The Eternal Allure of Play


A brisk frisky romp around
Rule bound.

Blind man’s bluff?
All right, tie my eyes shut.
I will find you
With my other senses.
I can smell you!
Aha! And hear the ruffling of the leaves.
Throw out my arms and grab
At brushing sensations.

Now, it’s your turn.
Tag you, tag me.
Switching roles and being free
Laughing, squealing,
Joyfully yielding.

Ariga Sensei in Russia. Photo Credit: Leonid Selemelev

Ariga Sensei in Russia.
Photo Credit: Leonid Selemelev

Do you learn faster when you play? I notice that I retain more knowledge and techniques when we play in the dojo. Think back when you were just waiting around for your ride to pick you up, classes were over, and you and your dojo-mates fooled around with throwing someone or getting out of a lock or a grab, or solving a henkawaza puzzle given by someone else. You were playing, but learning too.

Playing is always fun.

We tried keiko in candlelight because the power was out. It was like blind man’s bluff. We tried keiko by stringing along uke for as many techniques we can do with them before a throw. We tried some ridiculous stunts like scaling the wall like Spiderman and rolling from a great height. That was fun. We tried teaching the dog rolls too. Do you remember the times when uke calls out a technique in the middle of tori’s execution just to stump tori, and he had to segue into it?

Playing gets you thinking on your feet . Play never gets old and reminds us to be child-like at times. Play refreshes, fascinates and invites others to join in. Such is the allure of play, we are not too old nor too young for it. It can be in the form of physical involvement or mental and psychological participation. It applies even between species for example, with our pets. There is mystery in play, in that it forms bonds between participants, educates them in a certain area like following rules or social graces but all wrapped in an attractive, engaging little package.

It is never too late to engage in playfulness.

(Please also see: “Senshin: The Enlightened Mind“)

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