things that work so well in my head look like a tangled heap of crap when I give it a go? Why do I think so much when it's my turn? Why is writing about it now even making my heart race?

Sure, the athlete in me knows that because I hate it so much, it is probably the weakest part of my karate repertoire, which means I should be working on it much more than I do. But that OMG - here it comes ---> rapid breathing ---> butterflies in my belly ---> adrenaline dump thing that happens in the few moments between the "OK - let's do some random attacks next!" declaration and the "You're up!" nod is just too exhausting.

Here's the problem: the mandate given is that the technique isn't over until the uke is ON THE GROUND. Since I really can't clothesline or give the uke a haito to the temple, the only options are sweeps, reaps and techniques involving unbalancing to put him/her down - and that is only after whatever technique is called for (a punch to the face or empi to the floating rib for example) is complete. What I constantly hear is: you might not want to try that on him/her because of the weight/height difference. But that's what you called! So I pause mid-way - the equivalent of a verbal stammer - and the technique bumps and bounces to the finish line. I end up feeling quite stupid - over and over again.

The solution? Go back to the two-person techniques I polished in prep for my nidan test and do them over and over again. The problem with that is that most of my training - outside of class each week - is usually done solo in the comfort of my roomy kitchen. And while my imaginary uke falls so fluidly each time, my real flesh and bones ones in the dojo don't. Yes, it's frustrating as hell.

To top off the frustration even more, one of my techniques ended up making the group tangent into a discussion on the legality of continuing with a defense when your adversary has walked away. There were no answers, just lots of opinions that had us go around and around. Seems that the law also agrees with the idea that the attacked person can become the attacker if/when he continues to pummel after the threat has backed off. Unfortunately, no one in the class did. Sigh...

Let's hear it for another frustrating night of training!


  1. Wow...this is life! Only you wrote it first...and better!

    Thank you...always nice to know I'm not the 'only one'. :(

  2. It definitely sounds like you just need more randori. If it makes you feel any better, I've never been fond of kumite (karate) or randori (judo), myself, but I've made myself work at it. Now, I don't hate it anymore. That said, it's never going to be pretty--any time you "go live" with your training, it gets much uglier :P

  3. So very true! I think many people will relate to this post!

  4. hey! you been watching me in Aikido class? i hate randori, too!!!! practice, practice, practice and more practice... i'll learn to love it.. lol.

    And actually, it's making more sense to me now, as I get comfortable with it. a blog entry is coming.. be on the lookout.. :)

  5. A lot of people definitely can relate to this. :) I feel the same way about/before/during kumite. My sensei said to me on this: "We can't get rid of the butterflies but we can make them fly in formation." That remains to be achieved but if he says so - it's probably doable - yes, even for me. :)

  6. I'm feeling your pain! However, you are lucky that you get to do a lot of randori training, we don't and I wished we did. Occasionally my husband and I have a go at home and we are found wanting! It's only through practice that you'll get better at it. I wish I had more opportunity to practice it....

  7. I hope I dont come off as trying to sound big and tough, but I really enjoy randori. Honestly, we do so much kihon and kata that when we get paired up for free style sparring I'm first to grab my mouthguard.