Periodisation of randori types

Paper 1/5 in the series Ideas for the Youth Judo Coach


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March 2002


1. What is randori?

2. Periodisation

3. Forms of Randori phase I

3.1 ‘Classic’ randori’s

3.2 Playful randori’s

3.3 Preparatory kumi kata randori’s

4. Forms of Randori phase II

4.1 Score randori’s

4.2 Situation randori’s – technical

4.3 Kumi kata randori’s

5. Forms of Randori phase III

5.1 Situation randori’s – tactical

5.2 Kumi kata randori

5.3 Contest randori’s

1. What is randori?

Many judoka’s are spending hours practising randori …. but do not learn a lot. Fighting with instructions on periodising can significantly increase (with more judo pleasure and better competition results) the benefits of randori training.

This article first gives a general viewpoint of randori. Then follows an item on randori and periodising. Then finally I propose per phase of the period of competition preparation a number of types of randori. Every randori is described and its purpose is discussed. Where necessary I also give examples.

A classic tachi waza training fight lasts a certain time with the only purposes of throwing each other with a technique of own choice and not to fall. Such a traditional randori is an “open” form of exercise with a competitive element and where different solutions are possible. These “open” forms of training stand opposite “closed” forms of training such as sotai renshyu, tandoku renshyu, uchi komi and nage komi.

For the modern training a “half open” knowledge of randori is more effective. By giving an instruction and limiting a situation, the solutions are restricted and technical-tactical targets can be pursued. (By this half open description kakari-geiko becomes a type of randori) The “half open” limitation of randori allows to better prepare young judoka’s for competitions by periodising.

With all the types of randori presented in this article the judoka’s must wear a gi, they must use judo technique and no accessories are used. This distinguishes the randori’s from preparation exercises or types of games. Moreover they still remain training fights, even if they approach the competition situation. The main goal is to learn, to test, to complete and to practice.

2. Periodisation

Periodising was originally a method of planning for the training process whereby the year plan is divided in successive periods each with its own way of training. Periodising can be described within the judo context as a division of content and weight of types of training, casu quo of randori, over different phases of a period of preparation to perform maximally during a competition. Many coaches are using the term “peak”.

For the under 14 real “peaking” should not be used as such. They are training in the first place for the future and not for the next competition. Although it is also for them – for the sake of keeping it pleasant and interesting – important to vary the types of randori. From the junior level onwards a yearly plan is set out with one or two peaks.

Peaking must be done on three levels: technical-tactical (gi), physical (tai) and mental (shin). The three sections of course get attention separately in the various phases but they can also be part of the randori form of training. The periodising of the randori training permits to integrate the three aspects in training.

I personally mostly chose the division in three phases of a training preparation period. Figure 1 indicates the points of departure when periodising the randori training.






From general to individual tasks

From single to complex tasks

From technique to tactic


From low intensity and long duration to high intensity and competition official time

From aerobic to non-aerobic stamina


From playing phase to constructed phase

From freestyle to under pressure

From allowed to fall to not allowed to fall

Fig. 1 Points of departure when periodising randori

After phase III comes the period of relative rest. On the level of the types of randoris this period goes back to phase I. It is advisable to make the transitions between phases as smooth as possible and in the one phase to maintain the previous and to prepare the next. This means that you reserve in phase II half of the amount of randori’s for phase II and half the amount of randori’s for on the one hand phase I types (maintenance) and on the other hand phase III types (preparation). In phase III you reserve half the amount of randori’s for phase III types and half for phase I and phase II types (maintenance).

3. Forms of randori phase I

Points of departure: general tasks, low intensity, long duration, in majority aerobic, playful, under no obligations, falling is allowed.

3.1. ‘Classic’ randori’s – tachi waza (TW) and ne waza (NW)

Discussion: The classical randori is for phase I the most important type. These form of randori can be used for the build up of aerobic stamina. For example week I 4×4′ randori, week II 4×5′ randori, week III 4×6′ randori, week IV 4×7′ randori.

Description: The judoka’s can use, without specific instructions, during a certain time any techniques to score.

3.2 Playful randori’s

Description: To ignore the normal randori conventions, the ‘silly’ instructions and fighting with more than two judoka’s at the same time has got a calming effect on the judoka’s.

3.2.1 Toe randori (NW)

Description: Two judoka’s start from a kneeling position opposite each other. They can make a score by pinching the big toe of the opponent.

Purpose: The judoka’s are training in a non-conventional manner of control such as the control of uke’s legs.

3.2.2 Trio-randori (NW)

Description: Three judoka’s are sitting in a kneeling position opposite each other and start the randori. The judoka who is on his back with at least one other judoka above him is on the winning side.

Purpose: The judoka’s are training in a non-conventional manner of control such as the control of the partner while lying on his back.

3.2.3 Top or under-randori (NW)

Description: Two judoka’s are starting the randori. On the coach’s instruction the judoka’s are trying to take the top or under position.

Purpose: The judoka’s are training in a non-conventional manner of control.

3.2.4 Sit up randori (NW)

Description: Both judoka’s are lying on their backs next to each other in the opposite direction. After hajime they must execute as soon as possible 10 sit ups. The one that finished first, can attack his partner.

Purpose: The inclusion of an extra competitive element give the exercise a certain amount of stress and prepares for phase II.

3.2.5 Blind randori (TW and NW)

Description: One of the two judoka’s is closing his eyes during randori. The judoka with open eyes is checking the border of the mat and the distance between the other pairs of judoka’s.

Purpose: The judoka’s are developing a better timing by training “on feeling”.

3.2.6 Greeting ceremony randori (TW)

Description: Two groups of judoka’s are facing each other in two rows 4m from each other. They execute the greeting ceremony before and after the randori and then they move through for the next randori.

Purpose: The judoka’s are automating the greeting ceremony.

3.3. Preparatory kumi kata randori’s (TW)

Description: Before youngsters can be trained to break off the kumi kata under the form of kumi kata-randori they must train to use the whole body to break off any unlikeable kumi kata.

3.3.1 Strip randori

Description: Both judoka’s are trying to pull out each others judo vest.

Purpose: The judoka’s are thought here to use their whole body and not only their arms, when fighting kumi-kata.

3.3.2 Hucking randori

Description: One of the two judoka’s hooks his partner arms in the front and closes his partner’s hands against his partners’s body without taking his own hands at the back of his partner or without taking his partners’ judogi. The locked judoka tries to free himself.

Purpose: The judoka’s are training in the use of the complete body when fighting kumi kata.

4. Forms of randori phase II

Points of departure: more individual, more complex, technical instructions, higher intensity, more pressure to score.

4.1 Score randori’s (TW and NW)

Discussion: The coach pushes up the pressure. The judoka’s are not allowed to fight passively, but must try every time to get a quick score.

4.1.1 Bell randori

Description: As soon as one of both judoka’s is scoring (at least a koka in TW; armlock, strangulation or 5” hold in NW) he runs to the bell placed along the border of the mat and rings the bell. Then he sprints back to score again as quickly as possible.

Purpose: By ringing the bell everybody can hear who scores and when. This motivates the judoka’s to try and get a quick result and also puts pressure to score quickly and often.

4.1.2 Handclap randori

Description: As soon as one of both judoka’s scores (at least a koka in TW; armlock, strangulation or 5” hold in NW) he runs towards the coach along the border of the mat and claps the coach’s hand. Then he sprints back to score again as quickly as possible.

Purpose: Just like with the ringing of the bell, the judoka’s are stimulated to score a lot. The pressure gets higher because the coach can control who is scoring what

4.1.3 Classic koka randori

Description: Two judoka’s are starting to randori. The first judoka that falls, stops and is replaced immediately by the next judoka.

Purpose: The judoka’s are trying to randori non stop as long as possible. The continuous changes of partners make the effort intensive.

4.1.4 Koka randori threesome

Description: Homogeneous groups of three are formed. Two judoka’s start the randori. The first one that scores stops and gets replaced by the third judoka.

Purpose: In contrast to the classic koka randori the scorer gets rewarded. He can stop fighting. This form approaches the competition situation better and stimulates efficient attacking judo. (Please note that the trio’s must be homogeneous regarding weight, and technical level).

4.1.5 Threesome randori

Description: Homogeneous groups of three are formed. Each randori lasts 1′. Judoka A starts to randori with judoka B. After 1’judoka A stops and judoka B continues with judoka C. Etc…

Purpose: Due to the character of the interval of this randori a transition can be made from a mainly aerobic effort such as in the forms of randori from phase I to an anaerobic effort such as in some forms of randori from phase III. This type of randori can go on non stop for 6′, 9′ 12’….

4.1.6 Kakari geiko (TW)

Description: A judoka attacks, the other defends.

Purpose: Kakari geiko is ideal to learn to be decisive and to be mentally strong whilst preparing for a competition. To strive to throw an uke who only defends takes guts. The positive results build up confidence.

4.2 Situation randori’s – technical (TW and NW)

Discussion: The randori’s are focusing on the training of (personal) techniques.

4.2.1 Randori momentum

Description: Each judo chain is rounded off with a short randori (5′ to 15′).

Purpose: Tori learns through the randori momentum to guide his partner towards the mat and to take control straight away. Uke trains to react immediately when falling or by defending himself in ne waza.

Example: Imagine that two judoka’s are studying the following judo chain: judoka A takes kumi kata, moves backwards and attacks with harai goshi; judoka B takes over with tani otoshi. Now follows the randori-momentum: judoka B tries to take control immediately after his throw with a hold. Judoka A must when landing on the mat turn as quickly as possible. Both judoka’s are therefore fighting a short randori ne waza.

4.2.2 Instructions randori

Description: One of both judoka’s or both judoka’s are getting a technical instruction that they must execute during randori. These instructions might be known to the partner or not.

Purpose: The judoka’s are training their (personal) techniques and are testing these in a real fighting situation.


·One of both judoka’s gets the instruction to attack only on the left.

·One of both judoka’s gets the instruction to precede each attack by a foot sweep.

·Judoka A gets the instruction to attack as much as possible with o uchi gari, while judoka B, without Judoka A’s knowledge, gets the instruction to take over all the o uchi gari’s.

4.2.3 Takeover kakari geiko (TW)

Description: Judoka A tries to throw. Judoka B cannot attack straight away, but he can however take over.

Purpose: Tori is exercising his attacks without being sloppy in his movements and position (this is however possible in the classic kakari geiko). Uke trains by using the mistakes made by tori to take over the attack.

4.2.4 Position randori (NW)

Description: At hajime the judoka’s are in a certain ne waza position taken from the general or own technical complex. (iv)

Purpose: The judoka’s are exercising the techniques that are necessary to score from a certain position.


·Uke sits in a bench position.

·The leg of tori is controlled by uke (in a lying position)

·Tori controls uke in a juji gatame position but uke’s arms are still entangled.

4.2.5 Randori tachi waza going over to ne waza

Description: The judoka’s are starting from a standing position, but follow in ne waza (during 18′). After a score in ne waza or after 18′ they restart with tachi waza.

Purpose: The judoka’s are developing automatic movements to make a connection between tachi waza judo and ground work.

4.2.6 Dropping randori

Description: The judokas’s find themselves on 1m² mat. Judoka A is on his back. Judoka B is standing and may not leave the mat. Judoka A tries to drop judoka B.

Purpose: Judoka a trains to prevent judoka B to escape the groundwork by standing up or by not to engage in the ground work. Judoka B trains in avoiding the ground work.

4.2.7 Non fall randori

Description: See my article Non fall training.

Purpose: The judoka’s are training on the one hand to send the partner to the mat and on the other hand not to fall on the back whilst being thrown.

4.2.8 Technique kakari geiko

Description: A judoka can only attack with a certain technique or with a limited group of techniques. The other judoka defends.

Purpose: The judoka’s are training to defend themselves against a specific technique or against a group of techniques.

4.3. Kumi kata randori’s (TW)

4.3.1 Illegal kumi kata randori

Description: A ‘valid’ KK exists according to the competition rules of taking with the left hand any right part of the partner’s judo vest and with the right hand any left part of the judo vest above the belt. The high take on the collar of the adversary is considered ‘legal’ even if the hand holds an opposite side of the jacket, as named with a “valid” hold, on condition that one takes care that this hand passes at the backside of the head of the adversary. All other kumikata are “illegal and are therefore penalised if the judokas does not immediately follows the kumi kata with an attack.

With the illegal kumi kata randori one or both judokas must fight a prescribed illegal kumi kata. (See my article Kumi kata training)

Purpose: The judoka’s are learning to defend against an illegal kumi kata and discover the possibilities of the kumi kata’s.


·A judoka takes with one hand the collar of the partner and with the other hand he grabs the pants on knee height.

·A judoka takes one hand on the sleeve of the partner and with the other hand over the partner’s shoulder he grabs the partner’s belt.

·A judoka takes the collar and sleeve of the partner on the same side.

4.3.2. Breaking off randori

Description: Judoka A takes a kumi kata that obstructs judoka B (differs individually). Judoka B must first break off the kumi kata of judoka A, and then he must use his tokui waza kumi kata and attack.

Purpose: Judoka’s learn never to fall for an undesirable kumi kata and to go on the attack when they can go over to use their own kumi kata.

5. Forms of randori phase III

Points of departure: tactical instructions, high intensity, length of competition, anaerobic effort, high stress.

5.1. Situation randori’s – tactical

Discussion: The randori’s focus on the exercising of (personal) techniques in a tactical situation.

5.1.1 Red board randori (NW)

Description: The judoka’s are only fighting on the red part of the mat.

Purpose: The judoka’s are learning to keep contact with the red board when using a hold and to move outside the red board to break a hold.

5.1.2 One mat randori (NW)

Description: The “competition mat” is restricted to one tatami that is considered to be the red board.

Purpose: The judoka’s train to keep contact with the red zone when holding and to move outside to break a hold.

5.1.3 Matte randori (TW)

Description: The coach interrupts the randori with matte (judoka’s go to their starting position) and hajime (judoka’s restart) every 20”.

Purpose: Judoka’s train every time in taking kumi kata and preparing for an attack.

5.1.4 Sonomama randori (NW)

Description: The coach interrupts the randori with sonomama and yoshi.

Purpose: The judoka’s are training in a competition situation to learn to sit still without losing control.

5.1.5 First score randori (golden score randori) (TW)

Description:The judoka’s are trying to score first in a short randori (30′). The one that scores defends without getting a penalty point.

Purpose: Judoka’s are training to score first. Advantage in a competition means in effect a comfortable point of departure. This form of randori is also an excellent exercise in the golden score rule.

5.1.6 Last 20′ seconds randori

Description: One of the two judoka’s has an advantage of one yuko. Both judoka’s imagine themselves that the fight is still on for 20”.

Purpose: The judoka’s learn how to defend an advantage or to wipe a deficit by using tactical considerations.

5.1.7 Mini randori (TW and NW)

Description: The judoka’s are fighting on a small fighting zone of 9 m² (1 m² green mat in the centre and 8m² red mats around). All rules in connection with fighting on the red board and stepping out do apply.

Purpose: The judoka’s learn to keep into account the rules of the contest in connection with stepping out and fighting on the red zone and they are training into applying the tactical considerations for these situations.

5.1.8 Acceleration randori

Description: The judoka’s get the instruction to include accelerations during randori. An acceleration is a moment whereby different attacks are followed fast one after the other.

Purpose: The judoka’s learn to phase in their fights (the succession of moments of attack and defences). In a contest you cannot maintain the same level all the time.

5.1.9 Coach randori

Description: The coach interrupts the randori at regular interval with matte and gives the judoka’s an instruction by means of judo signs. (See my article Coach signs)

Purpose: The judoka practices in communicating with the coach.

5.2 Kumi kata randori

Description: The judoka’s are trying to break the kumi kata of their partner and at te same time to enforce their own kumi kata.

Purpose: To acquire the attitude never to suffer under an undesirable kumi kata.

5.3. Contest randori’s

Discussion: The literature offers a few articles about the time structure of contests. The data from this sort of research can be used by coaches for the compiling of interval training, but also for the compiling of randori.

5.3.1 Shiai randori (TW and NW)

Description: During randori trainings on a regional or national level or during training camps the judoka choses a few (3) randori’s per training session which he fights as if it was a contest with the only target to “win” the randori.

Purpose: The judoka is testing whether his techniques are working.

5.3.2 18′ randori (NW)

Description: A group of judoka’s are kneeling down and grouped in two rows facing each other. They are doing short randori’s of 18′ where they really are trying to score and then they move on.

Purpose: The judoka’s train in scoring in a short period of 18′, the average length of a ne-waza part in a contest. The judoka’s must attack continuously without interrupting their movements (after that follows matte).

5.3.3 Super randori


·In the super randori can come together all the knowledge and the skills trained in drills and in the forms of randori during the various phases of the period of preparation.

·The super randori consists of 12 fighting sessions of 20′ each, interrupted by a matte of 8′. The super randori lasts in total 5’28’.

·A super randori requires preparation and a strict organisation. To facilitate giving instructions, one of the two judoka’s wears a blue judogi or a red belt. The judoka’s go through the greeting ceremony as in competitions and wait at their place during matte. Both judoka’s are trying to score every 20′, i.e to execute the instruction as quick as possible. The instructions complement the trained techniques and the tactical situations from the whole preparation period.

·One can incorporate a super randori at the end of a training session or one can build a whole randori training around the super randori’s. In the last case one copies the structure of a contest day with five contest (total time approximately 105′): 20′ personal competition warm up, super randori 1, 15′ stretching or technique study, super randori 2, 10′ stretching or technique study, super randori 3, 5′ stretching, super randori 4, 15′ stretching or technique study, super randori 5, 10′ cooling down. Super randori 1, 2 and 4 are real super randori’s with each 20′ another instruction. In super randori 3 and 5 each fighting session of 20′ is a normal randori (TW or NW) who must be “won”.

·To make the super randori harder you can take for one tori two uke’s who are relaying each other every 20′. To increase the pressure a third judoka can be the referee to keep the scores of the sessions won.

·Please note! The super randori is an “overloaded” training. The workload is heavier that in a real contest. To avoid negative thoughts in the heads of the judoka’s they must be aware of this.


·To approach the contest situation as near as possible concerning the structure and type of physical effort.

·Exercising in the use of matte for communication with the coach, for the drawing up and adapting of the fighting plan and for the recuperation.

·Exercising in the interchanging between the thinking (drawing up of an action plan) of judo during matte and the fighting “on automatic pilot” during hajime.

·Exercising in decisiveness and willing and striving, the will to win.

·To remain focussed even if muscles are soured.

·To train for the anaerobic stamina (certainly for tori if two fresh uke’s are used).


(If in TW an instruction is executed, the two judoka’s continue till the end of 20”. In ne waza an instruction is a situation of departure for randori for both judoka’s.)





1ST score randori





Red tries to take his own kumi kata, white tries to prevent him or breaks the kumi kata





Classic randori TW





Kakari geiko red is tori





Randori TW switching over to NW





Position randori: red controls white in juji gatame position, but white’s arms are still locked





Kakari geiko white is tori





Sono mama randori





Position randori red in bench position





Takeover kakari geiko white is tori





Position randori red in bench position and white attacks with sankaku technique





Last 20′ randori

Mr. Tits is a member of the Pedagogical Commitee of the V.J.F. (Flemish Judo Federation, part of the Belgian Judo Federation), Headcoach of Judoteam Duffel (4 national champions 2003), and personal coach of 6 international competitiors. Copyright © by Raf Tits, March 2002. All rights reserved.