Shiai refers to competition. Since there are very few formal competitions in Malaysia, we decided to start having our own shiai every month. We had done two of them when the Covid-19 lock-down was suddenly implemented. Once the lock-down is lifted and the club reopens, we will resume having these monthly shiais.

Internal shiais are good because they are a very low-stakes way to introduce your players to competition. Many beginners are nervous or worried about taking part in formal competitions, which are pressurizing even for experienced players. So, having these internal ones are a good way for them to ease into competition judo.

Competitions are important for everyone to do, even recreational players, because they are a way for you to test yourself and overcome your fears. But that's really a whole topic in itself. I'll save that for another post. In this posting, I want to talk about the various types of shiai we do at our club.

So, there's our monthly shiai, which we try to make as realistic as possible. In the last one we did before the lock-down, we even had a proper electronic scoreboard set up.

Quite often, in our regular training sessions, we would end up some mini-shiais, after randori is over. The reason we decided to have these mini-shiais is that we don't want our players to treat randoris like shiais. When all you have are randoris, some players tend to treat them like shiais. So instead of using randoris as a chance to try new techniques, they fight conservatively, falling back on techniques they are comfortable with. This defeats the purpose of randori. So, giving them their shiai fix towards the end of practice does the trick.

Sometimes, instead of four-minute shiais, we do situational shiais. For example, I would say the White player has a waza-ari and two shidos and there's only 45 seconds left in the match. Blue player then has to decide what to do during those 45 seconds? Does he try to throw White? Does he bother with newaza even? Does he try to engineer a third shido for White? Or I might say, it's Golden Score and both players have a two shidos each. And so on.

The purpose of doing this is to condition our players to learn how to fight smartly and strategically under different pressurizing circumstances. It's one thing to tell them what to do under different circumstances. It's quite another when they experience those circumstance first hand.

It's the difference between knowing something and realizing it. It's not enough that they know what to do in different situations. I want them to realize what they must do.