I have spent the last ten years experimenting with and developing a system of tactics for multiple attacker situations (randori, or “taninzugaki”). My objectives included building clear building block concepts (principles) tied to terminology and demonstratable skills, which can be applied against two or more attackers with or without weapons and from a variety of attacks (including classical Aikido attacks, grabs, and weapon cuts/thrusts). The greater goals for the application of this system was of course greater proficiency against multiple attackers in a realistic defense situation, but significantly also to cultivate randori as an environment for meditation – conditioning breath, inoculating against stress, and maintaining/recovering mental calm in the face of constant, relentless aggression.
This article compiles the elements of the multiple attacker system which I call “Randori Lab”, and which is also to be incorporated into the Chuseikan Skill Tree system (link here for more information on this system as a progressive skill ladder and syllabus).
The top level priorities for this system are listed as follow. Clearly, we may be differentiated from many other systems by our emphasis on our internal state of being; while we believe it is critical that training against multiple attackers remain grounded in realistic situations of potential violence, we believe the greater value is in training the perceptions and emotional maturity to handle aggression and stress in “normal life” (non-combat) situations.
- Quality of breathing: cultivating and maintaining strong, full breaths
- Quality of mind: cultivating an internal state of calmness and focus, and a lack of attachment on any particular outcome
- Effectiveness: improving skill at simultaneously limiting one’s own availability as a target, increasing entropy amongst attackers, and increasing overall availability of opportunities to control or neutralize attackers
- Situational prioritization: cultivating environmental / situational awareness and prioritization over the entire situation versus individual attackers
This is currently a working document. I will be adding videos regularly to demonstrate each of the tactics and exercises in the system, and as we test them in a syllabus / skill tree environment and collect feedback, we expect that we will make regular adjustments and improvements. Thus, this document may change. The current tactics and exercises in the Randori Lab include:
- Basic entry drills (link to video)
- Human shields (link to video)
- Threading and Newton’s Cradle
- Advanced ghosting: steering, jump-starting, splitting
- Movement reduction / minimalization; one-tatami movement
- Advanced human shields: substitutions
- Trap identification and avoidance; reversing
- Zig-zagging and target lock breaking
- Group centers – stretching and converging
- Speed manipulation
- Bailout moves
- Rainstorm meditation and attitude cultivation
- Common mistakes
- Basic rules for attackers in randori drills
Special thanks to Pete Jensen for advice, discussion and feedback from both a sports psychology and a military training perspective. Pete is an Instructor under the International Combat Systema Association (ICSA), has served as the director of the US Military Academy Center for Enhanced Performance, and has a Ph.D. in sport psychology and motor behavior.