I have recently been reading a book about play and how it is important to human’s life. This is the book I have been reading, Play: How it Shapes the Brain – Stuart Brown M.D. It is actually a very scientific and well researched book on something that you would not think was very academic. Anyway why am I discussing this random book, more importantly why did I bother to read and what does it actually have to do with BJJ. Well for me I found the concept of the importance of play intriguing. Having worked in an office since leaving school, back when old skool was original. I’ve not really done much of what the book describes as play. I always did things for a purpose, my training, reading, there was nothing that I actually did for just the hell of it. I always pushed myself to do the best I could and this probably wasn’t the healthiest looking back and it definitely isn’t trying to do this now. As I have tried and I have ended up damaged or ill.
But looking at my BJJ with “play goggles” on I am now starting to see aspects of this as my playtime. In the book they gave a list of the properties of play:
Apparently Purposeless (done for its own sake)
Freedom from time
Diminished consciousness of self
Thinking about the above and the fact that, “Playful interaction allows a penalty-free rehearsal of the normal give and take necessary in social groups…” Has helped changed my view on my BJJ training. Due to my years of head down and suffer through it training style, I know this has had an effect on my motivation to train, as I used to see it as something I should do. Yes I enjoyed my training, no matter how painful it was, but that was always afterwards. Once I had got it out of the way. Yeah pretty negative words to describe something I “enjoyed” doing. But during my training I did tend to clock watch, which was definitely wrong the wrong attitude to have. (I know now)
The thing I have now realised is that, it is the free rolling I enjoy the most. This fits totally into the description of play. This also explains a reaction I had to an experience I had whilst rolling. One partner I was with was heavier than me and was determined not to use any skill, just to use his weight and strength to “win”. He in no way was trying to learn or try things out in a safe environment, he just wanted to get what he thought of as a win. It had ceased to be about having fun for him. I found this extremely frustrating, because it took away all the fun and enjoyment, for the both of us. But the other thing we lost out on is learning. This is a really good point the book makes “Play also promotes the creation of new connections that didn’t exist before, new connection between neurons and between disparate brain centres” I know that I need to do the drilling and the learning to enjoy the “play”. But the the play promotes and improves the learning of the techniques you drill. So playing improves my learning, what an awesome concept. Being able to look at my training from a different perspective has definitely given me a fresh insight and a new motivation.
The best thing I have learnt from this book is despite being an old munki I can still enjoy doing something for the fun of it and not because there has to be a reason or a specific outcome from it and this I have found is very liberating. It also is infectious and having fun does roll over into other aspects of your life too, which I have found beneficial. After all you’re never to old to have some fun.
Keep on munki-ing
For those of you that want a bit more of an insight into the “Play” book here is a talk from the author from a few years ago.