Friday, December 4, 2009

Why fighting?

Every once in a while, someone will ask me what my classes are about. I sometimes say that they are about learning to move naturally, the principles of interaction or something similar but usually I am honest. It's all about fighting. When I say that, I can sometimes see the person get a disappointed look on their face as they imagine a bunch of homoerotic tussling jocks or that I am somehow glorifying violence.

Also, anyone that has seen the kind of things we do in my beginning classes is probably laughing at the idea that fighting is the end goal. I will get to that. But why fighting?

Shouldn't a grown man have better things to do besides learning archaic hand to hand fighting? What about music, curing cancer...hell, just about anything? Here is why I learn and teach about fighting.

First, you have to pick something to strive for in terms of skill. Aiming for being in shape, feeling good, and confidence won't really take you anywhere. There has to be a demonstrable skill that forces you to change as a person and grow. Your goal could be to move people with your words or to build the tallest building, but something has to focus your attention. It's best to go with something you are passionate about to sustain you through all the years it takes to get anywhere.

My focus on fighting has led me to learn how to move, dance, be confident and happy, and lots of other things. I get these things as side effects because I concentrate on the main goal and don't get distracted. You have to go deep rather than wide in a skill in my opinion to get to the interesting part.

There are other reasons. Fighting encompasses so many aspects of life. Attitude, movement, competition, fear, confidence, interaction, speed, power, size, psychology, intent and many other things have to be addressed to fight well. In some ways fighting is a convenient category title for all these skills.

As a human and animal, fighting is a part of life. It is just under the surface of everything we do. Every young boy knows how fighting or willingness to fight plays a big part in social status. The same is true for men, but it is much better hidden. When communication breaks down between two males and a serious argument breaks out, people have to break it up to prevent a fight. The same can happen with women as well.

When young males angle for the attention of females, status fights can easily break out. Bucks ram their antlers together, people push each other in bars or smash bottles over each others' heads.

If a people need resources or territory, they go to war to get it. That is essentially a tribal fight.

Many people use violence to get possessions or have to protect their families and possessions.

The original sport was fighting and fighting in the form of boxing or MMA continue to be hugely popular. Most sports are essentially means to deconstruct fighting into less dangerous forms. But if the rules break down, fights happen.

In some sense, all animals kill and fight just to live. We are animals and are in the same situation. Of course we have constructed a society that helps keep us from these realities. The more advanced the society, the more fighting seems silly. Ask someone who lives in abject poverty or in jail or who lives where there are limited resources if fighting is silly.

So fighting, killing and defending yourself are always there just under the surface. It's terrifying and yet it's what we are to some degree. That to me is very interesting.

So I look at the whole phenomenon. Why do people get in fights? How do they happen? What should you do? How do you move? What state of mind do you have to be in to move that way? How do you get in that state of mind? How does that state of mind affect the body?

After years of asking these questions and actually training fighting, principles start to emerge. Eventually, I found that to fight well, you have to really change as a person. You have to be passionate, feel, be vulnerable, move in a relaxed way, and grow up (as well as know how to punch, kick, clench, wrassle and all that kind of thing). All these things I should of learned to do anyway, but fighting helped me actually do it.

So if you see my classes and we are doing some kind of walking exercise or something that looks like two idiots slow dancing, we are getting our fight on. And if you are currently a student of mine and wondering if we are spending too much time on all this relaxed movement stuff. Don't worry, the hard stuff comes sooner than you would probably like.

In the interest of full disclosure, I love practicing and training to fight, but the actual stuff can be nasty. I feel terrible if I am too big an oaf to avoid a fight in a bar or something. And if I loved actually fighting so much I would probably be doing mma fights every weekend. I AM thinking about doing an mma fight in the near future, but getting injured would really suck. Do I have enough testosterone to even give a damn? Maybe. I will keep you informed. I asked my girlfriend what she thought about me doing some mma fights (thinking she would say, "don't do that, you idiot." Instead she said, "Cool!") Damn, now i am getting scared. Can I take back what I said about fighting being totally awesome?


  1. Love your article, I've linked it on my FB page and highlighted some choice quotes.

    Something that comes to mind is:
    "Of course we have constructed a society that helps keep us from these realities."

    However, because of our instinct to fight, we have created combat sports:

    "Most sports are essentially means to deconstruct fighting into less dangerous forms."

    Really, I think combat sport is the only legally and physically safe context to fight in the modern era (for those of us not involved in law enforcement or military).

  2. Thanks, glad you liked it. I appreciate the support.

    I think you are right. I guess that is why you get so many assholes in the military, law enforcement and security. Because it's sanctioned violence.

  3. There are people (unskilled in fighting) who won't back down from a confrontation, for fear of losing their pride or looking like a coward in front of their peers.

    Knowing how to fight means you can walk away from a fight, knowing full well you could have inflicted great bodily harm.