Why We Started RoughHouse

At school, they told my son that he wasn’t allowed to play tag.

At first this made me angry. Then it made me scared. Minimally supervised, unstructured play is crucial to a child’s development. Studies show that children in a free-play environment exercise harder and play longer than they will at any organized sport. And leaving children to work problems out on their own, as much as possible, is how they learn to strike that crucial balance between cooperation and competition.

These effects are so powerful, that, after careful study, Germany has outlawed academic-based kindergarten and 1st grade curricula. What they found was that children who were educated in this way had  lower future academic performance than children who were taught a play-based curriculum.

If you are familiar with the latest developments in neuroscience, this makes perfect sense. Movement, and lots of it, is key to brain development. So too is play. The young of every mammal species engages in rough, joyous play. But zero-tolerance policies, no-touch rules and the rise of year-round children’s sports leagues have effectively annulled exactly the kind of play that evolution demands of our children.

RoughHouse is designed to give it back.


I started training so long ago, I can’t really remember why. After 25 years of experience in the Martial Arts, I can tell you three things, for sure:

  1. The fastest and most effective way to learn anything is by playing joyful games.
  2. The most important skill anyone can have —  more important than conditioning or technical ability — is the ability to work with one’s own fear and stress.
  3. Practicing an art where your internal state is reflected in your movement, is the only way I know of for people to repair and improve themselves on the deepest level. For some people this this is pottery or yoga or even golf. For me, it has been the martial arts.

Training since 1993, teaching since 1998.

Instructor in the Russian Martial Art of Systema.

Holds black belt rank in two styles of Aikido (Yoshinkan, ASU)  and one style of Jiu-jitsu (Daito-ryu Roppokai).

I have been beaten up in many different languages. Which means I have cross-trained in Judo, BJJ/Submission wrestling, Arnis, Karate and Muay Thai.