Randori, free exercise, is the main body of all martial arts training. In many dojos, randori is thought of as a free-for-all between two students. Nothing can be further from the truth. Randori takes many forms, such as standing randori or mat randori. Regardless of whether students are standing or are on the mat, they should be practicing various attacks and defenses. Through specific training routines each student can develop the fundamentals of body coordination and timing that are essential to the art. Physical and mental development is also possible.

In judo, most randori training starts with throwing techniques followed by mat techniques. This method allows students to learn the continuity from one skill to another, and the theories and technicalities associated with the skills.

The terms tori and uke are used, respectively, to identify the thrower and the person thrown. The following methods may be used for randori training:


  1. Tori drills continuously on the same technique to both the right and left sides. Uke changes intensity of co-working but remains passive through out the session.
  2. Tori continuously drills on two or more throws in combination, to both right and left sides.

Yakusoku geiko

  1. Both tori and uke move about freely. Tori executes one, two, or more skills repeatedly to both right and left sides. Uke avoids the techniques but without resistance. If the technique is "good" uke goes along with it.
  2. Techniques are executed with continuity to other skills. This should be done first with uke being in a static position and then with both in motion.

Kakari geiko

    Throwing techniques with continuity into the mat techniques are executed and practiced on both right and left sides, by both tori and uke.

Randori (general sense)

    With resistance, both participants apply various skills in throwing and mat techniques for a given length of time. The object is to still work together but with greater resistance than in the other forms of randori.

Tandoku rensiho

    Similar to uchi komi but with out a partner. In boxing this is called shadow fighting. It is a highly effective way to develop skill on your own. Tandoku rensiho can use training devices such as a punching bag or belt for throwing.

What does randori teach?

    Randori teaches economy of motion. Unnecessary moves would be punished. Randori may start at any rank level, where tori plays one-on-one. As skill progresses, randori becomes one against two, one against three, and eventually one against four.

Randori teaches distancing.

    Eventually the proper distance is judged instinctively. Judging distance properly enables tori to make a quick judgement to throw the attacker who poses the immediate danger. You will also come to judge where to throw the attacker to impede the progress of another.

Randori teaches proper timing.

    Randori teaches when or where to step, when to redirect throw, and when to counter with another technique.

Randori gives develops the feeling of ki (internal energy).

    Here tori can feel the opponent's energy, not only the power it can generate but most important, the direction in which it is going. By feeling the direction of attacker's ki, tori can help the attacker along. Tori does not fight the attacker's ki, but add his to the attacker. Hence tori's defense is faster.

Randori develops awareness of the attacker(s) location at any instant.

    The defender deals with the attacker closest to him. While it appears that he is fighting multiple attackers at once, he isolates and neutralizes the attacker that poses the most immediate danger.

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