This is a tough phrase for me to say. After all, karate is serious stuff. It's a fighting art, a method of self-defense, a means of physical fitness and a path to self-perfection. Furthermore, there is a rich history of philosophy that envelops this traditional martial art.
All this said, karate is fun. I look forward to every class. A good hard karate class that leaves my gi soaked, my body physically exhausted, and my mind turning on new bunkai, will leave me more energized than when I walked into the dojo.
There is a time and place to be serious. Karate begins and ends with respect. We bow into the dojo, courtesy our partners, and listen when sensei is speaking. That said, there is also a time to play.
At the last Hanshi McCarthy seminar, the story was told of how lion cubs spend their days. Basically, they eat, sleep, and play. This play fighting is how they train to fight when they are older.
With karate classes back in full swing this week, there was a whole lot of review, and also an introduction of a new tool to train/play karate. Borrowing a page from Hanshi McCarthy's playbook, students participated in line drills. Working from a controlled combative attack-defend-counter, students began by practicing specific applied kake exercises and bunkai. By the end of the exercise, still maintaining the partner exercise format, students were playing. True, the junior belts were working on the fundamentals. The seniors, however, were seeing how some series of bunkai naturally flow into others, and how various locks and holds naturally flow into breaks and throws.
It's fun to play karate.