I would like to solicit members of this forum for some advice and guidance ...
I am a 3rd Kyu senior judoka, having returned to Judo as an adult. After having had some mixed successes in local competitions, I have started training with the state squad in anticipation of National competitions later this year. Naturally, this state training includes a great number of much more experienced judoka than myself and has been of a greater intensity than what I have been generally accustomed. While this is to be somewhat expected, I have however been finding myself particularly struggling with the randori element of this training.
In the randori undertaken as part of this training, I am feeling very inexperienced, at times being thrown with very big (and at times, painful) throws and struggling to even prepare, let alone even execute, my own throws. Indeed, for the most part, this randori feels more like shiai with my some partners even assuming highly defensive positions (stiff arms and blocking me own entirely in a fashion which I known would attract a shido in competition). This is not something that I seem to experience in this training with partners that I either know or have worked with previously.
So knowing that randori forms a key element of the pedagogy of judo, the question that I pose to the forum is - How can I best learn from randori, particularly where this randori feels more like shiai than "practice"?
Thanks in advance.
I would echo what tafftaz wrote. In addition, you also should consider that you simply might not be ready for that level of training. You have two options: you continue nevertheless or you would quit. I would continue and get myself ready, but I am not you, so I don't know. The higher the level the great the gap and the more stunning the qualities the jûdôka are. At the world elite level, for example, the sheer amount of physical strength is such, that you can't even begin to imagine what it is I am talking about; they are really that outrageously strong, so that you start doubting whether you are facing a human being or a grizzly bear or gorilla; some even look like them, which may affect your conclusion ...
In Kanô's classical example, jûdô is always displayed as a little weak guy or woman with perfect technique facing some ogre-like adversary with the IQ of a pebble on the beach who has zero knowledge of balance or martial arts. I reality we rarely face a person in jûdô who does not know any jûdô or martial art. People who are not skilled in any combat art, simply rather choose to refrain from getting involved in fights, so not much of a surprise. What you have to face with your judo skills is quite the opposite: people with more judo skills than you, with more experience, and who are physically stronger. Kanô was quite smart avoiding to address that situation in all of his articles, lectures, or marketing strategies for his new jûdô.
Your challenge, if you want to continue, is ... "to survive", in figurative sense, at least. You are not going to do that just with jûdô. You will have to significantly develop your support systems. Firstly, you'll have to beef up your aeobic endurance, and secondly, your dynamic strength. It's not that difficult since the training effect will be quicker to notice that in improving judo technique. Improved aerobic endurance and strength provides you with more reserve to mobilize your judo. Besides, many older judoka who may have better technique than much younger champions know all to well what the importance is of aerobic endurance. Simply to remain on your feet against a young top player requires so much energy that you can't even mobilize your energy anymore. There are other supporting systems that are even more significant, such as anaerobic endurance and explosive strength, but you can't really develop these before having seriously developed the rest.
The other thing is of course judo strategy, insight, and control. You'd be an idiot to go fight the stiff arms or grip of a judoka who is stronger and more experienced. This is how you lose energy. If they have such strong arms that they are blocking you off, let them do, it because fighting it is a waste of energy. You need to learn how to control someone with minimal energy, and you need to learn the importance of tai-sabaki, so that facing or resolving the issues you are confronted with are done in an efficient way. If I read what you are writing, you seem to be practicing "minimal efficiency at maximal effort".