Like anyone else out there I’ve had my moments of anger and rage. Usually, It was inspired by some deeply felt emotional incident. However from the outside looking in it often appears irrational, illogical, barbaric and sometimes even completely inhuman.
This is the reputation that many in combat sports carry with the uninitiated. The uninitiated being individuals who have lived such a comfortable, stress free, and sedentary life that their heart rate never exceeded 90 bpm. Ok, this is a bit of an exaggeration but you get the point I’m trying to make.
It’s easy to stand on the side lines and say, why is that person using so much aggression, why are they hitting so hard and ultimately “why are they hitting them after they’re down?”
The last one is a very good question and one I’ve even caught myself asking. Watching a fight with calm, cool eyes and a dispassionate perspective it’s easy to forget what is really happening in the ring. In that moment of absolute sheer instinct. INSTINCT!
We forget, all of us, living in a comfortable developed society with rules, regulations, peace keepers, and the prospect of punishment (that we ourselves do not need to exact on others), we are insulated. We buy our prepackaged food, never seeing what really goes into slaughtering an animal for the food we consume. We live sterile lives devoid of the true emotion and carnal instinct that still drives us to be “human”, especially in those moments of sheer passion.
Well I got a nice little reminder the other day. A quick taste of that carnal instinct that drives us to defend ourselves in the most dire of circumstances. How, do you ask, did this happen? In a simple training session with my Muay Thai coach. He was pushing me pretty hard that day. At the end of the session we worked power strikes (just straights and hooks) on a heavy bag. He kept charging me and challenging me. I’ve never been one to back down from a good challenge. . .
When the clock ran down I was exhausted but the adrenaline built up from the motions and the mental zone I was in literally pushed me forward to deliver even more blows to that bag. My coach had to call on me to stop.
I was out for blood… I had made a dire enemy out of that bag and I was going to do what ever it took to defeat it. In my mind I was backed against a wall… between me and my goals sat a large heavy bag and by God I wasn’t going to let it stand in my way.
Once my head cleared and I realized what I’d done I remembered… in the ring, this is what happens. This is why fighters do what they do. It isn’t personal, it’s just human instinct to respond that way to a threat. If you spend enough time tapping into your natural emotional heritage, you will find a great autonomic system designed to push humans to extremes for survival’s sake. This is how we were able to overcome the odds of nature, our predators and eventually build these elegant, sophisticated societies.
Yet, we should never forget our heritage. To do so would deny the purpose and meaning behind our very existence. So, the next time you watch a fight and something seems barbaric or overly aggressive… think for a moment. Think back to what these athletes are tapping into to compete and survive in the ring.
If anything, fighters are some of the most “human” individuals you may ever know.