Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
31 Aug

The Role of Fighting in a Primal Life

In today’s post I’d like to explore whether fighting is something missing from our lives. Before you protest, understand what I mean by “fighting.” I won’t be directly commenting on the war and violence we see on the evening news. Genocide, conquest, theft, rape, and murder? These are acts of coercive violence, wherein either an institution, an individual, or a group of individuals perpetrate violence (or coerce others to do the perpetrating for them) against people who have not consented. No, I’m talking about something decidedly different. Boxing, MMA, martial arts, wrestling, and just roughhousing with some buddies are all examples of two people consensually engaging in interpersonal violence. Going up against another person in single, consensual combat where personal enmity is not the motivating factor? I can’t imagine a greater test of one’s strength, speed, skill, and smarts. Let’s dig in.

Last time, I mentioned that violence was ubiquitous among early humans. Hominids have been fighting for millions of years, and every culture of humans has a fighting tradition, from the boxing, wrestling, and pankration (a freeform mix of boxing and wrestling, similar to MMA) of the ancient Hellenic world to the well-known East Asian martial arts (judo, jujitsu, karate, kung fu, tai chi, etc.) to the folk grappling/wrestling traditions that every culture across every continent seems to have. People fight, people like winning fights, and fighting systems improve a person’s ability to win fights, so even if our ancestors weren’t writing instructional manuals, they were probably learning to fight.

In the West, we hear the words “martial art” and imagine Mr. Miyagi, Shaolin monks, and Bruce Lee uttering “Be like water.” It’s come to be associated most strongly with Eastern religious philosophy, with “zen” (or whatever we think zen is) and calm, kindly old men who’d rather teach and talk than fight (but when they fight, you better watch out). And indeed, most traditional Eastern martial arts are linked to various schools of religious thought, but when you get down to it, a martial art remains a codified system of combat – a fighting system primarily developed to improve self-defense and physical conditioning. So why the spiritual stuff? Systematic fighting likely didn’t arise as a way to become enlightened or achieve perpetual serenity – people developed codified fighting because it helped them win fights and stay alive in battles – the philosophy came after as a natural product of learning how to fight.

What if fighting is a way to “tame the beast” within? By being aggressive for a short amount of time in a controlled environment where aggression is expected and understood, you satisfy the “need” for aggression. Remember that human aggression is probably an adaptive trait, a deep-seated holdover from the days when surviving and thriving meant killing things (and sometimes people) for food or territory. As I mentioned yesterday, aggressive people had a better shot at obtaining resources, retaining mates, and spreading their genes. Evidence for the effect of fight training on aggression is mixed. While a few studies suggest that martial arts training increases aggression, a recent review (PDF) of the literature found that the majority of studies show martial arts to have a favorable effect on aggression across all age groups. Of course, this all presupposes that “aggression” is always a negative trait that results in actual violence. If that aggression is used or redirected productively – when training or fighting – it may not even result in destructive or “extracurricular” violence.

In fact, I’ve yet to see any evidence that martial arts training increases violence outside of the ring/mat/gym. There’s some evidence that training in martial arts or other fighting systems reduces violence, however, and it appears to have a generally positive effect on mood. Three US elementary schools used a martial arts training program called the Gentle Warrior to reduce bullying in 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. Participants who spent the most time in the program displayed the most empathy, fewer bouts of aggression, and a greater frequency of helpful by-standing, or helping out others who were being bullied; the effect was only present in males, however. Another recent British study found that youths who were involved in “combat sports” were subjected to fewer environmental risk factors commonly associated with criminality. It was questionnaire-based and totally observational, but it’s supportive of the hypothesis that martial arts does not increase violence. A similar study was undertaken to assess the impact of martial arts training on “high-risk” youth, finding that training improved self-esteem and gave high-risk kids a less favorable attitude toward violence in general.

Martial arts could even be rehabilitative. In female veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who had been sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers while serving, a self-defense program improved their mental states and reduced PTSD symptoms. The results were impressive. At six months, behavioral avoidance and depression had decreased.

For a sport that revolves around inflicting damage on your opponent, mixed martial arts has fairly low rates of serious injury. In a study of injury trends during 635 professional matches, lacerations (tearing of the skin from blunt trauma, like a fist or knee; ugly, but relatively minor) were the most common injury. Serious concussions occurred in 3% of matches, and no deaths or serious injuries occurred. A comparison (PDF) between martial arts, wrestling, and boxing found that boxing resulted in the most injuries, followed by wrestling, and then martial arts, but overall, the three combat sports had similar injury rates to non-combat sports. I’ve heard that since boxing gloves are bigger than MMA gloves, they allow the fighter to take more hits, so more damage accumulates, somewhat similar to the effects of padded running shoes. The pain is blunted but the damage is done.

Overall, I think there’s a strong case to be made that humans derive a lot of benefits from fighting in a structured system against peers, not out of anger, but with mutual respect. Indeed, it appears to reduce or redirect aggression, relieve stress, build self-confidence, and improve mood (and who couldn’t use a little less stress, a little more confidence, and a better mood?). In my opinion, structured combat training allows us to address the modern “violence deficit” without seriously hurting others, hurting ourselves, or getting into trouble with the law. Joining an MMA or boxing gym, learning to wrestle, or attending martial arts classes are probably ideal, as they provide the structure and guidance that a beginner needs, and they offer the chance to “fight” people who are there with a similar mindset and purpose. Another option is to roughhouse with a friend, but I’m not sure unstructured, untrained freeform fighting offers the same benefits as a structured fighting system, or if it’s even safe. If that’s your only option, exercise caution, don’t ruin any friendships, or consider a heavy bag instead.

The only MMA site I’m familiar with is Sherdog, and from initial observations it appears to have a robust forum with some helpful folks who do the sport themselves (rather than just talk about professionals who do). If you want to get started with fight training, that might be a good place to start. If you’re looking for gyms or schools for instruction, quick Google of “mma gym (your city)” or “boxing gym (your city)” or whatever fighting art interests you will produce results. Be sure to check reviews on Yelp. A lot of places will offer beginner classes for free to let you get a feel for the place. Look for gyms with supportive, friendly teachers and students without visible egos. Don’t go joining Cobra-Kai dojo or anything like that.

I know from your emails that I have a lot of readers who are into mixed martial arts and other combat disciplines, so please – blow up the comment section with advice on how one gets started with learning how to fight. I’d really appreciate it, and I’m sure all our readers would, too.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Well timed again Mark. I’ve been trying to decide between a Shotokan Karate gym or an MMA gym which has Muai Tai and Jujitsu (along with crossfit classes). The MMA is more expensive, but has more to offer. I like the Karate though because you also learn shadow arts or Katas, which I think would be just as valuable as the martial art itself.

    Jeff wrote on August 31st, 2011
  2. I studied kung fu many, many years ago. I was never less inclined to “prove” something by fighting. Probably a combination of increased self-confidence and the realization that “winning” a street fight proves nothing.

    I haven’t retained much of the physical skills I developed way back then, but have kept two lessons:
    1) Do everything possible to avoid a fight, especially running away, as it’s pointless.
    2) If you have no other option but to fight, go “all in” — no rules, no mercy until you can safely leave.

    I have a minor complaint about the phrase that martial arts helped at-risk youth improve “self-esteem.” We have a whole nation of self-absorbed turds with an attitude of entitlement who have great self-esteem. What studying martial arts does (or any activity where you overcome obstacles and improve yourself)is improves “self-respect,” which has to be earned.



    JNaughton wrote on August 31st, 2011
  3. As someone who has played hockey for 50 some years and who has also trained in martial arts for a long time, my opinion is that playing in combat like sports and learning to fight is generally a positive thing.

    Number one is that it gets rid of aggression. It seems to use up testosterone and you are pretty mellow after participating.

    Number two is that learning to fight and protect yourself is a necessity and both young males and females need this type of training. It gives confidence, teaches young people that sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t. That everyone has certain skills that you don’t posses, and you have ones that they don’t. It also teaches respect.

    Lastly fighting and competition is primal. An example is: in a professional hockey game some players jobs are to go out and “stir the pot” and try to instigate a fight. The reason is to get the team going. It gets the blood flowing for all the players not just the two combatants and the pace of the game increases.

    Now this may be mostly a male testosterone thing, but watch women in the stands or at wrestling/boxing matches and they get pretty worked up as well.

    So although it’s a primal instinct, we need to and usually find ways to harness it constructively (sports)which keeps it from manifesting itself in more negative ways.

    Reacher wrote on August 31st, 2011
  4. Long-time martial artist, I’ve trained in many disciplines, and while a catch-phrase in this area is “self-defense”, far more important for me is defense of others. I can take a beating if necessary, however I could not tolerate a loved one getting attacked while I’m there. Being able to defend my wife, family, friends is far more important to me than self-defense. And yes it’s true that once you achieve a certain level of proficiency, you can send most would-be attackers packing with a calm stare. Lastly, I will say that the only way to really be able to fight effectively is to train with heavy contact. If you don’t train to experience hard hits, your body will go into shock when you actually do take a hit for real. Forms/katas mostly ineffective for true fighting. There simply is no substitute for contact, in this case it is absolutely true – no pain, no gain. You must be able to fight through the pain, in a real encounter, you can’t quit, no matter what, until the other is completely incapacitated.

    CT wrote on August 31st, 2011
  5. I have been fighting or making a living off teaching people to fight for a long time. First as a cop in the ghetto, and now running my own training company, I train everyone from soccer moms, to the military. I am also a Combat Skills Instructor for the DOD. This topic is near and dear to my heart.

    I believe that controlled “violence” prevents street violence and bullying. Boys naturally rough house, and too many Mom’s who don’t understand the importance of it shut them down. It is a good thing to get punched in the face and the wind knocked out of you. That way you know how it feels if it happens to you, as well as knowing that it hurts someone else. I don’t believe their is anyone else to let off some of our natural aggression.

    The reason their is a need for spirituality in martial arts is that if you only know how to hurt someone your soul becomes dark. With inner strength and healing comes the understanding that touching another can either be martial or healing depending on the intent.

    We live in a society that is full of violence. If we care about ourselves and our family we need to prepare to defend ourselves.

    Sadly in many traditional martial arts and how they are practiced these days, you could spend many months/years and money to learn the “tricks”. I don’t teach Judo of Ju Jitsu for money. What I teach as part of a system including interpersonal communication skills, and first aid is combatives. Brutally effective fundamentals that along with the understanding of human anatomy and physiology allow you to stop and attack in the minimum amount of time.

    By doing this, I can still roll doing Judo or just rough housing, knowing that I am still prepared for reality. If anyone would like any information about this type of training and some things you can do by yourself. Just e-mail me at

    George Matheis wrote on August 31st, 2011
  6. I started submission grappling (like BJJ) two months ago, and it is the most exhilirating thing I have ever done. It’s primal, intense, very physical AND mental.

    Grappling brings you into body contact with a wide range of people, and it’s strangely satisfying. In our society, we are often physically isolated from other people, and the friendly competition of grappling is a great way to make physical connections.

    Rachel wrote on August 31st, 2011
    • Great point! Another alternative is Tango!

      Jaime wrote on August 31st, 2011
  7. I train in Krav Maga – not only is it a great workout, but it is also a great way to release excess agression, anger, stress, etc. in a controlled environment, and get hands-on experience with fighting and self defense without getting hurt.

    Rosemary wrote on August 31st, 2011
  8. I’d definitely agree that controlled “combat” is a healthy engagement. I play roller derby – and while it’s not hand-to-hand combat, it’s still an aggressive, full-contact sport where there is a controlled, yet combat-driven environment. It is really incredible to feel and witness the positive results – it is a perfect channel for inner aggression, and many women will report an overall increase and improvement in mood, self confidence and health.

    Great article!

    Ruby Rocker #77 wrote on August 31st, 2011
  9. A friend of mine and I hit the park the other night for a couple of rounds of boxing. You learn a lot about yourself when you are getting punched in the face. I can’t say when the last time that I had the adrenaline flowing like that night.

    Kevin wrote on August 31st, 2011
    • fight club!

      Jaime wrote on August 31st, 2011
      • You don’t talk about Fight Club…

        Bill wrote on August 31st, 2011
  10. I have been practicing and teaching a full-contact martial art that utilizes continuous sparring. I can’t say enough positive things about martial arts – its good for the mental and physical balance and provides strength in a very positive way that has lots of benefits.
    Calming the mind and balancing the body are great goals and this is a solid path to attain both!
    Its rare that anyone gets hurt in our classes – as finding control is what this is all about!

    GEON wrote on August 31st, 2011
  11. For the first time, one of your posts totally lost me. My take on this is that it is not something you are really interested in, but that you thought would cause a lot of discussion and interest in your site. Your author just reached a little too far. Female soldiers who have been raped and PTSD? Classy way to try to add some pseudo-scientific and totally unrelated “evidence” to back up your hypothesis. Self defense is not a form of therapeutic fighting, and the benefit derived from such a class (a greater understanding of how to protect oneself and a corresponding lessening of fear) does not come from beating on someone.

    Byron wrote on August 31st, 2011
    • I teach cops, soldiers (both about to deploy & recently returned), and rape/sexual assault victims. Lot’s of them, as my school works with our local police department, Fort Hood, & SafePlace. I have done this for years. Self defense training is absolutely theraputic, or my students have all lied to me about the effect it’s had on them & kept coming back to training to fool me. And you’re right, the benefit doesn’t come from beating on someone, it comes from learning to protect yourself and others while getting a crazy-hard workout.

      Miss Parker wrote on August 31st, 2011
  12. When I turned 30 I took TaeKwonDo for 3 years – until knee surgery for wear and torn cartilage left me too nervous to continue… I didn’t learn proper stretching for my body till many years later I discovered Resistance Flexibility and Strength Training (RFST),

    While training in TKD I was the least angry and most calm of my life – Some of it was the exercise, but some was full-force bag work and actual sparring, and feeling that much confidence in trusting my body to know how to defend itself.

    I still miss it, and hope to someday get the cartilage replaced (I’ve had 5 knee surgeries all together, 3 on left, 2 on right) so I could avoid pain and more damage – I would definitely train differently now that I understand how my own body moves, and how important proper stretching, and not-overly tight fascia is.

    Darshana wrote on August 31st, 2011
  13. Although I don’t study it any longer due to time and family responsibility constraints, the most rewarding martial arts experience I ever had was studying under the ARMA, or Association for Renaissance Martial Arts. This was a group that used renaissance-era fighting manuals and an attitude of “keep it as real as we can” to re-learn the lost arts of the medieval and renaissance era, including sword combat of various types (longsword, rapier, etc.), wrestling, dagger work, etc. It was VERY experimental, we had to create most of our own equipment because what most “re-enactment” groups use isn’t even close to the real thing, and it was a true learn-as-you-study thing. But it was real, brutal at times, and a heck of a lot of fun. I highly recommend it.

    Jamie Fellrath wrote on August 31st, 2011
  14. I read an article for a Japanese Studies course comparing Japanese grade schools with those in the U.S. One topic of contention was that the Japanese schools allowed fighting on the playground and didn’t intervene very much. They had found this reduced violence among teens in high school. The little ones can’t do very much damage to each other, and taking a blow can really show you the power of hurt; which helps to develop empathy. I thought this made good sense, so I’m not surprised to see similar studies cited in this article.
    I didn’t like ‘fighting’ as a kid, but I certainly enjoyed a lot of rough-housing with my brothers and sisters and it was pretty fun. Pillow fights; wrestle-mania; tag; hide-and-seek-in-the-dark(akin to hunting, no?)… I look at kids now, and they are so over-protected I wonder what the repercussions will be?

    Jaime wrote on August 31st, 2011
  15. I am a huge ROCKY fan and always wanted to start fighting but did not have the means. Thinking that it was something that you needed to be born into, or live next to. I never tried. After participating in sports my entire life I was missing that competitive drive. I thought boxing would be a great answer. It was you should do it, its not that hard to get into. People are nice and most “dive” gyms not onlty offer a great atmosphere but a great price too.

    Rob wrote on August 31st, 2011
  16. Great article, with only one criticism. I would not recommend Sherdog as the best place to find a MMA community. Sherdog is notorious for “trolls” and other such crazy people who belittle people for fun.

    I would prefer to relate people to MMAWeekly and their community forums. Sure, they do have some trolls here and there, but overall the community i willing to help some genuinely interested in learning. The “Training/ Conditioning Discussion” section is kept very professional with an atmosphere comprised of educated athletes as well as people new to MMA and fitness in general.

    Conk wrote on August 31st, 2011
  17. Thanks, Mark, for bringing up a topic that’s somewhat taboo. Western society has a lot of trouble with the idea of aggression because of mistaken notions of what being civilized means — kind of like our issues with meat-eating. What gets lost in our ignorance are the lessons of control and responsibility that are never part of the movie and game violence that are the closest most of us get to real violence. I grew up around hunters (in the 60’s), and the messages you heard over and over again were not about aggression, threat and fear, but about gun safety and responsibility — even when we kids played with cap guns, we were always warned not to shoot directly at each other.

    Pam wrote on August 31st, 2011
  18. Thought provoking post and comments. I have zero interest in engaging in a sport involving fighting and inflicting pain on others and receiving it myself. I have participated in a self-defense workshop and would again; being a woman I have always wanted to be able to protect myself. But I think I am more of a peaceful mediator type. I do enjoy feeling my muscles working, but I think I would find something a bit more solitary.

    T Hut wrote on August 31st, 2011
  19. Nice post Mark. I grew did very poorly socially growing up. I did much better when I got into Martial Arts. I can’t recommend them enough.

    Jim wrote on August 31st, 2011
  20. I agree with a couple of posters above, Krav Maga fits the bill. Excellent work out and quick results for folks who want to learn how to defend themselves or turn the attacker into the defender very quickly. No nonsense approach and style.

    Don wrote on August 31st, 2011
  21. As a female weighing in at 125 pounds and being a life-long pacifist I admit that I enjoy a fun tussle from time to time. In college my roommate and I would wrestle if one of us needed to blow off some steam. (He was very much like a big brother to me). No one ever got hurt (except a couch) despite him having 40 pounds of muscle to his advantage. I have since tried boxing (which I did not enjoy) and a few martial arts based self defense classes but it’s not the same. I am jealous of guy friendships because of the “all in fun” tussles.

    FoCo Girl wrote on August 31st, 2011
  22. I definitely approve of martial and self defense classes. My only thing and many of my masters and other coaches all tend to agree that it takes about six months of consistent training to make it a useful body memory tool for defense. Kind of like those that carry a gun for protection but no training in proper use and handling often are victims of their own gun. And often that same temperament gets them into situations that a real trained person would not go into just because they have a weapon for defense.
    Now as a mom while I personally am not into mma, boxing and wrestling I have a son who is very much into this as well as martial arts. My son just barely starting puberty has had his moments of lashing out and frustration of the girls and boys pushing him around (he is the smallest in his age group) but as well the first to defend someone weaker than him etc. Sports and various fighting techniques have more than released his aggressive tensions and allowed for a much more enjoyable son around the house.
    Think it helps my girls feel more confidence as well as a release for their own tensions.
    Again finding a true training that not only is training for sport and tournaments but for real life usage too is work but so worth it.

    Tamara wrote on August 31st, 2011
  23. Traditional English boxing (e.g. Broughton Rules, ‘bare knuckle’)discourages blows to the head because of the risk of hand injury. The change to Queensbury rules made boxing more dangerous. George Bernard Shaw, an avid boxer, wrote an essay complaining of the change for this reason. It should be on line somewhere.

    ‘Fighting’ has no special value, the capacity to fight, IF AND WHEN NEEDED, is priceless.

    John the Drunkard wrote on August 31st, 2011
  24. I’ve been doing different martial arts (boxing and karate) for years now and I highly recommend them.

    It definitely improves your mood and level of alertness.

    I even find that I’m slowly building a little bit of muscle.

    As for the violence and agression, I haven’t been in a fight (outside the gym) since middle school.

    Great post, Mark!

    Daniel wrote on August 31st, 2011
  25. Yessss!!! I totally agree with getting into any kind of MA training, for a variety of positive reasons. Certain kinds aren’t for everyone, & the local clubs will probably vary in instructor / sensei types, so you need to find a good fit in what works & feels comfortable for you, but check them out. Most do offer a free class or more to let you try it out. There are so many benefits! I agree that MA trained students are least likely to bully or even fight, & more likely to defend those being bullied. It just goes against the code we’re taught. You learn discipline, self-respect & respect for others, to work hard, & practice gains merit, among other positive traits. Self-confidence is one of the best rewards for training. Our dojang teaches kids’ after school programs, women’s self-defense classes,knife defense & other weapons clinics, & fitness, as well as Hapkido, Korean Sword / Gumdo, Muay Thai, & BJJ. As a participant in all of these, I’ve enjoyed the camradarie as well as the skills. I have no demanding urge to deck annoying people, yet I have the confidence to deal with them, pacifically or otherwise, if they get violent. Btw,I’m a 5′- female.

    Newbyann wrote on August 31st, 2011
  26. Long time Greco-roman wrestler and now the past 10+ years after high school I have been doing submission wrestling (brazilian jujitsu without the pyjamas).

    Getting into wrestling early gave me really good discipline and structure. without it I doubt I would have done as well in school and in general be structured and disciplined in life. This has nothing to with the aggressiveness or the fighting part but in the training itself. If you can motivate yourself on a really bad day when you are sore and tired to get in and wrestle for 90 minutes then very little will require motivation and discipline to do in comparison. So just the training has so many positive effects on the rest of your life.

    Workout-wise a good martial art will be great. In our gym we combine technique training which requires agility and dexterity with sparring which is pretty much like sprints.

    majk wrote on August 31st, 2011
  27. In regard to the study about female veterans with PTSD due to sexual assault from fellow soldiers: it’s nice that that program helped them feel better. But what about a program that trains male soldiers NOT to attack their fellow female soldiers?!? Seems like that might save some time and trouble.

    Most women are pretty busy with work and family and don’t really have time for extensive martial arts training. It would be nice if men could be trained not to attack us.

    shannon wrote on August 31st, 2011
    • One could be well trained if they went to a class twice a week for 2 hours at a time and practiced at home.

      Of course no one should be raping anyone.

      utb1528 wrote on August 31st, 2011
    • I worked full time and had a family and I still went to class – it was my special me-time.

      Nancy wrote on August 31st, 2011
  28. Thank you for this awesome post! I’m a Krav Maga instructor & couldn’t agree more that the role of consenual violence in a training setting is grossly undervalued. In particular the phrase I hear from other females about their training is, “this is my therapy”. Blowing off steam on the mat is what prevents many trainees from blowing up at work or home & allows people to shrug off events that might have otherwise caused conflict and problems.

    Miss Parker wrote on August 31st, 2011
  29. Great article, Mark.

    Dave wrote on August 31st, 2011
  30. After a particularly frustrating day of work, there is no workout that I enjoy more than hitting the heavy bag hard for 3 5 minute rounds and then slamming my 30 lb sledgehammer against a tire. Mix that with 5 sets of 10 kettlebell swings and I feel human again.

    Does this count?

    Jeff Rapson wrote on August 31st, 2011
  31. Glad to see someone defending combat sports, instead of vilifying them. Although, I am sad to see the typical hogwash in the comment sections about media-caused violence. If you are interested in getting into martial arts or MMA, then it is crucial to determine what you actually want out of it. If want full-contact sparring, after your body is ready for it, then you’ll want to join an MMA, Hapkido, Muay Thai, or BJJ gym. It’s also good to join one for adults, so you don’t have to worry about kids. If you want to learn a fighting system that is practical for self-defense, then I would suggest: Krav Maga, Muay Thai, Hapkido, Kajekembo (spelling?), or some form of practical combat system. Most martial arts are not set up in a way that is obviously practical, although they all still give you the same relative skills but the avowed purposes and teachings of said skills may not be delivered in a practical way. Any martial arts will teach balance and awareness of the body, and other bodies.
    It’s exciting to see a resurgence of martial arts that is growing alongside the increasing popularity of MMA.

    Greg wrote on August 31st, 2011
  32. Fighting is great, I encourage learning how to do it wel because the traing is excellant way to get fit. Sometimes all the fighting skills in the world aren’t enough if someone wants to do you harm and doesn’t care about the consequences. You want to be primal? Know how to fight, but be prepared if it will take more than that. The primitive man carried a weapon with him, and I do the same. Do it legally. Don’t get caught short and bring a fist to a knife or gun fight..

    steve wrote on August 31st, 2011
  33. I just spent the summer in Mongolia documenting some of the combat theories you mentioned in the post.

    My Web site Wrestling Roots is the home for multimedia content, essays and histories that discuss the necessity of traditional wrestling styles around the world and how much of what we see in athletics can be related back to the simple art of wrestling. It’s obvious to most who study the sport that wrestling is the most basic and meaningful way to figure out conflict and for many that can mean resolving issues before they manifest into something much more violent. Unfortunately the trend around the world is to negate wrestling as a form of barbarism, something that nations seek to distance themselves from once they start their creep into modernity. Of course I’m a bit biased but I think promoting and protecting traditional forms of non-striking combat can relieve social ills, establish lines of communication where they didn’t exist and create respect between tribes and groups of idealist who otherwise would look to maim and injure each other. It’s also the best workout known to man.

    Learn more on the site and send me an email at trfoley AT gmail if you want more information.

    T.R. Foley wrote on August 31st, 2011
  34. Last time I did contact type activity was hand to hand combat training in the Marine Corps. I have thought about taking some martial arts type training.

    Dan wrote on August 31st, 2011
  35. For you women out there who may be intimidated by MMA/Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, check out my friend Cheryl’s blog:

    She is also a regular contributor to Yahoo! Sports:

    Cheryl LOVES MMA and trains hard. She is 53 years old, and trust me when I tell you this, because I train with her, she could EASILY pass for 35.

    pocopelo wrote on August 31st, 2011
  36. Love this post! I’m only about two months primal, and I joined a boxing gym last week. Very timely post for me. Thanks, Mark!

    Siyyad wrote on August 31st, 2011
  37. I have been doing various martial arts for over 25 years and I currently own a MMA school in Houston, TX. For anyone interested in getting a start in the martial arts, I would recommend starting at either a wrestling, judo, or brazilian jiu-jitsu club and then picking up muay thai and/or boxing as you progress. I prefer the grappling arts because you don’t have to take a punch or kick to the face, but to be completely well rounded, it’s important to learn the striking arts at some point.

    Josh Hill wrote on August 31st, 2011
  38. It’s funny because I have some friends and have met people with huge ego’s that avoid joining an MMA or boxing gym like the plague despite my heavy recommendations. It’s sad because I know they would have much more fulfilling lives if they got their butt’s kicked and had some fun and comradery at the same time, it does teach you very quickly to drop the whole higher than thou routine. People waste so much time putting others down and scurrying above anyone and everyone else trying to get to the social higher ground. Get over yourself and get in the gym, you of all people need it.

    One of my favorite things about MMA is being surrounded by these unbelievably nice, polite, respectful, uplifting, positive people….the kind of people who you would feel lucky to call your friend. It’s funny, there is a definite feeling of home and comfort when I go to the gym, I can let my guard down and just be myself. That’s another thing, through martial arts you will truly gain an understanding of who you really are, because you will be pushed to the edge almost immediately where you will have to make decisions that will give you insight into what type of person you are and more importantly if there is anything you would like to change or learn from and become a better version of yourself. Also I think MMA teaches us not to fear failure, failing is simply an opportunity to learn (assuming you always try to learn from your mistakes), those who avoid failure really limit their ability to get where they want to go.

    One more thing…… Jigoro kano the founder of Judo said he actually attained enlightenment through his development of the sport and realized many other benefits written about in detail in the Kodukan principles which you can find in Judo books and I’m sure online. Check it out

    I recommend everyone to give it a try whether it be Judo, Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, Wrestling, boxing, MMA, Karate, ect. Just pick one and go have fun, you won’t be disappointed.

    Shaun wrote on August 31st, 2011
  39. “Serious concussions occurred in 3% of matches, and no deaths or serious injuries occurred”
    This is on of the stupidest statements I have heard in a long time. A concussion is a serious injury dude. Also if xconcussions occur in 3% of bouts – how many bouts do you have to be in before you get one. A lot of injuries from martial arts are accumulative. Look up studies on the long term mental and physical health of boxers.(amateur and pro) Check out a few forums on martial arts and you will hear of a lot of kicking type martial artists who have had to have hip replacements in their 50’s and early 60s. (or maybe it was the total gym that did caused it in one case :-).
    I am not against martial arts but like any sport there are limits to how far you should take things.

    john wrote on August 31st, 2011

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