Play More (To Be More Human)

“If we can play together, then we can live together.“
—Cas Holman, ‘Abstract: The Art of Design’

As children, play is our primary learning mechanism, both as a solo and a group activity. Play is how we learn to move, to experiment, and to socialize. As we get older, many of us seem to forget the importance of play as a gateway to personal and creative growth, stress relief, and interpersonal connectivity, but, in reality, we never stop needing it.

As the years go on, we take on, or are given, more and more responsibilities. The pressure of these responsibilities often takes precedence over our desire or our ability to simply let go, to have fun, to enjoy ourselves in the innocence, purity, and joyfulness that is play. On top of this, we get distracted and drawn in by outside forces telling us what play should look like as adults, that it should be organized, materialistic, or even chemically aided, but the reality is that play is whatever we want it to be as long as it is both fun and physical.

Play is a physically, emotionally, and psychologically, immersive, expressive, and freeing experience unlike anything else available to us as humans. It is an outlet for our bodies and our minds to express themselves without fear, preconception, or expectation, and it is also a source of input through which we learn and grow as individuals and as members of a tribe. Regardless of our age, gender, or social status, play is an essential and necessary aspect of human existence that taps into our primal natures as physical, creative beings and also as social animals.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.

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