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  • Shihan Kendall

The Serious Work of Play

"Law and order, commerce and profit, craft and art, poetry, wisdom and science. All are rooted in the primeval soil of Play." -Johan Huizinga


Those are some serious things we talk about in the Dojo: bad guys and bullies if you're a kid, predators and psychos if you're an adult. We explore, in depth, the dynamics of violent encounters and how to control and use the violence that we ourselves are capable of. Yeah, that's pretty serious. And beyond the self-defense skills that we develop in our training, there's our core mission--which while not grave, is really serious, too. We aim to make ourselves healthier, physically and mentally. We overcome fears, break through limitations, and do the hard work it takes to make one a better person. That's serious, too. Yet for all that seriousness, any time you were to walk through our Dojo this past week, you only saw and heard people having fun. As you could tell from the laughter, the smiles and the unbridled enthusiasm given to every activity, these were children and adults at play. Serious things can be accomplished through play. Play relieves stress; we learn better when we are relaxed. Play frees creativity, which helps us problem solve and adapt to new concepts. It strengthens the mind/body link. It creates an immediacy and vividness to the subject matter. Playful activity fosters a sense of confidence among participants, the kind that allows people to take chances and test their limits. It's play that makes possible the hard work that helps us achieve some serious results.

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