At my judo club randori is usually 30-45mins at the end of the session. Some nights we just have randori for an hour and a half. The randori itself usually consists of 5min bouts with no break in between, everyone in the club gives maximum effort, there are no weight classes and most are exhausted after about the third partner change. Is this a good way to practice? I feel that the standard of judo just drops as soon as everyone gets tired and don't believe this is the best way to practice.

If you take a look at BJJ training for example, rolling is never really 100%. In fact it is encouraged not to go 100% so that you can get more out of the practice trying many different positions and techniques each practice until it all becomes muscle memory, rather that just getting stuck in someones full guard for 5mins. I believe judo could benefit with this approach to training for example have randori session were you just go with any attempt at a throw to help your partner work out when it is best to come in for a throw and to help them with their technique. Two people going hammer and tongs at each other for 5mins with terrible technique will not make a good judo player in my opinion.


6 Answers 6


In nearly every other competitive sport, it is understood that you only improve by drilling specific basic skills in mostly noncompetitive, skill building scenarios.

For example, Football, Basketball and Tennis players focus on scenarios and drills which develop their feel, their body awareness, timing and proper form. They do not merely practice hard against tough players every day. If they did, they would never develop new skills. And the rough exhausting practices would lead to tons of injuries and sloppy skills. Instead, world class athletes drill to improve their basics. They know that learning and improvement only come from exploring and drilling in ways that fix and develop the weak areas in their technique. Practice means learning, not competing. Hard competitive practice in Judo goes against everything we have learned in the last hundred years about developing skill. The better BJJ schools know this and practice using less effort and fewer techniques. The way Judo Randori is practiced shows that the players and coaches know very little about how to improve quickly, safely and effectively. There are many large improvements that could easily be made to Judo practice once players understand how learning happens. For example, the setup is never practiced in Uchi-Komi and hardly ever used effectively in Randori, yet it is the MOST important part of every technique. Learning to overcome stiff arming is almost never taught or practiced yet players at all levels waste most of their match struggling and failing to deal with it effectively. Randori is supposed to be a learning situation, not a simulation of the roughness found in tournament fighting. Like wrestling, it should be based on common situations and how to win using specific setups that cause specific reactions.


Randori of six to nine or more 5-minute rounds without a break sounds just about perfect. One can't get in solid judo shape without hard training like that.

Degradation of technique should be examined as its own problem. Are students in poor shape? Are they not training frequently enough to get in good shape? Are students playing too competitively, and so excessively spending energy in early rounds? Or are only some students merely slowing down a bit towards the end, as is natural and not too problematic?

No weight classes is absolutely necessary and correct. Judoka should be able to train with everybody.

The part about "maximum effort" could be an issue. A dojo needs hard randori, but it needs loose randori too. Drills such as "throw for throw" are useful. So is what I've heard called "French randori", where each partner plays hard on attack, but attempts no defensive techniques other than footwork. If randori is like shiai in every workout, you're either already at the elite level and preparing for a major tournament or something is wrong. Judo practice should involve somewhat cooperative training sometimes.

Hard, almost-shiai-style randori is necessary, too. If randori is playful and cooperative all the time, you risk "dulling the sword" of your techniques. You need to practice against people going lightly and cooperatively to try new things you're not sure of, but you also need to practice with partners resisting hard in order to sharpen your waza into something that will work in shiai or in violent application.

One method that helped me turn down the intensity of my randori was to make sure I took ukemi for three throws with each partner before attempting my own throw. This can set a playful mood that encourages more back-and-forth rather than escalation towards shiai intensity.


In Canada, when you take the elite class at the national team ( the club is called Shidokan and regroup the people who are training for the Olympics, or trying to get there), the WHOLE CLASS was 5 minutes randori. 5 nights a week. 2 hours a day.

The coach was sitting in middle of the class, watching, sometimes giving hints or bits of advice.

you had a 30 seconds break in between to go drink water, and you could sit out once in a while if you were too tired ... but you couldn't refuse a fight, if you want to win the respect of the team's member, just give your 100%. Fighting pass exhaustion is a good way to push further and ask your body to give more ...

and I think this is even more important now, considering international competitions now go in "overtime", so you can see 7 or 8 minutes fight.

When I started over there, I was 15, and not strong enough to fight vs man, so I was doing randori against older person who where training once in a while with the team, or against woman, since physical strengh was less different between us.

I was sooo in shape compare to the other kids my age, and beating them easily, that they started to realize I was training much harder than they did, and started to show up at the club too.


What you describe does sound like a good way (although not the only way) to train for randori.

The standard of judo done drops because you are all unfit for the standard you want to practice at.

I would strongly suggest that some night when you are not training in judo you meet up and did some endurance training like the "black test"1. If you have some nice walks, you could go for a walk (the harder, the better). You should look at what you eat as well. Do not be silly and follow a fad: just eat a healthy diet.

Trailing while exhausted will not improve your technique, it does force you to practice what you know well under stress. This is no bad thing.

That there are no weight classes is both good and bad. Good because it forces you to fight with opponents that you would not normally fight in competition. This teaches you how to apply things to bigger and smaller opponents. It is bad iff2 you are focused on winning competitions as it takes away time training for a specific purpose.

Finally, do breath. Sounds silly but I have seen it so many times: you get engaged and hold your breath… Very silly.

1: Black test is 3km running on flat, 2km rowing at full resistance, and 2.5 km cycling at 2/3 resistance. No break between activities and it has to be done in less than 28 minutes. It has two advantages. First, it is quick to do: from getting to the gym to out, less than an hour with shower so you can do it in your lunchtime every (other) day of the week. Second, it will get you fit in extra fast time. Clearly, do not over do it: you need resting time.

2: if and only if.


There is no inherent problem with long, hard randori sessions. If you want to compete at a high level in judo, there is no substitute. That said, the wrong approach to randori will inhibit your development.

Shiai and randori are separate activities with different objectives. It's important both to recognize this and train accordingly.

  1. Shiai (試合, a game or match): The objective is to win matches. You attack with your best techniques and get business done quickly.
  2. Randori (乱取り, free practice): The objective of free practice is mutual development. You should choose to emphasize elements of your judo that are appropriate to your current partner. For partners that are better, this is often your favorite technique. For other partners, your emphasis could be elements such as off-hand attacks, different gripping, secondary throws, counters, foot sweeps, etc. One variety of randori I advocate for less experienced players is to replace defensive stiff-arms and hip checks with more aggressive footwork and countering; this results in more throws and less stalemate in the short term and develops faster countering reactions over time.

If you treat every randori session like shiai, you may never develop all of the elements you need to compete at high levels.

Judo Formal Techniques by Tadao Otaki and Donn Draeger has suggestions about the proper relation of kata, randori, and shiai.

  • Shiai (試合) means a game/match. Kyōsō (競争) means competition. Those two are very different beasts. Randori (乱取り?) describes free style practice those meaning varies between arts. Sep 1, 2016 at 6:56

Yes Randoris are a good practice as described in previous answers. I appologize for being french, so I'm probably not objective enough about this subject.

Nevetheless I'm 50 and young judokas (half my age) are sometimes stronger and faster than me. But I keep training this way thanks to deep judo. Never forget judo enable the weak to cop with the strong.

If you must have a randori with someone realy stronger than you are or if you are out of order, accept the shiai and let him make his fight, let the huricane blow and improve your ukemis, your breath, your shifting. That's what -60Kg do when they fight with +100Kg. And it's perhaps the reason why light-weight have a better technicity than heavy-weight.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.