The benefits of Judo and Play Fighting

We have an odd relationship with fighting and physical contact. We remove ourselves from it, leaving it to the men and women in the UFC. What we need to understand is that there is such a thing as playful conflict or ‘Roughhousing’.

Many of us have forgotten how to play fight or wrestle, grapple or roughhouse. We don’t even know what qualifies as play and what qualifies as assault.

To get a better sense of good play fighting, we can look to our four legged friends. Think back to the last time you saw two dogs playfully fighting. Even if they’re different sizes, you don’t see one locking out the other. There’s an element of self-adaptation at work. When one participant has a distinct advantage, the game can only continue through self-imposed limitation.

When sparring (Randori) in Judo between a black belt and a white belt, the black belt could easily throw or submit their partner time and time again. The black belt has an obvious advantage, however a proper black belt will display some restraint, creating a space that was simultaneously challenging and rewarding. It is the perfect learning opportunity.

Doing Judo at Judo Matsu, one can Improve ones strength in coping. Randori is a perfect way to introduce the unfamiliar, a potentially scary stimulus of conflict. Like other forms of training, with the right, progressive overload, the same thing happens in a neuro-social context. Being involved in Judo we discover how we instinctively respond to threats and within a safe space the boundaries established by play help us challenge ourselves and our partners to become more aware, but also involved in other forms of play.

kids play fighting judo