If you’re a martial artist, you likely have heard of randori at some point or another. However, the practice of randori can mean something different depending on the type of martial arts you practice.

Randori is a style of practice in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu where two people spar without following any rigid guidelines or predetermined moves. Randori is an excellent opportunity to implement previously learned skills and techniques.

This article will discuss the importance of randori in martial arts. Read on to learn about the purpose of the randori practice within BJJ and judo.

Randori in BJJ and Judo

In BJJ and judo, randori works as a way for students to put their previously learned skills into practice. Randori typically involves two opponents of similar skill levels freestyle sparring with one another. 

In the case of BJJ and judo, randori is more about mastery of specific skills than beating an opponent. When participating in randori, most students focus less on achieving a victory and more on their growth as martial artists. Rather, they should put their mind on their execution and their behavior, whether they win or lose. 

The Purpose of Randori Is To Improve Technique

Upon introduction to randori, students may view the practice as an opportunity to prove their skill or dominate their opponent. However, it’s actually an incredibly valuable opportunity to improve skills and refine techniques. Randori improves students’ technique in a variety of ways:

  • It incorporates a wide variety of moves and skills.
  • It presents a dynamic sparring environment.
  • Its quick pace encourages participants to think on their feet.

These aspects of randori practice make it an irreplaceable component of learning BJJ and Judo.

Randori Incorporates a Wide Variety of Moves and Skills

While participating in randori, both students have the opportunity to work with their repertoire of martial arts skills. In response to their sparring partner, participants select the moves that they feel will be most effective at that moment. As a result, randori opens the door to practicing a wide variety of skills and encourages students to experiment as they learn. It’s a space of freedom when compared to drills and katas.

A Dynamic Sparring Environment Is Vital To Randori

Randori’s dynamic nature is part of what makes it such an appealing learning tool for learning BJJ and judo. When you spar with a partner, you have a limited amount of time to prepare yourself for the moves to come. You may not be able to predict your partner’s decisions, so you’ll have to react quickly according to the moves they make. 

Your randori partners may also change over multiple sessions, which means you will have to adapt to their unique skill sets. Doing so promotes a more well-rounded skill set of your own.

Randori’s Pace Encourages Participants To Think Quickly

Randori’s dynamic nature means that you may not be able to prepare your moves ahead of time. This encourages you to exercise your ability to implement techniques quickly.

Randori is a great way to solidify mental and physical techniques. Learning to think on your feet and honing your defensive instincts will help you grow as a martial artist.

Is Randori Different in BJJ and Judo?

Randori is essentially the same practice in BJJ and Judo, although randori is sometimes referred to as “rolling” in BJJ. Randori’s primary difference between the two forms of martial arts is the moves implemented.

The moves featured in the randori practice often differ between BJJ and Judo. Because the two martial arts styles differ fundamentally, so will the randori experience within them.

BJJ Randori Focuses on Holds and Submissions

BJJ’s version of randori, also known as “rolling,” focuses on holds and techniques that result in submissions. In other words, BJJ relies on your ability to control your opponent’s movement. 

With this in mind, BJJ focuses heavily on groundwork. The techniques used to put one’s opponent into a hold often occur while both people sparring are on the ground.

Judo Randori Has a More Aggressive in Style

On the other hand, judo is generally considered a more aggressive martial arts style than BJJ. Judo practice focuses on takedowns, which quite literally means “taking down” your opponent. 

Sparring in judo concentrates on throwing moves, through which you aim to throw your opponent off balance. Unlike BJJ, groundwork is not a particular priority on sport; much of judo sparring happens while opponents are upright.

Is Randori Open-Mat?

Randori can be open-mat time or happen during regular instruction time. Martial artists use open-mat time to practice while not under formal instruction.

As you might imagine, randori is a common way for students to spend open-mat time. However, randori is not the only component of open-mat practice. Time spent during open-mat can include randori, sparring, drilling, and other exercises.

Is Randori the Best Way To Learn BJJ or Judo?

Randori is not the best way to learn BJJ or Judo. Although it can be a beneficial learning tool, randori is insufficient for thoroughly learning either style of martial arts.

Learning and refining technical skills requires practice outside of randori. Working on specific drills is extremely helpful in establishing proper techniques. Additionally, kata is considered a vital aspect of judo for the same reasons. Performing prearranged exercises refines particular skills and improves overall technique.

Randori is a beneficial practice tool. Many programs incorporate as much as 50-60% of practice time solely to randori. However, supplement randori with other forms of practice like drills and kata to see the most progress in your skill level.

Final Thoughts

In short, randori is a vital tool for mastering new BJJ and judo skills. Through its dynamic practice environment, quick pace, and incorporation of a variety of moves, randori is helpful to any martial artist looking to put their skills into practice. For the best results, pair randori with other martial arts practices regularly. 

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