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It has always been a puzzle for me why some aikido practitioners in my country refer to their practice as laro (play). Even my sensei (who is also Filipino) is puzzled by it. "Hindi ako naglalaro ng aikido" (I don't play aikido), he declares. "Kasi seryoso ako." (Because I'm serious).
Actually, I think a lot of martial artists in the PH refer to their pratice as laro (play). And I believe this has its origins in the PH's colonial history.
It has been recorded that during the Spanish Occupation, practice of Filipino Martial arts was often disguised as either dance practice or practice for a play (moro-moro). Perhaps this is where the habit of referring to martial arts practice as play got started.
However, modern day Filipinos seem to have forgotten the origin of the use of this term and do not take the practice of martial arts as seriously as they should. They forget O-Sensei's first rule of dojo practice: Aikido decides life and death in a single strike, so students must carefully follow the instructor's teaching and not compete to see who is the strongest.
Not following this rule leads to incorrect technique and unnecessary injuries.
So when anyone asks me "Naglalaro ka ba ng Aikido?" (Do you play Aikido?). I say "Hindi, nagsasanay ako sa Aikido" (No, I train in Aikido).
I just remembered this: One time, a first-timer to our dojo strolled onto the mat wearing his gi top with the right side over the left side, rather than the customary left over right. When I saw this, I walked up to him and said, "Excuse me, are you dead?"