Play fighting is major part of rough and tumble play, Children left to play on their own will engage in wide variety of combat behaviors as part of play, grappling, striking, biting, fighting with sticks. Given ample socialization and freedom to play the will self organize ways to keep these games safe. The motivation is simple when someone gets hurt they can’t play and nobody wants to stop playing so stronger players self handicap and kids negotiate rules as to what is safe. Older children and playful adults can allow for kids to express levels of force and strategies not safe with same age peers.
when I play with little kids and adults see the kids kicking and punching me they often worry that they will replicate this behavior with their siblings or friends but this has never been the case the play provides an outlet and learning ground so the children know what they are capable of when it is appropriate to express and actually lowers their propensity for violence.
Playfighting is great for children and it is great for adults too helping to release pent up emotions and frustrations, helping to calibrate life stresses and providing a type of touch and kinaesthetic feedback that deepens connection with friends and positive connection too your own body. Young males are the most likely to seek this type of play out because as the group with highest rates of violence they feel most urgently the need to explore and feel safe in this capacities but it is also important for girls and women because it gives them permission to protect themselves and realistic ideas about what dealing with a resisting opponent feels like and most important it gives them a form of play that allows positive embodiment with touch and movement.
All martial sports can be viewed as games as specific rule limited ways of exploring combative movement. Each game has limitations as a preparation for true antagonistic violence, but each game can also be viewed as means of expression and driver of adaption for moving well.
The evolve move play system scales interactive movement from highly cooperative to highly combative and scales combative movement from limited targets and techniques with low power and minimal momentum into more targets more powerful techniques and more potential for momentum. The modified sumo discussed in this post is an early entry point.
Other favored games are variations of Capoeira, Judo, Brazilian Jujitsu, Muay Thai, and MMA.
The throws locks and chokes seen in judo and jujitsu are potential more dangerous and require better control before being fully played with then the more simple pushing and pulling seen in the modified sumo game, similarly striking has higher risks of escalation in force levels, of bruises lacerations and fractures, and so needs a far more developed control and trust between partners before it become a safe and productive game to play.
Children follow this process naturally, exploring wrestling capacities early, before exploring striking more as they grow older. Canine play has similar progression dogs that do not know each other well, will chest bump, chase, muzzle punch, hit with their paws and hip check the canine equivalent of grappling avoiding the teeth and the vulnerable targets of the kneck and flanks. As thogs get more comfortable with each other their play will often become less easily distinguished from violence by untrained observe, teeth will be bared, growls and barks employed, jaw sparring will take place, and full but controled bites around the sides and neck will occur all in complete uninhibited fun.
Evolve move play believes humans play has the same capacity it has simply been stunted by our culture. All of use should have some friends we can engage in very close to full combat behavior with while staying in control, with trust and playfulness. This experience is one of the most profoundly intimate, fun and trust building forms of play.
Your challenge today is to explore this capacity find your level of combative play.
Try just the roughousing games seen here to start
Or try some modified sumo
If you have practiced higher level striking arts play with those capacities, but think about the mindset of play, not so much about winning a fight or winning sport match, what can you find in movement capacity and in personal development in playing this way with a friend, with in the this practice how do you find the most rewarding play.
Finally for inspiration check out this clip of good friends Wanderlei silva and Mauricio Rua enjoying very high intensity sparring.