A selection from the The Way of Aikido: Life Lessons from an American Samurai that reflects some of my recent training thoughts, especially in terms of staff and nunchaku work:
“What are we doing in the dojo? We might have first come to aikido for self-defense or fitness or balance. But after a few months these considerations fade away. We are doing it, with all that it entails – strenuous exertion, pain, close calls, occasional injury, along with years and years of what you might call “hard work” – for the sheer delight of it.
We are playing.
Other things can be explained in terms of play, but play, being primordial, can’t be explained in terms of other things. Play precedes culture. It extends beyond the rational, beyond abstraction, beyond matter. Play in short, is irreducible. Let’s simply say that play is whatever absorbs us fully, whatever creates purpose and order, whatever involves us in as much meaningful interaction as possible.
The strange thing is that when we approach an activity in the spirit of play – fully, joyfully, and primarily for its own sake – we are likely to achieve not only the greatest happiness, but also the best results, the most enduring success.
I'll leave this to stand on its own, lest I dilute the message with my own writing.