RANDORI is a term used in the Japanese Martial Arts (JMA) to describe free fighting training. The term literally means “Choas Taking” or “Grasping Freedom,” implying a freedom from the structured practice of KIHON WAZA “Essential Techniques” or KATA “Two person self defense patterns.” Randori may be contrasted with Kihon Waza and Kata, as three potentially complementary types of training.
In my approach to teaching Taijutsu, Randori refers to free fighting where partners attempt to resist and counter each other’s techniques. It can be against a single attacker or against multiple attackers in quick succession without knowing how they will attack or in what order. It also includes the use of and defense against all four ranges of unarmed combat; kicking, punching, clinching and ground fighting as well as the use of and defense against the five protection tool categories; impact, edged, flexible, projectiles and combinations of those.
Jigoro Kano (1860–1938), founder of Kodokan Judo took the Kihon Waza and KORYU KATA “Old School Patterns” of Tenjin Shinyo Ryu Jujutsu, Kito Ryu Jujutsu as well as Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu and put them in the blender that is Randori. Kano Sensei most likely modeled this Randori training method from Fukuda Hachinosuke, a bonesetter who taught Tenjin Shinyo Ryu in a room adjacent to his practice.
Fukuda’s training method consisted mostly of the student taking fall after fall for the teacher or senior student until he began to understand the mechanics of the technique. Fukuda stressed applied technique over ritual form. He gave beginners a short description of the technique and then had them engage in free practice (Randori) in order to teach through experience. It was only after the student had attained some proficiency that he taught them traditional patterns (Koryu Kata).
BOGU KUMITE is a form of armored training used in various schools of Okinawan Karate Do. The origin of this unique training approach is credited to Shigeru Nakamura (b.1894). Bogu Kumite is a rough, full contact training method in which the participants are discouraged from using feints and jabs and are expected to throw full-power blows. Rules vary between practitioners, but a generally accepted norm is to only count strikes that would incapacitate the opponent, had they not been wearing the gear. Hits must land on the gear and on the steel cage of the mask. This training method is employed by Isshin Ryu, Shorin Ryu, Shorinji Ryu as well as other systems of Karate Do.
I’ve combined the concepts of Judo Randori with that of Karate Bogu Kumite to make my Taijutsu both alive and functional. I find that this approach restores the “martial” back into my Martial Arts.