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

wrestlingIn 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. Great article Mark!! I’ve been practicing various forms of martial arts for years, i.e. kenpo karate, Brazilian jiu jitsu and muay thai. I’m by no means a master of any art form but have always enjoyed the physical, educational and mental benefits that training provides. As a larger male, 6’3” 220 lbs, and with basic knowledge of holds, strikes, and submissions I would have to say that there are very few people/situations that I’m afraid of.. or would be afraid to be in. Because of the training, I’m more confident, more aware of my surroundings, and more alert (not paranoid :P) to what could be considered dangerous. Now I’ve always been a low-key, extremely non-confrontational friendly kind of person so I would never turn to my training unless it was absolutely necessary.. 2nd or 3rd defense. The health/fitness benefits from such trainings are unquestionable. Though I’ve never been in a situation to be afraid personally, I got married a little over a year ago and now comes my big concern. My wife :) She’s beautiful, vivacious and sits at about 110 lbs on a fat day (I’m the only one who gains weight when she eats cookies.. so not fair!). We spend every moment we can together but that’s only about 4 hours a day because I’m at work. After we got married, my one demand of her was that she let me teach her some basic self defense techniques. Should she be in a situation where she’s confronted by a larger, stronger person, she could even the playing field by applying some very effective techniques. We’re starting a muay thai class together this week so I’m excited that she’s gained a respectful enthusiasm and desire to learn more. For the two of us, this is something that we can do and practice together and I don’t need to worry as much about her when I’m not around. Highly recommended for all!!

    beefStu wrote on August 31st, 2011
  2. I started Jiu Jitsu around the same time I started eating primal. I feel the “Jits” and primal eating really complemented each other well and I found one supported/motivated the other. Nothing I had done in years put my physical fitness to the test like Jits. After classes I feel good and it sure does boost the confidence, even if I get tapped out the whole class. Other advantages I have learned are energy conservation and trying to think and make decisions under stress.

    Rob wrote on August 31st, 2011
  3. Judo has changed my life for the better both physically and mentally. It stresses full body workouts very primal in nature. It can also be practiced at full force without risk of serious injury, if done so properly. Learning how to fall or be thrown properly is a skill that everyone should have. Thanks for the great post Mark!

    Steve wrote on August 31st, 2011
  4. Hey People!

    So I realize that a large portion of us may be on a tight budget, but here is a group effort thing that might work.

    1. Get together with a group of your closest friends (and some of theirs) it all depends on how big you want the group, I suggest anywhere below 12 people.

    2. Start a fund for floor mats and sparing gear, you don’t have to have individual gear it is a group project after all. (My group sticks to MMA gloves and mouth guards, if you want less ouch I would suggest getting more padding everywhere).

    3. Establish safety rules, and make sure there is no doubt as to how far anything should go. Here’s a basic lay out of the rules I use.

    1. You do not talk about… (just kidding)
    1. We’re here to have fun, so take part in a productive way.
    2. We’re not out for blood, so take it easy.
    3. Fights are not personal.
    4. Only one fight at a time.
    5. There is a maximum of three fights per person.
    6. Stop means stop.
    7. Any medical bills are covered by both contenders.
    8. There will be no: elbowing, head-butts, kicking, shoe-wearing, bone breaking, full-force swings, no partners or pre-arranged matches, no biting, no weapons combat unless its LARP night (so geeky but a must try).

    4. Ask anyone in the group if they have some type of martial arts experience…well a decent one enough to teach you proper technique so you don’t sprain anything.

    5. Dive in and have fun, try your moves and find out what works best, you’d be amazed how quick you catch on!

    So that’s about it, I do it with a whole bunch of primal enthusiasts and we have a blast. We kind of made it a big deal not to seriously injure each other and the worst we’ve had are a few sore noses. Yes, we also have girls that do this with us. Some girls feel more comfortable fighting only girls while others love trouncing our guys. Hope this helps!

    Gregory Karpovics wrote on August 31st, 2011
  5. When I was younger I was heavily involved in martial arts. I loved sparring most. I don’t do Tae Kwon Do anymore, due to time constraints and other commitments, but I now fence. I’m in the SCA where we use heavy rapiers and fence in the style of back-alley brawls rather than “sport” fencers. At least once a week I practice. It sharpens the mind, reflexes, and body. One has to be in good shape to participate, especially in the Florida summer!

    Lena wrote on August 31st, 2011
  6. No I am not cynical. I am using my brain. The whole philosophy behind Primal does not make sense. What people ate 10,000 years ago, is a guess, and it doesn’t tell us how we should eat now. The idea that our DNA can only handle what cavemen ate, is a ridiculous assumption and not based on scientific fact. If you just take the time to think this whole thing through., you will come up with the same conclusion I did. It doesn’t make sense.

    Jeremy wrote on August 31st, 2011
    • what you’ll find is the exact opposite. The most up to date science supports a diet free of refined, modern foods as being optimal for health.

      Guess who survived without Lunchables 10,000 years ago, exercised regularly, sprinted once in a while, limited unnatural light for healthy sleep and ate whole foods?

      Our modern technology, applied scientifically, supports these habits. Mark calls it primal, but its up-to-date, current research.

      fitmom wrote on August 31st, 2011
    • Jeremy, there are plenty of comment threads on this site as well as a forum to take this particular topic up but surely you’re aware that THIS one is about “The Role of Fighting in a Primal Life”. What you are doing is called “hijacking a thread” by changing the topic. Just imagine doing it in actual company, it’d be rude there and it’s rude the same way here.

      Nick Lo wrote on September 1st, 2011
  7. I am referring to the high fat/no grains part mainly.

    Jeremy wrote on August 31st, 2011
    • Be cautious, because the people on here aren’t following some flavor of the month trend. This is our lifestyle. It’s what we live and breath by.. and after actually giving it a shot, swear by and base that conviction on our own facts. It’s like me coming into your house and telling you that you don’t know how to raise a family. you might be doing everything the right way and be very happy with the results.. but along comes this uninvited character to tell you you’re doing everything wrong. That’s you son. You wouldn’t take too kindly to that would you? This is a place for people to discuss (not cut down) the Primal lifestyle and share their successes and failures to learn and grow together in the name of good health. Give it a shot.. some straying from the path of CW might do you some good.

      beefStu wrote on August 31st, 2011
  8. I took Tae Kwon Do as a kid and see that it’s still very popular for parents to enroll the pint-size set into neighborhod Martial arts classes. I like the discipline of martial arts and mixing exercise with competition.

    On another note, I’ve been involved with competitive table tennis for a few years, and guess what? You don’t need to have hand-to-hand fighting to get your ya-yas out. Any one-on-one sport will bring out the same feelings. I’ve seen hyper-competitive individuals, of both sexes, get very intense in a game, with the look of “I’m gonna mess you up!” while they are up at the table. It may seem funny to you, but believe me, it’s the same fighting mentality that goes on. We call it being competitive, but these people want to BEAT you, and get great satisfaction doing it. They also get addicted to it and need to compete frequently. (They are also often the ones who have no finesse game – just want to kill with that one slam shot down the throat.) Even the annoying but more common practice in tennis and now table tennis of yelling and screaming after a shot conveys that drive to beat someone.

    And anyone who has played one-on-one sports has experienced the stress, the adrenalin and excitement of meeting an opponent across the net or across the table. The feeling that you are about to enter into battle.

    So I see first-hand that all kinds of competitive activity can feed and satisfy the fighting spirit in us. Not just physically beating on someone.

    HillsideGina wrote on August 31st, 2011
  9. This is a really good conversation but i really question all these movie ish stereotypes about traditional people. Like men fighting over breeding priveledges and whatnot-there is no evidence that paleolithic people did things like this and it’s really an anthropological stereo type that cartoons and movies then went to town w/,I am sure that these stereotypes came from a civilized anthropological veiwpoint which is male and white supremist and mostly created to make people beleive that civilization is great and thank God we are civilized and not behaving like brutes. This attitude was used to justify the genocide of traditional peoples all over the world,. If you talk to actual folks,oral history keepers from traditional societies which have survived the genocide you will hear them speak about largely gender balanced societies w/ sophisticated methods of descision making. True we are talking about ancient people when we say paleo but they are not primates. They made art and had ritual and complex social structure, this we do know-they erected standing stones & earthworks, they understood astronomy. Please do some research and lay off the comix, especially if you are trying to emulate aspects of their lifestyle. All we need is some people who are thinking that these very healthy people who’s lifestyle we should emulate did these utterly macho things to attain control over non-consensual females. Like I said-no proof at all and destructive to perpetuate. Have respect for our ancestors and give them a little credit for being intelligent and compassionate.

    naali aelfgifu wrote on August 31st, 2011
  10. Brazilian jujitsu can give you a real taste of the experience of fighting;the in your face hard struggle, hanging in there and not giving up,you can get a taste of a real fight without all the damage,great for young and old,it’s tough,but that’s what you want right?.Since going primal,I’ve gone back to BJJ training after some years off…I’m loving it.BJJ makes me more vital not violent.

    David Colven wrote on August 31st, 2011
  11. I would also highly recommend martial arts classes for anyone with a child, usually a boy, who is fascinated with fighting and/or gets into fights at school. These little boys need that energy and those impulses to be directed, disciplined and addressed.

    Most often, boys like these are shamed and beaten down instead of redirected.

    Participating in a competitive sport has taught me that we are very different when it comes to competitiveness and aggression. Some need to compete and win, some can compete without winning and still feel good, some don’t need to compete at all and can be happy practicing with a partner without playing games.

    Those with children in little league and such can see the differences as well, but many parents don’t recognize that the differences are okay. They want their kid to be the ultra-competitive one and are ashamed when little Johnny or Mary just don’t care about winning or losing. Or on the other hand, some parents are embarrassed or frustrated by the hyper-competitive and aggressive child, wondering why their little Johnny can’t just enjoy playing the game win or lose. Our differences in regards to aggression or competitiveness need to be recognized and accepted.

    HillsideGina wrote on August 31st, 2011
  12. I took my first MMA class on Monday. I’ll be going back on Friday. Twice a week balances well with my Systema training on Wednesday and CrossFit on Friday. Your article is very timely for me since I have been feeling that it is important to learn to fight.

    Von Allen wrote on August 31st, 2011
  13. I personally recommend training reality-based martial arts like Krav Maga. You get the physical release from training drills, conditioning, and controlled sparring…but it also addresses the psychological aspect of a real violent fight, should you ever encounter it. To reap the benefits of that socially acceptable release, while also preparing yourself to unleash the true primal survival instinct is the ultimate dose of focus and confidence (and I have also trained in several traditional martial arts).

    Aside from Krav Maga, there is another Israeli system called “Hisardut,” which translates to “Survival.” Though it is reality-based, it is a complete system, based on the techniques of karate, judo, and various aspects of MMA (so you get the traditional aspect too). There are not many certified schools in the U.S., but check it out anyway.

    http://www.dsjj-usa.com/?con=home

    Cheers!

    Griffin wrote on August 31st, 2011
  14. Great article, and so on the nose. I have dealt with violent people in the past, with none of them being “trained”. Combat sports do indeed reduce the overall feeling to act, because you know you can. This takes away fear, and fear leads to violence.

    My father boxed, but lived in a world where violence dominated, and as such, had to take part. It did help him survive. Me….I worked as a doorman, and I am very passive. But having that confidence was like an impenetrable barrier that stopped things before they happened.

    I still train, more for fun. I wrestle and do MMA. There are better guys in the gym. I loose more often than I win as their skill and stamina is better (for the moment!) It is a part of my life and I think will always be in some way.

    I will be rolling when I am 80 and beyond. I wish they would allow boxing back in schools, promote Judo maybe…we have little wrestling in the UK which is a big shame as it has died out…where do you think Catch wrestling came from???

    I have never been anywhere where dicks are tolerated, as they soon get put in their place. It is the best leveller (especially grappling) and you will be surprised on how much you will enjoy it.

    Ross wrote on August 31st, 2011
  15. Not to forget most plain vanilla phyisical sports.
    Organised aggression…

    Tony Dl wrote on August 31st, 2011
  16. I have participated in and taught classes in a very traditional, non-competitive martial art, Karatedo Doshinkan, for about 25 years. Personally, I’m not convinced that “fights” are useful in learning a martial art. They are useful if you want to fight. But that isn’t my goal. Instead, we work with each other to learn to apply our techniques and learn many kata. It is the flow, the combined softness and sudden power of the movements that I love. Yes, I suppose that if I had to, I would use what I know in self-defense. I hope not to ever have to do so…

    June wrote on August 31st, 2011
  17. Thanks for this article, Mark. I have found that this applies to sports like Rugby as well. Similar to your comparison of mma to boxing, Rugby has less serious injury than American Football (I played football through college and picked up Rugby after the fact). I notice that in the off season, I am more irratible and agressive overall. In season I will rip you face off on the field but will bake a cake for your grandma. I have often thought how well rugby fits into the context of Primal life (big surprise islander cultures are VERY good at rugby). Here is a typical rugby tournament…in sun all day, lots of low level jogging, occasional sprinting and some heavy lifting/wrestling. The best tournaments even serve lots of Primal foods like grilled turkey legs and steaks. :)

    Rugby Grok wrote on August 31st, 2011
  18. Interesting thought. I played rugby for a decade, and you see the same sorts of ideas there. It is a sort of battle, and there is a lot of physical contact. 90 minutes of aggression and release per week will make for calmer people. I used to bartend at the rugby bar, and would find that the rugby boys would only start fights (with each other, mostly) when they hadn’t had a game in a few weeks. Now that I have retired, I miss the contact and release that games brought me.

    Caroline Bull wrote on August 31st, 2011
  19. I have studied Kung Fu since I was 42 years old. (I am 60) and it had a wonderful ability to transform my self confidence. Not because I think I am some badass who could beat people up but because I learned about myself, my strengths and my abilities.

    When I first saw people in the class – mostly large men in black uniforms fighting – it frightened me. But after I joined the class I realized that when we spar with each other we are like puppies fighting. We are practicing to protect our pack. Watch a litter or puppies or kittens sometime.

    And I think Mark is right – fighting is something instinctual – directing that instinct into positive activities is helpful to children.

    And when people ask me if I have ever used my training I tell them 5 stories about tripping and falling in my 50s without being injured. :)

    Kungfumom

    Nancy wrote on August 31st, 2011
  20. I play football. I live in Australia, so I play Australian Rules football. It’s contact sport and needs a lot of skill and a lot of competitive sprit. Best of all, it’s something you do with your mates.

    wozza wrote on August 31st, 2011
  21. I’m a woman and I have been doing Wing Chun Kung Fu for over a year now, and I absolutely love it. For me the most important part of a martial art is how practical it is (rather than spiritual or focused on technique), and Kung Fu is perfect for that. We don’t do any hardcore sparring in my class (still a beginner) so I can’t comment on how much aggression I’m getting out, but when you do intensive training for two hours, 2-3 times per week, often with bodyweight techniques, you definitely feel stronger, and that helps in every aspect of life.

    Anna wrote on August 31st, 2011
  22. 1. Exchange martial arts for “physical activity” in the post and it would be the same. People engaged in MA, and thus decreasing their aggressions, might be people who find other sports boring. I.e. its not the martial art per se that decrease aggression.

    2. Just because our ancestors had to fight to survive does not mean it is in our nature as Homo Sapiens. It more seems the other way around: it is NOT in our nature since we deem violent acts towards someone else as a crime, regardless if the culprit is a trained martial artist or just a street thug. I do believe that Grok saw acts of violent towards his kin/family as something unacceptable.

    Mark, you are loosing it. Recently you said wheat is ok despite the high carbohydrate (need I remind you about your concept of Primal Blueprint food issue, avoiding high carbs?) and now the violent/martial arts beeing primal since “a lot of my readers e-mail me asking about it”.

    Stay true to yourself and dont alter your convictions because “your readers ask you about it and hence you need to incorporate it as primal”.

    Thomas wrote on August 31st, 2011
    • I’m inclined to agree with both of these main points. Also, I think we need to be careful when making statements such as the one posed in the article: “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.” Fighting for food could be seen as self-defense, if it’s a life-and-death situation. The same is true for fighting for territory, if you’re looking for physical security. However, it’s a huge leap to equate those situations to martial arts, in which many modern competitions are geared towards self-promotion and glorification rather than defense.

      Martial arts do have their place, but as some have alluded to already, not all martial arts are created equal. Some martial arts (as commonly practiced) are noncompetitive and stress mental, as well as physical discipline… whereas some others don’t. With our utterly hectic and polarized society these days, I think it’s important to emphasize mental and physical balance. After all, people are extolling the virtues of martial arts as a stress release to try to regain balance (stress release in itself improves mood and self-esteem). While this sounds great in theory, there is a point beyond which it’d be more beneficial to remove the stress inducers, instead of simply resorting to a coping mechanism. “Human aggression” isn’t all genetic; environment has an immense role to play.

      Neil wrote on August 31st, 2011
    • Show me where I said wheat is ok. Never said it.

      Mark Sisson wrote on August 31st, 2011
      • Sorry Mark, I meant Oats. (Mixed the english words up – non native speaking).

        Thomas wrote on August 31st, 2011
    • This guy is scrub Mark. I think the closest thing you said to wheat being okay is that some cultures have found ways to mitigate the negative effects.

      Alex McKenna wrote on September 1st, 2011
  23. Thanks Mark, this article is great! I train in Kung Fu and love the confidence and strength it gives me. It is my life saving device in so many ways. I also have friends in the MMA and it is good to see you put them in a positive light when so many others do not. :o)

    Kitty wrote on August 31st, 2011
  24. For MMA training, definitely research the place and meet the instructors. Tiger Schulmann’s is on the east coast, and my particular experience was a little disappointing. I loved training, but it became very obvious that the Sensei cared more about money than actually teaching. Think learning how to brawl instead of actual martial arts….. and defense was not taught until after sparring, which seems a bit backwards to me. Just my opinion though. I would like to know how to NOT get hit first, then work on HOW to hit. However, I got a lot out of my training and will continue, but somewhere else.

    Andrea wrote on August 31st, 2011
  25. This is my first visit to the website and what a great article. I have studied various martial arts for 10 years. It helps my mental focus and fortitude, physical fitness, cardiovascular fitness (aerobic and anaerobic). However, above all else, it helps focus my aggression and has increased my self confidence, in life and business!

    Chris Collins wrote on August 31st, 2011
  26. Capoeira

    Riaan Schuld wrote on August 31st, 2011
  27. I know that wrestling with my girlfriend upon finding a cleared zone of grass while on a walk is one of my favorite things to do.

    Tyler wrote on August 31st, 2011
  28. I’ve been doing Ju-Jitsu for just over three and a half years. I am currently training for my Black-belt. I personally agree with the statement about how Martial arts training can help to release stress and help un-load some of that agression! I used to be a bit of a wild-child but Martial arts calmed me down, even my friends say i’m not the person I used to be, in a good way. Plus it gives you confidence and decrease’s the desire to prove your self to other people. You know you can stand up for yourself with out having to act. It’s all about the drive to improve yourself, thats the key. Keep pushing for self improvement and you’ll get there. PEACE!!!

    Jason wrote on August 31st, 2011
  29. Just something else to chuck in the mix. Aswell as traditional martial arts. Check out Krav Maga. Its a form of self defence that has been proven on the battle field. I recommend Krav Maga to any Man, Woman and Child. Krav Maga Global and Krav Maga Worldwide.

    Carl wrote on August 31st, 2011
  30. Be careful of MMA gyms. Make sure they teach individual disciplines and then combine them together. Schools that teach “UFC” or “MMA” with out a wolid BJJ, Muay Thai, or something else aren’t worth the money.

    Rich wrote on August 31st, 2011
  31. Here is a simple truth for you: The only people who are pathologically violent are…pathological people.

    Lots of nice people study martial arts, watch war movies, collect knives, guns etc.

    The people with mental or emotional problems are the ones causing trouble. Mark is talking about consensual bouts with a partner. That way there is no victimization.

    Jeff Tabor wrote on August 31st, 2011
  32. I’ve been doing various martial arts for more than 30 years. The last 17 or so in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
    I love it because you are able to grapple at nearly full speed without any significant danger of injury when training with another practitioner. No other martial art feels as much like a real fight in practice. I have had ample opportunity in my life to use what I have learned. But what I find now at my age,(49), I still love a good scrap! …in training, not on the street. I know that may sound immature. But jiu jitsu has the amazing ability to “right-size” you. What I mean is, it feels great to “tap out” a younger, stronger man, but getting tapped out keeps you from becoming delusional about how tough you are.
    A beautiful, physical chess game …trying to force your opponent to make a mistake and then capitalizing on it with an arm or leg-lock or choke, …very cool!

    Gonzo wrote on August 31st, 2011
  33. I have to admit I am very uncomfortable with this topic. As a former victim of domestic violence, I eventually helped found a shelter and was on the board of directors for many years. I realize that the most aggressive and neurotic of our species, were the ones to pass on their genes, but can we evolve now, pulllease.

    rose wrote on August 31st, 2011
  34. What about that greatest of contact sports that you can actually play for your whole life, RUGBY. Almost every state has rugby clubs from coast to coast. Greatest workout known to man. 80 minutes of sprinting, tackling, jumping, passing, kicking, pushing and pulling. Primal at its finest, minus the beers, but carbs are okay directly after a match to help push protein into the muscles :) Check out USARugby for a club near you!!

    Daniel wrote on August 31st, 2011
  35. If you want to learn real self-defense, study Krav Maga
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krav_Maga.

    Not much sparring until you get more advanced, but as a beginner you do plenty of work hitting pads and bags. Great workout and stress reliever. Some places even have Crossfit gyms associated with them – like mine!

    Chris wrote on August 31st, 2011
  36. I started Tai Chi and Kung Fu about 12 years ago. I immediately noticed an improvement in my short temper and tendency to get irritated at my kids. Our school doesn’t teach sparring, but some of us practiced and competed on our own a few years ago. I didn’t really notice much difference between that practice and practicing forms and two-person techniques in class — but I’m a 56-year-old woman with not much need to clobber people. Nevertheless, the overall practice of martial arts has been of great healing benefit to me.

    Margi P wrote on August 31st, 2011
  37. If anyone is interested in a good martial arts site, Sherdog is good, but I would recommend http://www.bullshido.net a great resource for helping you pick an art and place to train wherever you are.

    Josh wrote on August 31st, 2011
  38. I’ve been taking a women’s kickboxing class for the past several months. Starting this Friday, our class graduates to a full MMA class, complete with grappling – something we haven’t focused on. We will be training using the belt system, just as the men’s class does. The training has made me strong, confident, less stressed, and helped me realize something. Health and strength are more important that if I look like a super model. I’m happier and more fit than I’ve been in years. I drive 60 minutes each way to my academy – I love the program and my trainer (I guess Sensai now) that much.

    Mandie wrote on August 31st, 2011
  39. I wrestled for four years in high school, and it has made me who I am. I learned discipline, hard work, and what it means to accomplish. Although participating in wrestling competitively is not the healthiest choice (i.e. cutting ten pounds in one night), there has been nothing as satisfying in my life as winning a tough match. What a lot of people do not understand is that wrestling is a sport of control, not aggression. I definately agree that controlled “violence” is a healthy outlet.

    Alex McKenna wrote on August 31st, 2011
  40. Great Post Mark.

    I think the connection between mind and body is lost in modern approaches to exercise (there’s nothing more mind numbing than running on a treadmill in the confines of four walls if you ask me).
    I’ve found however, just like you’ve said, that being involved in ‘fighting’ type activities is a great way of training both mind and body (plus all the other characteristics…focus, determination, mental toughness etc. which are developed along the way).

    Keep up the great articles

    Isaac Warbrick wrote on August 31st, 2011

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