The attacker attempts to stab the defender with a training knife usually rubber or stuffed while the defender attempts, with any of seventeen basic aikido techniques, to throw or perform joint-locks on the attacker. In competition, the roles switch, with competitors having the same amount of time with and without the knife. In both these forms of randori, the traditional separation between the performer of technique tori and the receiver of technique uke no longer exists, as either participant may throw the opponent. Glancing hits do not count. Obviously, this does not apply to toshu randori.
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Tomiki was one of the early students of the founder of aikido Morihei Ueshiba , beginning in , and also of Jigoro Kano , the founder of judo.
From till the end of the second world war he lived in Manchukuo Manchuria where he taught aikibudo an early name for aikido to the Kanton army and the Imperial Household Agency.
In he became an assistant professor at Kenkoku University in Manchukuo. He went on to be awarded the first 8th dan in aikido and an 8th dan in judo It was there that he formulated and expanded his theories concerning both kata based training methods and a particular form of free-style fighting which would put him at odds with much, but not all, of the aikido world. It was this action on the part of Tomiki of attempting to convert aikido into a sport that led to a schism with the founder Morihei Ueshiba and the Aikikai.
Convinced of the need to modernize aikido, he stood his ground and persisted in his efforts to evolve a viable form of competition. In , Tomiki along with 9 other martial art instructors were selected to tour US Air Force bases in the United States  and was thus the first aikido instructor to visit the US. Tomiki is perhaps best known in the judo world for his influence in the developing of Kodokan Goshin Jutsu kata.
His work Judo, published in , is considered a classic. The basic rules for the holding of aikido tournaments had been worked out by this time in what would become an ongoing experiment to develop a viable form of competitive aikido. This dojo was intended to function as the headquarters of the Japan Aikido Association and Tomiki served as its first director. The current head of the dojo and chief instructor of the Shodokan Aikido Federation is Tetsuro Nariyama.