Randori (乱取り) is a term used in Japanese martial arts to describe free-style practice or sparring, usually with multiple attackers. The term literally means "chaos taking" or "grasping freedom," implying a freedom from the structured practice of kata. Randori may be contrasted with kata, as two potentially complementary types of training.
The exact meaning of randori depends on the martial art it is used in. In judo, jujitsu and Shodokan Aikido, among others, it most often refers to one-on-one sparring where partners attempt to resist and counter each other's techniques. In other styles of aikido, in particular Aikikai, it refers to a form of practice in which a designated aikidoka defends against multiple attackers in quick succession without knowing how they will attack or in what order. This form of randori is not the same as sparring, as the attackers are not allowed to strongly resist or attempt to counter the defender's techniques.
The term is used only by Aikikai dojo outside Japan. In Japan, this form of practice is called taninzu-gake (多人数掛け), which literally means multiple attackers.
In Tenshin Aikido
In Steven Seagal's Tenshin Aikido Federation (affiliated with the Aikikai), their randori is different from Aikikai. The attackers can do anything to the defender (e.g. Punch, Grab, Kick etc.)
In kendo, jigeiko means "friendly" free combat as in competition, but not counting the points.
Although in karate the word kumite is usually reserved for sparring, some schools also employ the term randori with regard to "mock-combat" in which both karateka move very fast, parrying and attempting acts of extreme violence with all four limbs (including knees, elbows, etc.) yet only ever making the slightest contact. Total control of the body is necessary and therefore only the senior grades can typically practice randori. In these schools, the distinction between randori and kumite is that in randori, the action is uninterrupted when a successful technique is applied.
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