We all claim to have our reasons for fighting. Some say we fight to defend, some to conquer, some say for brutality, others for vengeance or even justice. In nature the story is often less idealistic. In the photo above you clearly see two lions engaged in conflict. The question is why?
From a photo alone it is difficult to judge. As emotional beings we tend to personify even the most basic elements of nature. As intellectual beings we reason with our emotions to assign some semblance of logic and meaning to something that truly is just a response to stimuli. Of course, that is not to say emotions are without merit, it is merely important to understand the nature of emotions to learn to master one’s self.
The topic of mastery brings us back to nature. Conflict, and why it exists. . . It is obvious, however, we sometimes take for granted the natural instinct for survival. For more basic creatures of nature the necessary elements for survival encompass much of what we in the developed world have handed to us on a silver platter. Food, protection, health and the right for procreation. In nature, when you take away our complex social protocols, technology and intellectuality these basic necessities that we may consider commodities at times are exactly what breeds conflict.
What is the point? This all seems so obvious, and yet we forget that we too are products of nature. Deep within our genetic roots are the same responses as those of animals in nature, programmed into each one of us is an instinct for conflict awareness and resolution. When our social constructs break down each one of us is capable of fighting as brutally as animals do for survival.
In most cases , however, our social constructs are stable and continue to function as intended. Thus why do we continue to fight?
Mastery, control of one’s destiny, freedom, choice, the need for acknowledgement in a hierarchy. We have taken our natural instincts and created social challenges to replace the physical challenges that beset us early in our evolution. Our nature remains unchanged but our response to it has been greatly evolved.
Is this good or bad? That is a topic for debate that could take an eternity to conclude, thus I will not entertain the question in this article.
What we do know is that the mental and physical energy that drives a human being to survive is not in equilibrium with nature when living within the confines of a purely intellectual social hierarchy. Thus we have created competitions meant to channel that energy safely within our social constructs. As the ages have passed the nature of competitions have evolved from mortal challenges to what we would consider civilized sporting competition. One of the oldest commonly known sporting competitions being the Olympics. Although this was not the only forum in history for such challenges to be met.
As our behavior has evolved we have also become less comfortable with the idea of physical confrontation and thus the “audience” and “spectators” were born. In nature more social creatures also exhibit similar behavior. It is debatable why this behavior exists in each case, however, many do agree that the desire to learn through observation is certainly a significant factor, others may contend that in non fatal confrontations a victor can only be determined by witnesses to the confrontation. This can be seen in pack animals quite often. The Alpha is challenged and at times neither the challenger or the defending champion is mortally wounded from combat. As such the pack observes and maintains a mental record of the victory.
When we look at things from this perspective we see now that we are not so dissimilar from these pack animals. Our social constructs may be complex but they are built on the same instincts coded in our DNA for centuries.
Not all sports are brutal or even potentially fatal so why engage in those that are when it is not necessary? The answer is quite simple, if you haven’t come to the conclusion on your own then I’ll explain. One word sums it up nicely… Equilibrium. In nature even the most basic scientific laws of physics and chemistry, even when looking at more complex structures such as biological ecosystems there is consistent distribution of energy and/or matter that creates equilibrium where there is none. Without getting too far into particle physics… when you blow up a balloon you have created an imbalance of energy and matter compressed within the confines of an elastic casing (the rubber of the balloon). If you release your hold on the lip of the balloon without tying it off then the air rushes out immediately, and depending on how much air was inside and the strength of the rubber, it can rush out with a great release of energy.
Particle physics can explain in detail why this occurs, but suffice it to say for our discussion today the mechanism of action is sound, proven and true thus there is no need to debate.
So if we are composed of the same atoms and molecules that require (or you could even say crave, to personify) equilibrium then how are we so different from the balloon?
Throughout each day of our lives we are presented with social conflicts. We are encouraged to resolve them in a civilized manner, to discuss, debate and so on and so forth. This all seems quite good in practice, and let me preface by saying that I am not advocating violence as a resolution for social conflict. However, the effect on our equilibrium is unavoidable. Some of us collect more energy and others less so. We will call this our stress tolerance. Much like the balloon we crave a release of this energy. To ignore this craving can have a significant amount of cascading effects on our well being… not to mention the worst case scenario of an explosion of energy…. much like the balloon popping when filled with too much air.
So again, why do we fight? I’m sure many of you have heard the phrase “letting off some steam” before. Well, quite simply this is exactly why we fight. It is merely one of many potential channels to discharge this energy. The type of individual you are will determine how effective or necessary this form of release is for you. Not everyone is built to be a fighter, a jock or an athlete. However, physical activity of some kind is absolutely the most effective way of returning your body to equilibrium.
I don’t need martial arts to fight do I? That is a good question. The need is certainly one based on very personal and specific details. I can say this with confidence, that even when one brings their body to equilibrium the mind also requires similar attention. There are a number of things that do this for people. Rest is one, meditation another, however, in more active and aggressive individuals the mind is not quelled by mere relaxation. There is sometimes a need for conflict resolution, one which is best dealt with using tactical discipline.
That combination of Mental Discipline and Physical Training is one of the most complete and effective solutions for equilibrium. That is why many millions have practiced the martial arts throughout the ages and continue to do so to this day. Sporting competitions reward us by channeling our competitive instincts through a social forum that is widely accepted. Though with any contact sport injuries can occur, there is no safer place to practice a martial art than with the guidance and supervision one receives in a school, academy, dojo or regulated competition.
Thus, the question one more time. . . What do you fight for? I fight to achieve equilibrium and maintain mental and physical balance in my life. If you feel the need for this as well, then I encourage you to reach out and begin studying a martial art. You may find you can’t imagine living without it.