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.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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274 thoughts on “The Role of Fighting in a Primal Life”

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  1. I took a few “self-defense for women” classes. I enjoyed it. I was surprised at how hard women could hit. It did help me feel less depressed about being assaulted, and less vulnerable. The problem was, the classes were very far away from my house, and they were not offered very frequently. There didn’t seem to be much demand for them. I’ll look into the MMA thing.

    1. The unfortunate fact is that most women take these classes AFTER an assault happens. I have trained some Jiu Jitsu and very basic Muay Thai, and my confidence levels increased tremendously. It is the little things, like being aware of your surroundings more. I don’t see myself being able to de-arm a huge man holding a knife, but I am confident that I wouldn’t allow that man to come that close to me without being aware of the danger about to ensue.

      1. The really sad part is that just taking a class like this can act as a deterrent to would-be attackers. You start carrying yourself differently and are less likely to be seen as a potential victim. I’ve been told I’m “intimidating” and I credit taekwondo in high school.

      2. Unfortunately in my case, I had been doing sanda and Muay Thai for years, and under the influence of alcohol, I was still unable to prevent my sexual assault. It actually destroyed my confidence in the ring (I was training for amateur fights).

        I only say this because while I still think martial arts classes will benefit women tremendously, I don’t want there to be an unreasonable expectation that you will be able to avoid confrontations. Your best defense is still to run away from any fight.

    2. Great article!

      I have been doing various martial arts for years. Growing up in Detroit and working in a jail I have had many chances to partake in violence. I have found that with a reasonable amount of training most of the fear of a fight is gone. This allows you to make a smart choice. Untrained people attack before it is necessary out of fear.

      If you people decide to take a new class go to a bunch of different schools and interview the instructors. Find an instructor with the same goals as you and jump in!

      1. Confidence is the number one thing I got from martial arts in my youth. Going though high school was less stressful when I did not have to worry about being beat up easily. Many, many people wanted to pick on me for being the biggest kid there, but it was bad for them all.
        Later, I learned various techniques of BJJ in the Army and have been a proponent ever since. I don’t like to fight, but I do enjoy sparring with a friend. There is something to be said about knowing your limits and them knowing theirs and learning together.

    3. youth karate programs are pretty good. As a black belt, if i had the opportunity to train all over again, i would do boxing striking ( no competition until 18) and BJJ and wrestling training while young. I would also have a course on the arts overall, strengths and weaknesses as well. BJJ is king though. A great “karate” school (they are all different and use karate as a blanket term) can def include weapons training (the most fun) grappling and striking. if they dont do all of it, they are missing pieces.

    4. violence against people by people is pathological, and useless, training for this agenda is foolish and egotistical.
      typical of jocko meatheads to believe that their superior physique will save the day… mostly their belief in their skills gets them into trouble, or they harm a loved one in a little “domestic fun” the fighting our ancestors did in the paleolithic world was against animals… bear, saber tooth tiger, wild dogs… this was a fight for your life not some wrestling match with your “buddy”… its so odd how people equate
      their personal aptitude with their battle outcomes, or their martial arts skills against immaginary opponents, when in real life the battles include all men women and children in a do or die struggle, instead of a martial arts class why not just start a neighborhood watch?

      1. @ aaron, why not start a neighborhood watch and be armed to the teeth with self-defense and community defense skills rather than deal with a crazy (or crazies) who could be trained in these or similar arts yourself? I’ve trained with a team of local navy SEALs, sparred, weapons trained (police batons, all sorts of knives, guns etc). Opened my eyes to some crazy tactics and, being a young “tough guy” at the time (22 at the time) its like seeing the worl through a different lens, one where you arent invincible. my friends will tell you I dont start fights, but rather can confidently diffuse situations (and am looked at to do it). I train my gf, she knows basics and can actually though a mean headbutt for a 110 lb girl (not to mention knows to go for the nuts over and over). That could save her (she goes to Temple U, and its not pretty down there) You seem extremely negative to it, have you had instances where violence was a big issue?

        1. Hey, I go to Temple U too! Yes I have seen several thugs with guns run loose all over my neighborhood. A student even got shot on my street. I am thinking of training at Daddis Fight Camps soon. Where do you train out of? PS: That Aaron guy is living in his own world and is not aware of the evil world that was our paleolithic ancestor’s and our current world today.

        2. Daddis Camps are amazing. Daddis is a highly trained fighter and he has a highly specialized team. My trainers (Im in a 1 yr masters school that owns my time, me and a buddy mix it up like 1 time a week independently). I’ve trained under Carlos Aldrete, formerly of Premier martial arts in Havertown (very good weapons and self-defense instructor, connected to amazing trainers, brown belt BJJ, master of many kung fu styles and kali, cert’ed in Krav, also very bright). I’ve boxed trained under Aldan Washington and in Upper Darby Gym, BJJ under Noah Spear of PLatoon Fitness in Bryn Mawr (best in PA period IMO for BJJ, won world championship). I highly recommend Daddis, IDK about their prices or budget, but you can learn alot from both the thai fighting there and the BJJ. Do what you can afford, I promise you will be addicted.

          For the record, I have a black belt in Mantis, can beat blue belts like 50% in BJJ, honorary 6th chord in capoeira (could spell wrong lol) and have just trained in a bunch of other arts and have a 1-0 ametuer record.

      2. Because a neighborhood watch isn’t fun? Face it: There is something hard wired into our brains. I mean otherwise, why would we take up martial arts? There has to be some element of enjoying it. And That’s there. I spar with my buddies all the time, and no one gets hurt. You’re either trolling, or you’re insulting people who are better than you at something because you tried and failed, or never even tried. Perhaps you’re sullen towards athletic types? Either way though, your comment is full of opinion driven fallacies.

      3. Ridiculous.
        1. direct results:
        Training in self defense develops the skills to maximize your chances of surviving an attack by another person. Too obvious to need to explain. “Failing to plan, is planning to fail”.
        Now, the real self defense skill is in target selection. Before you are attacked, you are selected as a victim. Lions don’t just run out into a herd hoping for the best. They watch, and select. They take the slow, and hurt, or sick. All predators are the same. Even, humans. They don’t just grab the next person that comes out of the mall. They look and watch. They hunt. They select targets. Sadly, you don’t have to be the fastest gazelle….. You just can’t be the slowest. Self defense training (under competent tutelage) should affect you deeply as a person. It should change not only your body, but your confidence as well. This….. This is the true self defense skill. Through proper training, you become a person less likely to be targeted as a victim. You become knowledgeable about how and why attacks occur and can minimize your chances of encountering them. In “grok” terms…. You learn which watering holes have predators and avoid them if possible. If unavoidable…. You make damn sure you’re ready, and alert. Make sense?
        2: Indirect results:
        really, these are the bulk of the results, as self defense is not actually as big of a concern. What…. A self defense instructor said what? You heard me. Not much of a concern. Cancer, diabetes, psychological distress…. All these things are a lot more likely to beat your ass than the dreaded “bad guy in an alley”. Training in realistic self defense helps it all. Changes your physical condition, gives you a reason to eat better, quit smoking, sober up, whatever. More people use our Academy as a launching pad for meaningful life changes, than for actual self defense! In the last 20 years of teaching, for every 1 person that tells me about a self defense success, 100s tell me about regaining control of themselves in some aspect. That’s real self defense. Protect yourself from the things likely to harm you!
        3: On animal psychology:
        All animals “play fight”. It’s not just pent up energy that they burn through. It’s bonding time amongst the pack/tribe. It’s learning about interpersonal psychology (read up on dogs play fighting and all the calming signals they use) during stress. It’s about learning how strong and tough you can be (sometimes it’s more than you realize). It’s about learning how fragile and beatable you can be (sometime it’s more than you think). It’s about a hell of a lot more than “self defense”. Dogs/cats are domesticated, but they still play fight as psychological development. Well, we are domesticated now too. But play fighting has been all but removed from our culture. We lack part of our development because of it. Through the years, I have seen the rediscovery of it utterly change peoples life.
        The fact that they can beat your ass is honestly just gravy.
        4. Surviving wild animals:
        (bit of a goofy topic but here goes)
        Animal psychology, and the predator/prey relationship is the same across all species. I am vastly more competent at handling dogs (another hobby) because of my knowledge. Even if it was gained from another species.
        2. All animals are remarkably more similar than different, being more skilled at dispatching one type absolutely carries over into another. A person who hunts one animal is not completely out of luck when faced with a new animal.
        All these ridiculous “could you survive a wild animal attack” are kind of pointless anyway. We didn’t survive as a species because we bested all others in a duel….. We outsmarted them. We learned to run, and think, and plan, and coordinate. We minimized our chances of being selected as prey, and maximized our chances of surviving if we were…. Oh, wait…. That’s kind of what I said earlier. Weird.
        By the way, before you say “better to run away”….. I agree.
        In my view, Parkour is an essential part of self defense. But that’s a discussion for another day.

        1. Excellent. The idea that MMA is going to stop a bullet is not the point Mark was making. I believe what he meant and what Jay expanded on is exactly on target. Self-awareness, insight, change in who we are from the inside out….spiritual? Maybe. Effective? You bet!

        2. An excellent explanation, Jay. I never knew about the calming signal when dogs roughhouse. I’m curious if humans do this subconsciously as well. It seems that my well-trained (martial arts, weapons training) friends have a ‘cooling’ effect in high stress situations. Maybe they are, in addition to being confident, giving off calming signals…

        3. Sea- People absolutely have calming signals. Look aways, contraction postures, not to mention the actual language used during escalation. Actually, the best time to see calming signals (just like in canines) is on the approach to a strange person to ask a question. They are actually very similar to dogs in that instance. Stopping at the edge of their personal space to show respect, softening of the facial features to show good will, raising if the eyebrows specifically to denote a “want”. Obviously, we’re verbal so we back our expressions up with “um…. excuse me…. I don’t mean to bother you, but….” all calming signals. Hell, hand shaking started as a calming signal. Baring the weapon hand shows lack of violent intention. Saluting….. The list goes on. Studying canine, and primate signals can actually go a long way in helping with human communication in escalated situations. All they have is signaling. We have words, and consequentially tend to lose our understanding of non verbal communication. Turn on those old wildlife shows….. They are psycological goldmines if you realize that
          1. All animals have more similarities in their signaling than differences. And,
          2. We are animals.

      4. Aaron, you really can’t see any reason to up your fighting skills even a little? I’m no mma fighter, but, knowing wrestling/Judo/and just hitting a heavy bag, gives me an edge over someone who may mess with my family. I’ve used my wrestling skills to help a guy while he was being attacked by a group of guys.

      5. The idea that our ancestors’ main hand to hand combat was for hunting purposes is preposterous. That is what weapons are for. Male-male competition is a biological imperitive that most species display, including our own. The fact is that in many modern hunter/gatherer societies violence/murder rates among males is significantly higher than in western countries (in some upwards of 50% of males die at the hands of other males). The idea of the peaceful “Noble Savage” is outdated and racist.

      6. Maybe because martial arts in today’s world usually isn’t about real life fighting? Mixed martial arts, boxing , and wrestling, are used as sports for people to compete against each other. If you’re going to criticize these sports you might as well criticize hockey, basketball, football, baseball, and all of the other sports. And no the fighting done by our paleolithic ancestors was certainly not only among animals. like almost all mammals they fought each other to handle disputes and achieve dominance. And martial artists are hardly “jocko meatheads” as you call them. When most people join martial arts it is as a sport, a form of exercise, or to defend themselves if they ever need to.I can’t even count the number of people I’ve met who decided to train martial arts because they were getting picked on, or had no confidence in themselves.After a couple of months training, they gain confidence. In all cases they were calmer, happier, and way more confident then they were before they started training. go to a shaolin monk temple one day to see all the “meatheads” there. I can absolutely guarantee you that every person there will be more respectful, more calm, and kinder then almost anyone you have ever met.

      7. Neighborhood watches aren’t always that great. They’re a joke, and they don’t bring down the crime rates at all. The best thing to do is to find something that piques one’s individual confidence, and go with that.

  2. I did judo in my childhood/teenager, it had a very positive effect. Looking forward to coming back to a dojo (most probably will do aikido)
    Thanks Mark for a nice article!

    1. I’d start to kneel regularly then – your ankle tendons have probably tightened since your teens and seiza will be uncomfortable until you have let them get used to the stretch.
      Plus us westerners spend less time kneeling than the Japanese so we are not as used to it in general.

    2. I take Aikido / Aikijujutsu and I love every minute of it. There’s something about being slammed into the floor that is so centering… I just can’t explain it. There’s no better way for me to burn off the stress from work than a good hour and a half on the mat.

      1. And by the way, I highly recommend Aikido (and even more recommend Aiki-jujutsu if you can find it). I get a lot of great exercise, have learned a TON about how to handle myself in a variety of dangerous situations, and the ukemi (the falling and rolling) is extremely useful for other grok-like activities, such as falling from a tree or rolling over a truck tire, etc.

        1. My entire family and I do Aikido as well. I definitely feel a lot more centered and calm when I go on a regular basis. I also like that it’s martial without being about winning or beating anyone.

  3. “blow up the comment section with advice on how one gets started with learning how to fight”

    I LOVE it!

    I’ve had thoughts of taking yoga classes and I probably will too. But, I must be honest, these last 2 posts make me want to dive into martial arts or boxing asap too!

    1. Actually some martial art systems offer Dao yoga alongside their other systems to develop flexibility. I do Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Dao Yoga, Qiqong and Qinna with my school.

      1. The karate school I went to also offered yoga for no additional charge. I should go back: no longer too broke to afford the membership fee

  4. What do you all think of violence on tv shows and movies? I am talking about the KILLING. I’m mixed. I love the action and it does not have a negative effect on me.

    But, I do think it has a strong influence on children and teenagers. There is no doubt in my mind until someone proves me wrong. How do we prevent the young ones from watching this stuff?

    It’s kind of like some rap music… talking about getting drunk, getting high, etc. Not a shocker that people who engage in these activities in high school and college also listen to this music. And, it leads to TERRIFYING VIOLENCE.

    1. To play devil’s advocate: what about the young people who watch those movies and don’t end up emulating what they see? My example: The Jackyl was my favorite movie when I was 12 (I had a thing for Bruce Willis). I’ve probably seen it several dozen times. However, I have never blown off Jack Black’s arm with a gun, no matter how obnoxious he gets 🙂

      Personally, I think it’s important not to shelter kids from violence in movies, video games, music, etc. There’s no way to isolate them forever. So how do you keep them from becoming monsters? By being a good role model, teaching them about consequences of their actions, stuff like that? And accepting the fact that maybe they might make some bad decisions…

      1. Crystal – exactly. You can’t child-proof the world – you have to world-proof your child.

        We all know the kid our freshman year of college that had been super locked down for their entire life, and once they get out on their own, they just explode.

        I don’t ever want to be the parent of that kid. I would much rather have them be tempered to deal with the world as it comes to them.

        1. You can’t child-proof the world – you have to world-proof your child.

          Awesome. Thank you!

        2. I like your saying also “you can’t child-proof the world – you have to world-proof your child.”
          I will definitely keep it in my mind as I raise my two young boys.

        3. I too love that sentence!! It sums up what I eventually found out by myself by the time I had my second child.
          And a big part of world-proofing a child is exposing her to physical confrontation in a controlled environment. That is how we lose our fear of physical engagement, and fear is the ultimate reason we strike first. Being (almost) fearless eliminates the aggressive response, by my experience.

          The temptation of wanting to “clean up the world” is there for any conscious parent, but the world is what it is by large majority and some people will always abuse when given the chance. So the answer is that exactly: help build the child to withstand reality. It is tough and can be very sad too (facing war / rape/ torture / famine / etc.), but I don’t see a realistic alternative.

    2. I teach my son to walk away first, just as my father taught me. This served me well for a long time, but there came a day where it didn’t. I have recently taught my son take-downs and various throws and some striking.
      You’re never going to make a perfect viewing experience for kids from TV, so teach them WHY it’s bad when something happens. Heck, I remember sneaking out of my room and downstairs to watch The Crow late at night. Talk about violent.

      By the way, I’m gonna use the comment posted here. “World-proof your child” that’s amazing. Thanks.

    3. Unfortunately it is a Reality point.

      What is real? How many of our children have seen a cow slaughtered. Realize that you have to pluck the feathers before you can eat a chicken? Food becomes a bit surreal to them. So to does the violence. Killing and warfare without consequences.

      I sat down one day with my son and went over some articles written by veterans about how they had a hard time dealing with the death they caused and saw in WWII. We talked about it and what it would mean to kill a man, I even used a movie line form a Clint Eastwood movie. “Killing a man is a hard thing you take away everything he is and everything he will ever be.” Go over a few examples on what that would mean to his friends or in his family and he gets it.

      Did my son stop watching violence, no. Does he glorify it now, no. Does he play soldier and cowboy, yes. Is he violent, no. Why? Because he was educated on the reality of it and now can play along with the fantasy and separate it from reality. Education on what is real is the answer, not banning the entertainment.

    4. Toad, you’re making big assumptions about the interaction between violence on TV and youth violence.

      The most glaring problem with your analysis is when you suggest that people who listen to rap music will engage in the behavior condoned by the lyrics. You neglect A) that the reverse could be true, namely that young people who engage in this kind of behavior identify with the lyrics and therefore listen to the music, and B) that the there is a significant segment of the population that listens to rap and *doesn’t* do this.

      Either way, it used to be rock ‘n roll that was destroying the nation’s youth… now it’s rap (and gays and the liberal media and atheists). Draw your own conclusions.

      Concerning TV violence, violent crime in the U.S. appears to be down with the peak being in the 90’s:

      Also, point #6 hits the nail on the head: Television violence has been steadily on the rise since the inception of T.V., so it does not correlate with violent crime. Recall that although correlation does not imply causation or identity, there can be no causation without correlation. QED.

      In any case, with regards to your question on how to prevent young ones from watching this stuff? Clean up your own front porch. Watch your damn kids.

      Data-driven analysis applies to just about everything — it’s not restricted to nutrition and exercise.

  5. I have participated in many different forms of martial arts including mma, boxing, thai boxing, bjj and jeet kune do concepts.

    I can definitely attest to the fact that practicing martial arts makes people less likely to get involved in any fights.

    1. 100% agree. Fantastic post Mark- loved it. Ive competed in MMA, BJJ and trained in Muay Thai and Boxing for a number of years and this kind of disciplined training undoubtedly reduces my tendency to get in street fights!

      Also just wanted to let you know at my BJJ school we have a number of avid followers of PB and your site Mark so thanks a lot!

    2. That’s true, Greg. Moreover, people who’ve either studied, or are studying any type of Martial Art(s) are less likely to be in a situation where they’ll be physically attacked or whatever, because Martial Arts can and does build up a good bit of confidence and awareness.

  6. I think an “acceptable” form of physical contact with other men (speaking as a man) is a huge benefit of sports/martial arts. I don’t believe in training that is based in fear or aggression, though. I find Systema to be a good blend of “real” contact while training the body to be relaxed and calm.

    1. I will attest to that as well Jim. I have been taking Systema for almost a year now. Sure we pound on each other in training, but there’s a lot more going on. To those of you who don’t know, Systema is a Russian art, and focuses aroung BREATHING. Sure there’s some hitting and kicking, but overall, it’s very fluid. I’ve taken several arts before, and this one is the best. It’s almost like yoga. You learn where you hold tension, and how to deal with your own fear. You get a very primal inter-perspective as you learn what makes you tick. It’s a great art, but not easy to find.

  7. I know this is not any kind of martial arts but I played football in high school just like a huge number of kids do every year. It provided me an outlet for a lot of pent up aggression but that was not the best outcome of my participation.

    I was a part of a team doing battle together. Every Friday night we would all suit up in the same colors and fight a trench warfare and there was a victor and a loser, every night we played. I hit people, got hit, fought for my friends beside me and we won and lost together. Those lessons I learned on that field will carry with me for the rest of my life. I think there is something primal about that and it just felt right. It is different then playing basketball or baseball, I did both, because of the contact. There was something at stake on the field and if you were not careful you would get hurt. I think its important to learn those lessons as a human.

    1. Glad you wrote about football here. As a woman, I’ve never played football, but I’ve seen the value of it in my son’s life.

      There is a comraderie between him and teammates that I think must be akin to fellow warriors in battle. I watch him and his team gather on the field and literally ROAR at each other, to get pumped up for the game, and I know there is something deep and primal and very needfully masculine in these rituals for him. He is, by the way, a gentle, loving and nonaggressive young man off the field. He actually plays three sports (football, basketball and track) and he admits to me that he feels edgy and caged when he is between sports. But I think my son would agree that football is different somehow.

  8. If you want to learn combat skills and have the opportunity to compete, but you don’t fancy getting punched in the face (or want to work your way up to it), Brazilian jiu-jitsu (“BJJ”) and catch wrestling are both competitive sports in themselves and foundational skills for MMA and unarmed combat generally.

    Moving on:

    Violence on an individual, personal level is something we’ve been dealing with for millions of years. Our role models, our stories of heroism, are all about individuals or small groups. It’s still coercive violence…but it’s coercive violence that we’re evolutionarily prepared to deal with.

    In contrast, institutional violence cannot be confronted on an individual level. The State can and will destroy you without a thought if your existence becomes sufficiently inconvenient. War, famine, slavery, genocide…the death toll of ‘civilization’ is incomprehensible.


  9. Let me put my two cents in for training in a traditional martial art. I’ve been involved in karate for over 20 years. Many styles minimize contact to the head (which makes fighting less realistic but is probably a plus for long term brain health) and attract a different group of people than MMA gyms. I blog about eating paleo while training in karate ( if anybody’s interested.

    1. Sounds cool. I’ll definitely check that out. I’ve been trying to square up my training with the Primal lifestyle for awhile. It would be awesome to see how someone else approaches it.

  10. Nice post. The Gracie Brothers have a Jiu Jitsu program that teaches kids to be “Bullyproof” and it focuses martial arts techniques that build confidence. Bullys will observe the confidence in these kids through their demeanor and attitude and likely pick another victim.

    If they do chose to engage a kid who has gone through this training, they will likely regret it.

    My own son was confronted by a bully at school after training with these guys and let’s just say nobody he won’t be bothered again.

    Sean – SkinnyFitness

  11. I fight in Systema, which is an ancient Russian martial art. There are lots of schools around the US and Canada. With the modern form of it being headquartered out of Toronto. I tried different martial arts and liked it the best b/c it covered things that I thought were truly beneficial. Plus, if you walk into a school and see only special forces and swat team guys, you figure out quickly that you are in the right place. There is no cheesy belt level or kata to memorize. Most of the class is one on one or one on group fighting. As a beginner, I tried a few arts and it was the one that was most welcoming and easy to get started with right away.

  12. I’ve been training in Karate for awhile now, and I’ve had the privilege of working with some respected instructors from other styles. The one thing I’ve noticed is that the best fighters are also some of the kindest gentlest people I know. The hotheads generally don’t last long, so that may be part of it, but I’ve met people who are, if you see them fight, terrifying, but you’d never suspect that if you met them in everyday life. I’ve been trying to figure out what causes that Sensei effect. I originally thought it was dure to release of aggression, but that isn’t it. I’ve met people who fight a lot but are still aggressive. My current theory is that once you reach a certain level of combative efficiency, it satisfies your ego and removes you from the social dominance games. Basically, you have nothing left to prove. Not sold on that theory either, but it’s the best I’ve come up with so far.

    1. > The one thing I’ve noticed is that the best fighters are also some of the kindest gentlest people I know.

      I agree with that. My current sensei is about 5-foot-6, skinny as a rail, and just a nice person, but she can throw a 300 lb. guy across the room. She can also move like lightning with a bokken (wooden samurai sword).

      1. Totally agree. We made friends with a lovely couple a few years ago (at an antenatal class). The husband/Dad was the sweetest, most generous, nicest and straight-up guy you could meet.
        He was special forces.

        I can’t imagine him ever picking a fight with anyone – he had nothing to prove to anyone.

        Sadly, he was killed in Afghanistan just a couple of weeks ago. 🙁

      2. You wouldn’t happen to live in GA and your sensei wouldn’t happen to be Mary Giles would she? I’ve been told that she kick ass 😀

      3. You wouldn’t happen to live in GA and your sensei wouldn’t happen to be Mary Giles would she? I’ve been told that she kick ass 😀

        1. Yes, I live in Atlanta, GA, and Mary Giles is my sensei. She does kick ass, and she’s a very nice person, too.

    2. I think a big part of it is that once you are really, truly formidable, you no longer have any need to posture and pose or threaten to keep people from starting violence with you. You also, presumably, have had a chance to learn that every fight is a real risk of injury or death no matter how good you are (you could always mess up, or trip, or the other guy could just be faster than you), and would prefer to avoid it if possible, because it’s not abstract to you, it’s a real, possible consequence of violence.

      So I think it’s basically a combination of the confidence and “aura” if you will of formidability that comes with mastery, and a greater understanding of consequences that leads to a calm demeanor and an aversion to unnecessary violence. Just my $0.02.

    3. I’ve noticed this, too. The big burly guys look formidable, and can be…but there are tiny little ladies and awkward shy teenagers and meek-looking middle aged men who can kick ass six ways to sunday. And you’d never know it, seeing them on the street.

      1. This is something that messes up the observational studies as well. Since hotheads don’t have the discipline to do serious training, that fact that people who have been through training aren’t hotheads comes as no surprise.

  13. I studied Tae Kwon Do as a child, studied Aikido in college, and am now (at age 43) studying Shinkendo and Aikido. I can definitely say martial arts helps my mood and gives me a safe outlet for frustration and aggression.

  14. I trained at various forms of kick boxing and I played football in highschool and college. At 50 I took up Brazillian Jiu Jitsu and Judo and it has been the best athletic experience of my life. I have also run and lifted weights and I love to swim. I lift very little anymore but love kettlebells and body weight excersizes. Violence is a fact but more often than not I think it comes out of fear and martial arts reduces that fear and produces confidence. I enjoy BJJ and Judo more than striking because there is more thought involved, it seems to me. There is also a bond that forms with my training partners. We may choke each other but we do not intentionally ever hurt each other, just the opposite, we try to learn from each other and this is another positive result of that controlled violence.

  15. i spent the last 25 years or so training in various martial arts. and while i have let that part of myself go recently, i do maintain that the martial arts do provide a constructive avenue to release aggressive instincts. that being said, i dont really feel that we “need” systematic training systems to feed the “need” for violence or aggression. any pursuit that allows us to be aggressive even if momentary can work. i’ve found that tracking and bow hunting work just as well. so does hunting hogs( im from texas and yes, we run down wild hogs here. sometimes with dogs and sometimes without. it’s awesome). anyway, we can look to animals for clues to our own nature. they all wrestle and fight especially when young. i think it’s good to have a firm foundation of solid combat skills under your belt in case of an emergency, but running away is just as valid, if you can. fighting for real is, most of time, one of the stupidest things we could ever do. self defense? absolutely. ego defense? good way to get yourself killed, and then what happens to your family? i’d rather run away and grow old with my wife than stand toe to toe, get stabbed or something and die. bruce lee was right when he said that 99% of the marital arts is bullshit.

  16. What is your goal? Is it just for fitness or do you want to learn to defend yourself?

    Sports fighting and Self-defense are not the same and require different skills.

    The skills you need to defend yourself from social violence are different than the ones you need for asocial violence.

    Know what you are learning, don’t confuse learning sport fighting with learning to defend yourself.

    Some good websites and interviews.


  17. and yes the sensei affect is real. ive had some great ones that were mean as hell but most of them were extremely kind in private. just had to know them. but it does come with killing the ego. ego death is crucial to ANY kind of skill in the martial arts beyond superficial gymnastics. and i believe that the spiritual aspect of marital arts (if it did not originate in the wu dang mountains) really only became part of the systems AFTER buddhism came to china and fused with taoism to become chan or zen(japanese). warriors realized early on that a calm mind and a defeated ego lead to great battle skills and zen is all about stilling minds and killing egos. the two do flow together. although i feel a flow of something when i know my arrow hit its mark. it’s all relative!!!!!

  18. I am a professional MMA fighter and I can say that martial arts has changed my life. I do agree that there is something primal about testing your skills and fighting spirit against another man. Also, I’ve seen studies that show the winner of a physical encounter receives elevated testosterone for a few days after (presumably b/c 100,000 years ago the fight would have been over breeding privileges with a group of females). And it’s true, you do feel euphoric for a few days after a decisive win. Not as much after a decision win though I’ve noticed.

        1. This is also true. Also, I’m in this round of the Bellator heavyweight grand prix.

  19. It’s ironic but true, fighting really does make you less aggressive for the most part. When you get in there and actually mix it up, you know your strengths and weakness. You don’t have to assume you have fighting skills because you know. You understand that even winning a fight can be very taxing both physically and mentally and that if you can avoid a physical confrontation, you will almost always be better off in the long run. I am actually shocked that more people don’t train in combat sports because you really get 2 for one: fitness and learning how to protect yourself/family. It’s very beneficial physically, mentally, and spiritually. I can’t recommend it enough. I think a lot of people are very intimidated about walking into a combat gym, especially men, because it is almost like admitting you don’t know how to take care of yourself. However, if you can swallow your pride, it is well worth it. I’ve trained in tons of disciplines and for beginners I would probably recommend starting in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It’s one of the few combat sports that allows you to spar/roll full speed and still go to work the next day…

  20. Dear Mark, i do some JJB from time to time. I would like to know , where do we place the JJB workouts, they are fairly intense, in a way, but also very fun to do. So if you could just tell us, if I do let’s say 4-8 hours a week, that’s 2-4 days, and do the primal workouts, i wouldn’t be forcing myself too much, would I ? Thanks

    1. You could use the workouts you already do as your base, throw in some strength specific workouts and you are set, even just 2 a week would be fine.

  21. A great place to get started is the Lions Den. Awesome people and fantastic trainers. I belong to the one in CT. Even professional fighters such as Ken Shamrock and Mikey Burnett stop by from time to time and teach.

  22. Its an interesting topic for sure. My two young boys love to wrestle and play fight with their dad (I would usually play too, but a preggers belly is getting in the way) and I often wonder if we would treat a daughter the same way…in my mind I would. I was a tom boy growing up and i believe that my parents ability to recognize that we all need to be active in that way made me a more well rounded women. I have other mom friends who wouldn’t dream of letting their daughters wrestle and play fight like my boys…its just not lady like!! Whatever is all I have to say!!

    To the point some are making about violence on tv and movies….this is where I have to say that Parents need to be PARENTS!!! Talk to your kids, know what they are watching and have discussion about those things. It doesn’t pay to hide it from them, they will find it anyway, its better to be involved!! Recognize that we are all human and learn how to act in the modern world!

    1. I have two boys and two girls, and I think our wrestling is about even between the boys and girls, and the girls are still as girlie as you can get (dolls, dresses, hair, etc.)

      They all like to dog-pile on Mom, I think even more than on me (I tickle back.)

  23. So Mark, how would you structure your carb intake if you were training in MMA, say at least one skill session per day and probably 4 good hard strength and conditioning sessions per week? (This would be probably be pretty minimal for some) I realize that every individual will be somewhat different but what do you think as a general guideline? Refer to “Primal Compromises for Athletes”????

  24. Hi, As a female who trains, Muay thai and BJJ, plus some olympic lifting, I can honestly say, it lifts your spirits, keeps you fit, and unlike almost every other physical activity has no boredom quotient… as an ex ballet dancer, I loathe sport and exercise… triathelons to me are 3 ways to be bored…. MMA is great, power, strength, flexibility and complexity. Most combat gyms are friendly and open, if not you don’t want to train there.. Brazilian jiu jitsu is one of the most complex activities to learn that there is. It takes up to 10 or more years to earn a black belt. That saying, injuries from BJJ are huge, constant knee or rotator cuff injuries. You get much fitter than doing most other activities. Yes there are the tattooed roid heads… but also plenty of normal people too… and muay thai is great as it means holidays in thailand at a fight camp… much more fun!

  25. Fighting is part of our fight or flight mechanism an an essential part of our psyche. Physicality is essential as well to overall well-being.

    Too often we are taught to “flight” versus “fight”. Talk to any WW2 vet (they are getting fewer and fewer so find one!) and they are all fight. Too much today we tell children and adults to “go get help” for their problems instead of “fighting” and solving it on their own.

    Time to bring the fight back.

  26. Good points… violence between humans is natural to us so we might as well do it in a safe context.

    I think there’s a lot of overlap between this topic and big game hunting, another violent activity we don’t engage in often yet we evolved with it. Arguably we probably had to hunt more often than we had to fight other humans.

    Regardless, I would wager that both of those fronts could be satisfied by controlled aggressive behavior like martial training. Maybe even some non-combat sports.

  27. I Love this Post!

    I recommend readin Yukio Mishima’s Sun and Steel. The guy may have had some personal hangups and weird politics, but he hit the nail on the head when it comes to combat sports. There is no truer way to confront the limts you place upon yourself.

    I’m trying to integrate the Primal BluePrint Fitness and Movnat type training of the 10 fundamentals into a weekly schedule. I do Judo/Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, stickfighting, bouldering, yoga, swim, lift heavy things, sprint….I’m busy but trying to streamline things. I think these two systems could meld together nicely.

    I think that the “defend yourself” element always gets pushed to the background…it may be the most integrative skill of all.

  28. My recommendation: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). Also known as “the gentle art” in particular, BJJ is a grappling / submission based martial art.

    – Practicality: BJJ has a proven track record of being a martial art that actually works. Check out this kid :

    – Reduced chance of injury: Since there is no striking, you can train BJJ at a high level of intensity without injury. Contrast this with striking-based martial arts. Injuries do happen, but BJJ has a built-in system to prevent them: you can tap out (in other words, you tell your partner “ok you got me”).

    – Complexity: It takes 8-10 years of hard work to earn a black belt in BJJ. There are countless moves and techniques. You will never stop learning.

    – Ego: You will not succeed in BJJ with the attitude that you are going to go out and beat everyone. It is an intensely humbling martial art.

    – Great for Kids: Check out Great program for starting kids in BJJ.

    – People: The BJJ community is full of amazing and dedicated people.

    Jiu Jitsu For Everyone:

    BJJ Tribute:

    1. I agree. I’ve been studying BJJ for around two years now and I can’t say enough good things about it. Since adopting the Primal Blueprint it’s really helped improve my Jiu-Jitsu game and increase my level of fitness.It also does wonders for increasing concentration and relieving stress.

  29. YES!!!! I’ve been waiting for someone in the mainstream to realize the value of martial arts training (specifically the realistic varieties)is the primal lifestyle! Glad to see it. As is usually true the blending of these ideas are not new, but certainly forgotten. Gorges Hebert (founder of the Natural Method, precursor to MovNat) included it way back when.
    I would encourage anyone following the Primal lifestyle to look specifically for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I could write an entire article on the physical and mental fulfillment of grappling as it relates to being Primal. As well as how we integrate those workouts into a complete lifstyle.
    Love your work. If you ever need a consultant to help with more fully integrating Martial Arts into the Blue Print, I volunteer!!!
    Jay Jack
    The Academy

    1. This guy knows what he is talking about: check out his personal fight record, lineage and students. I personally benefited from his insight and wisdom for a good few years. (he also writes a great blog).

      1. Small world! Don’t recognize the handle, but I’m glad you enjoyed your time with us. Thanks for the compliments.
        Jay Jack

  30. Martial arts has many more benefits than negatives, though there are negatives, just like anything else.

    I had an interest in MA since I was a kid. but never had opportunity. fast forward. youngest son is the ‘fat kid with thick glasses’ (his words, not mine) who gets picked last for all the teams. TKD classes gave him something he was the only one on his team. Win or lose, it was on him. (youngest kid also the one you do NOT want to piss off, because he has learned sneakiness from older siblings) He excelled at the sport, competitively and personally, and gained quite a bit from it. I started with him, not being one who can sit idle on the sidelines very well.

    I stopped training when pregnant (seems others more worried than I was and last trimester balance/center of gravity is totally screwy so….) and returned to earn rank of black belt, a personal goal I had set for myself.

    You gain: mental focus, physical focus, self confidence, fitness if you will actually put forth some effort in the training. And yes, I still love to spar. No, I didn’t do it to learn how to fight. because in the real world, if someone wants to hand you your butt, they won’t play by the rules. But in a tournament competition for sparring (or forms, for that matter) being twice your competition’s age, and taking 2nd place ain’t bad (on more than one occasion, too)

    discipline isn’t punishment. it’s doing what needs to be done.

  31. I would recommend Krav Maga. If possible train with certified instructors under Krav Maga Global (KMG) or International Krav Maga Federation (IKMF

    1. I’d second this suggestion. Krav Maga is an awesome combination of thoroughly (and pretty immediately) effective self defense and an awesome workout. I’ve been training for around 4 years and love it.

      The gym I train at blends in a lot of sparring (once you’re in level 2/3+) and there are also separate “fight classes” where all you do is spar if you’re looking for that. Nothing compares to standing up, face to face against someone who intends to hit you, and beating them to it.

    2. I’ll throw in a shout out to KM as well. It’s more of a street fighting/self defense system than a martial art, but it still comes with a lot of the side benefits – confidence, awareness, discipline, etc. If you’re looking for more of a sport, KM might not be the route to take, but if you’re looking for a great workout with practical, street-tested skills give KM a shot.

    3. Absolutely I recommend Krav Maga. If you are in the United States, however, what you are looking for is a Krav Maga Worldwide licensed school with KMW licensed instructors. There aren’t many KMG or IKMF schools in the US…

  32. As a veteran of the football field and a thrice-deployed war veteran I completely agree with the idea of controlled, purposeful, organized violence exercised within the bounds of “friendly” competition. As was stated above my high school football days provided me with a foundation of cooperation and team spirit mingled with a violent outlet. It gave me awareness of the exhilaration of direct physical conflict that can result in victory or defeat. Defeat and victory come as a result of the team and awareness of what the team is doing to take care of you and what you can do to take care of the team.

    As a Soldier that has served overseas and deployed into both theaters of combat I have seen the results of competitive violence. The incidents of “extracurricular” violence were significantly lower in sections/units that had some outlet for the soldiers to utilize. If that meant hitting the gym, so be it. But if it meant hitting each other, as long as it was done according to the rules and within the bounds of the “Fight Club” that was okay. Rank was thrown out, friends were no longer friends, and rivals were allowed to engage each other in the raw competition of physical struggle. It was liberating, knowing that you could hit, wrestle, and exhaust your opponent once a week, and knowing that there would be no retribution, just the single act of one-on-one combat. Combat related violence was lower, there were fewer incidents of people hurting each other, people that participated were more likely to become friends, less likely to suffer from irrational outbursts, less likely to suffer from depression, and were more likely to take care of their bodies so that they could be better prepared to engage in combat the next week. It enhanced mission readiness across the board, and the people that participated were more ready than those that didn’t.

    The point is, conflict and physical aggression within the bounds of the sport are perfectly natural and perfectly good for you. The benefits are almost too many to list.

  33. I would love to have the chance to get into some form of defense or martial arts – I think it would help out with the confidence, especially living in the #1 most violent city in the country.

    The problem? Things martial arts all seem cripplingly expensive in a city where you’re lucky to have a minimum wage job. Any suggestions on how to get in on self defense or fighting arts when you’re just barely making ends meet?

    1. Find a gym that you are interested in try to meet with the gym owner. Explain to him your money situation and tell him/her the amount you are limited to spend for the month. Some owners might consider allowing you to clean the gym or mop the mats to make up the rest of your monthly fee. After you learn some of the basics of the art, you might be able to trade some time helping with children’s classes for some of your monthly fees. It’s a long shot but worth a try. The bigger commercial type gyms will probably be less likely to help ya as opposed to a smaller, more personal gym as ironic as that seems…

      1. Also try College, Churches, and municipal recreation centers. Some have clubs you can join with very reasonable prices.

  34. Extreme video game and movie violence is desensitizing. You experience that violence in an insulated way the retards your ability to empathize. If punch you in the face I have to witness the your pain first hand. If cut your head off in a video game we giggle, fist bump and go get another round of beers.

  35. Brilliant. We’ve taken self defense (krav maga) classes at two different schools and just enrolled in a new one Monday night. It’s a great workout and great stress reliever if nothing else.

  36. Learn some basics on youtube and do them on your own. I shadow-boxed and learned how to throw some nasty kicks over the years, but recently joined a club where I can utilize my fullest potential! DISCIPRIN!

  37. I have experienced many forms of exercise, and I’m no stranger to pushing my limits, but nothing on earth comes close to the level of exertion of a grappling match on the ground. Many times I have been unaware of how hard I was working until nearly passing out. Bipedal sparring is a close second.

    So I agree that “fighting”, in the way that lion cubs tussle, is very good for you indeed. Aggressing against others, especially when paid or commanded to do so: not so much.

  38. Do it! Do it! Do it! It does not really matter what style you train in. Just pick a reputable instructor and dive in.

    Its fun. Its working out with a purpose. It trains your mind as well as your body. Just like any other endeavor, once you get into it. You will start by picking the art. Then the art will pick you.

  39. This is pretty much theoretical discussion.
    I have been involved in Martial Arts for a long time including, Muay Thai, MMA and JKD. I love these sports, but they have very little to do with healhty living if done seriously as the number of injuries is overwhelming. They may build a character, fitness or relieve the stress but getting involved in full contact combat sports means paying with your health – full stop. On the other hand some dilluted KungFu class or so called self-defense classes will not help you to defend yourself – they may just get you killed. Being able to defend against assault on the street mean YEARS of proper full contact training in full contact sports and even then the success is not guaranteed. Thinking differently is delusionary (just read one of the Marc Animal books). The best self-defense for a regular guy who is after healthy life style is avoidance and awareness.

    1. Dude. You don’t need to go balls out full contact to have fun training. You also don’t have to go starting fights just because you train martial arts. I have been training for 20+ years and I am healthy, fit and am still having fun training JKD, Eskrima, Boxing, BJJ…..

    2. Agree. The people I know who have done martial arts for years have a lot of injuries. And, I also know people who have trained for years and still don’t feel as if they could win a street fight, especially against guys with weapons. In my ‘hood, the attackers are armed with pistols. It would be stupid to try to fight one of them.

    3. Amen, Tom. Do an internet search. There are companies out there who do “self-defense” instruction whose only qualifications are a miminal instruction course for their instructors. A complete joke that does nothing but give people a false sense of security.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.



  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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 [email protected]

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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!

  48. 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.

  49. 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!

  50. 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.

    1. 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.

  51. 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.

  52. 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.

  53. 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?

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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.

  59. 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.

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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.

  63. 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!

  64. 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.

  65. 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.

  66. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. I worked full time and had a family and I still went to class – it was my special me-time.

  67. 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.

  68. 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?

  69. 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.

  70. 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..

  71. 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.

  72. 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.

  73. 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!

  74. 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.

  75. 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.

  76. “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.

  77. I can’t believe anyone buys into this Primal stuff. What people did 10,000 years ago isn’t they key in knowing what is healthy for us to eat now. This is a ridiculous assumption. If you think eating lots of saturated fat is good for you, then good luck in that triple bipass at age 60. What bodybuilder in the history of bodybuilding, ever ate loads of saturated fats and no grains? Mark definitely didn’t get the physique he has by a high fat/ no grain diet. Some saturated fat and some cholesterol I am sure we need. But to not eat grains, especially non-wheat grains such as brown rice, buckwheat, millet or quinoa, because cavemen didn’t, makes absolute zero sense. You know what is one of the healthiest foods, spirulina. It is rarely harvested in the wild, and obviously, most cavemen if any, didn’t eat this food. Does that mean it isn’t great for you? 10,000 years of farming, was every human morbidly obese in horrible health, up until the Paleo/Primal movement? I think this whole Primal thing needs to be reevaluated.

    1. Really guy? get a hold of yourself.. Google “forum for cynical idiots”, and post to your heart’s content.. don’t do it here.

  78. 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!!

  79. 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.

  80. 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!

  81. 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!

  82. 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!

  83. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    1. 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.

  84. 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.

  85. 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.

  86. 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.

  87. 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.

  88. 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.

  89. 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.


  90. 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.

  91. Not to forget most plain vanilla phyisical sports.
    Organised aggression…

  92. 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…

  93. 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. 🙂

  94. 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.

  95. 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. 🙂


  96. 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.

  97. 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.

  98. 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”.

    1. 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.

      1. Sorry Mark, I meant Oats. (Mixed the english words up – non native speaking).

    2. 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.

  99. 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)

  100. 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.

  101. 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!

  102. 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.

  103. 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!!!

  104. 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.

  105. 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.

  106. 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.

  107. 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!

  108. 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.

  109. 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!!

  110. If you want to learn real self-defense, study 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!

  111. 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.

  112. If anyone is interested in a good martial arts site, Sherdog is good, but I would recommend a great resource for helping you pick an art and place to train wherever you are.

  113. 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.

  114. 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.

  115. 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

  116. I do think that any number of sports can really manifest the same results as martial arts — the self esteem, the better people/working-together skills, etc etc etc etc etc.

    BUT, I also love martial arts. I was trained in taekwondo, and we both have dabbled (and by dabbled, I mean seriously dabbled for one session because we couldn’t afford it after that). I also had the luck to study Krav Maga in exchange for teaching yoga to the krav guys — so that was sweet. did that for a year.

    but now, i’m into roller derby. it’s back into sports, instead of martial arts. but i’m going to get my sn into martial arts — we are thinking aikido or juijitsu.

  117. I think a lot of people here are missing the point. Fighting/aggression is part of natural selection. Long before martial arts came into reality, humanoids more than likely fought to breed and be the “alpha,” the same way dogs and our close relative great apes do. The strongest/toughest copulated and thus passed on the best genes to the next generation.
    As for all that are pushing BJJ, please realize that Brazilian Ju-Jitsu is a great form of exercise and a wonderful sport in a controlled situation. BUT do not think for a second that if you get into a fight for your life that you want to take the fight to the ground. IN the real world the ground is covered with glass, nails, stones and concrete and the best submission moves in the world wont do a damn bit of good when the bad guy is bashing your skull against a parking block. Not only that but while you are task fixated on your ground and pound, your opponent will more than likely be driving a screwdriver or steak knife into your kidneys or shooting you with his 9mm.

    1. You have to realize a couple of things. BJJ for real self defense incorporates take downs from standing that can significantly injure your attacker. You also learn to end up on top of your attacker and maintain this position. Any competent BJJ practitioner is not going to lie down and pull guard in a street fight if they do not have to. However, the biggest reason to learn BJJ is because what if you cannot help but end up on the ground? Regardless of glass, nails etc. Where I train we learn BJJ to end the fight so we can get off the ground not stay there. If you end up on the ground unintentionally, and your attacker has a knife and you have no ground fighting skills, what do you do then?

  118. Here are some things I wish I knew.

    1. The teacher-student relationship is extremely important in martial arts (whether traditional or MMA). When meeting your teacher for the first time, try to observe and interact with his students, particularly the senior ones. This should give you a sense where this teacher can take you–is this where you want to be (see 2).

    2. Educate yourself on various options and be honest. For example, some martial arts focus on techniques so deadly you will never get a chance to actually practice them (think eye-gouging). Others are primarily taught as exercise or minimum-contact sports. Then there’s MMA which, for the most part, straddles well the line between sport-fighting and genuine combat.

    But some caution is warranted when choosing styles (see 3).

    3. Finally, remember this: fighter > style. So look for a well-respected teacher (see 1).

  119. Thanks for all you do Mark! I have a traditional program and Krav Maga program in Austin, TX. After beginning the Primal Blueprint Lifestyle around three months ago- I was shocked to discover about 15% of my adult Krav Maga students were Primal. We use martial arts for the aggression, fitness, and self defense. There is nothing wrong with aggression training. In fact, if you are forced to defend yourself- your technique might fly out the window- but your aggression could see you through!!!! Be primal- be aggressive!!!

  120. I practice systema. It’s almost contrary to this human nature concept of fight. It’s a martial art,but the whole point is to not ‘ fight’ if you know what I mean.

    but I’ll tell you, nothing is more relaxing than getting punched in face a bunch of times

  121. Can’t say I recommend Taekwondo (Korean-originated martial art and Olympic event). Great for flexibility, but breaking boards and training to kick to the head just seems silly looking back (did it for 4 years a few years back). Trying to kick someone who’s trying to hurt/kill you in the head is crazy risky in the street since it’s easy to lose your balance.

    1. Not all Tae Kwon Do instructors are into the “sport” aspects of the style.

  122. I know that my body feels a lot better when I work on some form of combative or extreme body control move. The mental focus you need is amazing. Also there you can learn a lot about yourself when you spar in a controlled environment.

  123. I been a practitioner of Krav Maga since late January of this year and I cannot begin to tell you about all of the benefits in all aspects of my physical and mental conditioning that I have gained.

    Just be sure you go with a legitimate affiliate of the Krav Maga Alliance

  124. First off, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m an American academic who works in England. Did youth judo, some ju-jitsu in young adulthood, and derived a lot of benefit from it. I think there’s a lot in the idea that controlled violence is a lot better than repressed violence. Certainly as far as cortisol levels (and central line obesity) goes, repression of anger plays a role. That said, let’s not get too excited about the English study. Combat sports are almost exclusively the province of the fee-paying sector, because state schools can’t go in for the ‘health and safety’ hurdles. So a lot of that correlates for income. And study design aside, I don’t think they really avoid the pseudo-correlation problems. But great post!

  125. If you are in Melbourne, Australia; and would like to learn a Martial Art with a Difference check out the Glen Lachlann Estate College of Arms. They train Western Martial Arts and the classes and bouting are a fantastic amount of fun.

  126. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for this article, I have a question:

    What do you think about the anxiety reducing effects of short intense periods of aggression?

    I play brazilian jiu jitsu, and I find that if I havent sparred intensely for a while my level of general anxiety goes up quite a bit! I get more worried about the state of the world, financial markets, living in big cities etc.

    I get the same positive effect from working out but something about the fear induced by bjj and the absolute inability to think about anything else for those 5 minutes really makes a difference.

    Thanks, Efe

  127. Great post, Mark! Hitting right on the head of the nail again.

    I started Brazilian Ju Jitsu at age 35 (I’m 37 now), not having done any kind of regular sport or martial arts before.
    I can firmly attest the advantages of doing martial arts regularly: consistently improved mood, much higher fear threshold in general, more realistic evaluation of your surroundings and situations, and overall more peace, fun, and love in your life. Oh, better sex, too. 😉

    Example: my mountain bike got stolen a few days ago. I left it chained to a pillar, and when I got back after dinner I only found the chain. I could have gone berserk and stressed over this (as I would have in the past), but instead I shrugged my shoulders and recognized my own fault in tempting the neighbourhood with a nice bike at that late hour. I had invested a lot of time and money getting that bike into tip top shape and I have fond memories of adventure with it, but all I did in the end was write a goodbye post in my blog. 🙂 My wife was actually more upset than I was about it.
    This capacity to make things weigh their real weight, instead of blowing it out of proportion due to emotional overload, is just one of the things martial arts will do for you.
    Sure, I did entertain fantasies of applying a few BJJ locks on the guy that stole it if I ever found him, but it was short-lived. I moved on, and I feel good about it.

    Regarding physical condition, I find the combination of BJJ and Primal eating to be a kick-ass beautiful lifestyle! Two months ago, before going Primal, I had to stop and take a breather every 15 minutes in BJJ class; I had a really bad acid/base imbalance and had no energy reserves whatsoever.
    Today, I do 2 fighting classes a week, taking on guys (and gals!) heavier and stronger and more experienced than me, and I usually win or draw. It has been a hell of a positive ride, because the extra energy I get from saturated fat keeps me going when all the carb-loaders have given up and are just leaning against the wall, sweating and panting like crazy. This has had a large effect in my self-confidence and opened me up for a lot more empathy towards others. I can actually feel the love in the Gracie classroom.

    BJJ classes are great for several reasons. I initially picked it because it had no head trauma (Grok rule: avoid trauma!) and still looked complete enough. I also don’t do competition because people get a little more carried away than in classes, and there is less respect, often leading to injury. But it almost replaces the entire Primal Workout because it has all the right kinds of effort: lifting heavy things (in many different positions), sprinting for your life (well, not actually running, but when the clock is ticking its final 30 seconds and you have to get a really strong guy out of your face, the effects are pretty much the same), and no chronic cardio. Besides sheer muscle power, it also develops your balance, stamina, strategic capacity, and empathic analysis.
    And it’s fun!! 🙂 Every class is different because every time you fight you take on different people, or the same people with new tricks. It is very refreshing and completely sucks the stress out.
    As soon as my kids are old enough, they’re going in too.

  128. Completely agree with everything in this article. I competed in collegiate Taekwondo and can tell you from experience, all the fighting calms you when you’re not in the ring/on the mat. Also, the sense of self-confidence you attain from having a high skill level, reduces the desire to remain in a predicament that might turn into a fight – rather, it makes you feel “okay” about walking away.

  129. I believe that inter-human aggression is a residue of “civilization.”

    Someone, somewhere, was the first person to declare that a given piece of property was their’s and had to defend that claim.

    Someone else was the first to start telling others what to do and had to enforce non-collective decisions and worse this leadership position was bequeathed to a son regardless of capability and that had to be defended as well.

    And a large part of what so-called leaders do, to this day, is claim that a group of humans from a different place or with different beliefs or with different physical features is somehow an enemy. It is the biggest lie ever told.

    I don’t believe that “Grok” had time for any of this nonsense. Hell, he was even interbreeding w/ neanderthals if the latest evidence is to be believed. Just because this inter-human violence has been ritualized does not make it “primal.”

    Many things can be inferred as to how pre-historic humans lived but the cultural string is the most difficult to tease out. The concrete evidence is all coincident w/ more modern civilization.

  130. Check your local public university. Most of them have a boxing club that is also available to the public. UNC’s boxing club is M and W nites and costs $10 to join. About 60-70 people age 19-58.

  131. Fantastic article and advice. I have studied various martial arts since I was about 8. It started with my parents enrolling me in a class of basic Okinawan karate because I was dealing with some bullying. I never achieved anything higher than a green belt in that class but the bullying also ended. I never actually had to fight the bully but it was my increased confidence and ability to speak up and stand up for myself that sent them looking for other victims. Fast forward 30 years. I have studied some various MMA practices including boxing, Muay Thai and BJJ. When our school closed down because of financial problems, I went in search of a new school for my then 8 year old daughter and discovered an authentic Chinese Martial Arts school teaching very old and traditional arts but also emphasising respect, discipline and real world application. Without a doubt I found a home for both my daughter and myself. Recently, my daughter shared a story with me that a bully shoved his fist in her face at Vaction Bible School of all places. After he refused to stop when she asked, she applied a wrist lock that didn’t hurt him but gently forced him to relent and he did. I couldn’t be more proud and I told her that she always has the right to defend herself. I recommend MA for everyone and think some training and some controlled sparring have an incredible effect, not only in the physical realm but more importantly on a mental, and possibly spiritual, level. I will say this as advice, check out a bunch of schools. Go and observe and talk to the instructors. STAY AWAY from those with a chip on their shoulder or dollar signs in their eyes. Find a place that fits you and then enjoy, grow and pass it on to others.

  132. I couldn’t agree more. As a life long martial arts practitioner/instructor I find it is one of the rare activities that fires up my mind, body and spirit. The energy surge I get when sparring or grappling with another person is unlike any other workout. Plus it has the added side effect of giving you skills you can use to protect yourself and your family.

  133. I studied karate in my early 20s, and came back to it at age 47 (I’m now 60). It is a martial art that people of all ages can practice and enjoy. My advice is to thoroughly check out the dojo you plan to join. My dojo is very family oriented, with classes for ages 5 to adult. I often help with teaching the kid’s classes and have an adult class (with mostly older adults) that I attend regularly. We have a world class competition team of junior olympians and everyone has an opportunity to “fight” or practice kumite on a regular basis, along with lots of kata and other drills. Many of our senior black belts started with their children and kept working out long after their kids have gone on to college.

    I have watched many shy and awkward kids come into karate and grow up into confident young men and women. It is an environment where discipline and respect are emphasized.

    My recommendation is that you carefully check out the dojos near you and find one that meets your needs. You can also check out some websites such as the USA/NKF for further information (that is the karate association recognized by the Olympics, or the IMA Karate website (the organization that I belong to — we have several member dojos around the US and abroad.) I would definitely avoid “belt factories” such as Stephen Olivers — you earn a belt thru hard work and practice, not by just showing up and paying your dues. You can also check out you local rec center or YMCA for beginner classes — they often use good, local instructors who can provide further instruction in their dojos.

    Another good practice based in martial arts — but quite different in purpose today is Daoist Tai Chi. It is centered in Orangeville outside of Toronto and has chapters around the world. It is a form of Tai Chi that emphasizes health and movement over the martial aspects. It is a great option for those who don’t feel comfortable with the aggression of most martial arts, but want the stretching and exercise. There are, of course, other styles of Tai Chi that are more martial, such as the Yang style.

    Some type of martial arts training is an excellent addition to anyones physical training, with a martial art form appropriate for pretty much everyone.

    And yes, it is a great outlet to channel aggression in a safe and respectful environment. We have some very tough women in our dojo. Fighting is not an outlet reserved only for males. We women enjoy throwing a punch and feeling confident in our ability to defend ourselves as much as any guy.

  134. For something totally different, check out medieval swordfighting at your local Society for Creative Anachronisms ( The SCA was created by folks who wanted to wear armor and beat on each other with swords. It has expanded a lot, but the leaders are still picked through combat.

    You have two options – heavy fighting and light fighting. Heavy fighting involves a full set of armor, optional shield, and rattan swords/spears. It is an excellent, full body workout. Light fighting involves puncture proof clothing, fencing masks, and flexible, blunt, steel rapiers, epees, and daggers. It is far more cerebral, but will still wear you out.

    Both forms of combat are an excellent way to burn off aggression. They are also virtually free to try, since SCA guilds almost always have loaner gear for newcomers. Give it a try and see what you think.

  135. I started doing tae kwon do 20 months ago, because my two sons had begun lessons and it looked like so much fun! Quickly learned that while fun, TKD is also a heck of a lot of work. 😛 I’m now an advanced blue belt, steadily working toward a black belt. What I love most is doing TKD with my sons and husband — doing it as a family event makes it even more amazing.

  136. Olympic fencing is a great “fighting” sport for people who don’t want to get a broken nose or still want to look dignified even if they’re losing.
    I’ve been fencing for about a decade, and I love it. It’s cerebral and great exercise!

  137. I have really enjoyed these recent posts about fighting, because it isn’t exactly what I’ve thought of before. My current belief still is that fighting isn’t necessarily good for you, but competing is. I like competition from playing soccer more than real fighting.

    Let me start with my brief background. I moved to a new place and soon everyone picked a fight with me, because I was a great student and didn’t want to hang out with them. Quickly, I became confident fighter through countless of fights with all kinds of people and now I was very strong 1-on-1. Whenever I kicked someone’s ass, I actually felt bad. I shivered all over my body from hitting someone. I even started going to karate and did for a few years, but I didn’t enjoy that.

    Wrestling with someone is fun, but hitting with fists and kicking with feet doesn’t feel good. Playing soccer and football are both also extremely fun. So for me fighting and fighting are different. That MMA or boxing that I see on TV doesn’t really seem all that good. The same thing, of course, holds true for all professional sports. The damage there is just too great.

  138. For many years I have felt the same way. As a Kung Fu and Tai Chi instructor I have seen many of my students change within a matter of a few lessons. Some of them are adults that want to get some exercise or have had traumatic experiences, some are kids that have “too much energy”, some are teens that need to get out their frustrations. We see dramatic changes in most of our students after a very short time because they are in a structured environment where they don’t have to repress emotions or energy. They can let it out in a safe way. It helps them both inside the dojo and out.

  139. I could be argued that the only real place fighting should happen in today’s world is on the mat –and or in the ring. In the ring we have two participants who are there willingly –and their battle won’t blind or dismember any children, mothers or fathers. We have a ref, who’ll step in and stop the match if needed. There’s an audience who can appreciate the skills on display –and there are rules that protect the competitors.

    I took my first martial arts lesson in 1969 –and today I teach other martial arts teachers how to take what they know off of the mat and put it to work in the world. I also work with them on bringing the “world” onto the mat –as in today’s world “self-defense” isn’t the block, parry, kick, or arm-bar, it’s dietary, environmental, attitudinal, and about community, contribution, and education.

    The best thing about being in a martial arts school –in my opinion, is engaging the people who teach and practice in the school. The dojo is where I learned a good deal about trust, overcoming obstacles, about teaching and being taught, about pain and what it means, compassion, and about how to be a teacher and a student at the same time.

    The martial arts have their benefits, but it’s good, caring, compassionate, mature teachers, working in close proximity to their students, that impart the most important lessons.

  140. Thats why I train Jiu-Jitsu everyday. It mellows me out and keeps my aggression in check. Love the post mark cheers.

  141. Lot’s of good comments. Bottom line is that Martial arts teaches us control not only in refraining from attacking; also in being able to receive an attack with grace. I’ve been practicing and teaching Aikido for over 30 years. It’s provided me with a way to navigate in interpersonal encounters and avoid unnecessary conflict. Now I love good conflict and a good tussle on the mat. Aikido is not for everybody — there are so many forms to choose. someone suggested in an earlier post to interview teachers. I couldn’t agree more. Find what fits, then go for it. For me, Martial Arts teaches to use fire. We can use it to burn/hurt/maim. We can also use it to help/heal/save/survive.

  142. Mark, is another great site for amateur MMA and combat sports players. They have video tutorials, nutritional information, product reviews, the works.

    (I’m not affiliated with them, except that I have an account on their forums)

  143. Wow, over 200 comments and nobody has mentioned the Dog Brothers? They are probably the most primal of any martial arts group you’re going to find!

  144. For some great recreational combat, I like simulated medieval armoured combat within the Society for Creative Anachronism or SCA. Full speed, full strength, competitive combat with fake swords and real armour so we can kill our friends, drink with them afterwards, and kill them again tomorrow.

  145. Glad you brought up recreation combat and battle games, Kevin. It’s a great alternative to traditional martial arts. In addition to SCA combat, there are similar games like Dagorhir and Belegarth that use padded weapons to simulate large-scale combat. Similar concept, but it’s much easier to get into since you don’t need armor to participate (plus you can play barefoot).

    Personally speaking, I had trouble really getting into MMA or competitive arnis on account of all the minor injuries (nosebleeds, twisted ankle, etc). While it was roaringly fun to be in the ring, I found it hard to enjoy the sport since I was constantly recovering on the sidelines. Recreation combat became a good way to get my primal violence on with less likelihood of injury.

  146. There is only one real martial art left(really a science) and that is “real” or Old Kung Fu San Soo which is nothiing more than cause an injury, repeat till satisfied. Anything less then that is sport fighting (UFC, boxing etc) These things came from a need to tame men and to keep “secret” that real violence is not about competion, rather desruction, i.e. rock to the head. better that most young lads stick to the jujitsu and leave the violence to the sociopaths and crazy guys like me.

  147. I’ve been Paleo/Primal for two months now. During this time, I’ve also sign up for Muay Thai/Strength & Conditioning at my gym ( ) My instructors told me that I’ve lost a lot of weight within the past few months. It’s a great way to workout and to build a skill in various martial arts. Also, if you live in Georgia, check out Team Octopus and Brandon Richey Fitness. I’m going to check out the Hapkido class at my college too. When I few confortable, I’ll be sure to post a success story here.

  148. I participate in BJJ and I love it. Its great exercise, fun and it teaches me a skill (I view it as a sport).

    One of the best things I have ever done for myself.

  149. As a professional fighter and trainer, I can tell you that many find balance with some controlled aggression. It’s good for your well being. Part of your instinct.

  150. It seemed that years ago you could fight someone, wipe off your bloody nose and then shake hands and have a beer later.

    Now someone goes wacko and tries to kill someone or goes postal.

    I am in complete agreement about controlled violence for helping us get out aggression, stress etc.

    Being civilized has made us try to tame the savage beast. It eventually gets out any way and sometimes in unproductive, unsafe ways.

    Like John Wayne would just have a good ole’ boy bar fight in the movies and then move on.

    Great topic. Sparring and heavy bag work relaxes me so much.

    1. Problem w/ “controlled” violence is that there is no such thing. What you are taking about is what all great apes do, social dominance, i.e. beast their chest, shake the branches, the sh-t you see in bars! Most of the time only the ego gets hurt. Problem is, you never know when you may “play” thde social dominance game with a sociopath,i.e, Richard “the night staker”. A Social people don’t play that sh-t, they just pull out a sharpened tooth-bruth and stab you in the neck with it 15 times. So, Gracie stuff, MMA works fine in a social dominance venue, when nobody really wants to kill one another, but so would your words, so would walking away. Against A-social individuals, competition type systems will only make you a participant in your own murder.

  151. I love my taekwondo and kickboxing classes! I’ve been going for about 7 months now and I can’t imagine living without them. My school, Living Defense Martial Arts, is an amazingly comfortable and supportive place and to my great delight there are a healthy number of women there. The men are far from mindless jocks (at first I was afraid I’d be surrounded by nothing but muscle heads) and the instructors focus not only on proper technique but also on the self defense aspects. I still don’t understand it myself but I love sparring. Is there really anything as primal?

  152. My eyes lit up as soon as I saw this article Mark, having been into martial arts/boxing for several years. I think they are something everyone should pursue, even if just for self defense purposes, though hopefully they’ll be able to find enjoyment/fulfillment as well. Always wondered what your recommendations would be for combat athletes/martial artists from a primal standpoint

  153. I took up judo with my son. He was 14 and I was 43! I have been involved in judo now for two years and really enjoy the whole set up, I even compete in Masters tournaments. The best thing is our training nights have all ages from 16 to 55, all weights and both sexes. Its all done with good humour, respect for the opponent and instructor and I have made some really good friends. Sure its tough but to live primally, you sometimes have to train tough.

  154. Such a great article topic. My online fitness coach and trainer Jared Meacham preaches this to me all the time. The need to protect and preserve my life and that of my loved ones is one of the most basic human needs I have learned. I’ve been taking jiu jitsu and kickboxing for a little over two years and take boxing on the weekends from time to time. I like your blog and read it often such great information.

  155. Mark

    I’ve just recently found your site and am highly impressed with the diversity and quality of your posts. I’m pretty sure that I’ll find lots of interesting stuff over the coming months.

    This article in particular has taken my interest, not least because I am a boxing coach (and have been for 15+ years) and before that competed at international amateur level.

    Firstly I agree 100%, I’m not sure that there is any kind of fitness development method as effective as that of training for a ‘fight’. It is the most basic action that our ancestors undertook and is likely to have taken up a considerable part of their daily efforts, if not actual fighting then certainly preparation for such.

    I can provide first hand accounts of the kind of character improvements that I have witnessed taking place in boxers that I have worked with. Does boxing manage aggression and is it more likely to lead to fewer fights? Absolutley. Why? Because if you know what it’s like to fight on the brink for periods, then the over-riding urge is to avoid such instances wherever possible. It’s basic common sense. Only fight when you absolutely, positively have to. The fact is, in a nfight situation, unbridled aggression/anger is counter-productive.

    I think that it is very helpful that you have made this link about the social improvements that take place around combat sports. A training fighter will almost naturally be more inclined to become more maternal or maternal to the younger boxers. This is a common factor that I see often.

    In terms of likely injuries, the most serious injury I received as an active fighter was damaged tendons in my thumb; that’s it. There is a school of thought that suggests that boxing should revert back to 4oz gloves from the current 10oz precisely to avoid the eventuality that you outline (low level damage). My own opinion is that we shouldn’t. The fact is that when we had smaller gloves, the mortality rate was higher. It may be simplistic to blame purely the gloves, but without question they played a role.

    On a similar matter, the reason that MMA fighters can get away with such small gloves is that quite simply they do not punch as hard as boxers (pound for pound). If boxers entered the ring wearing MMA gloves, then the KO rate would be horrendously high as would the incidences of serious hand injury.

    Just to give the readers a hint as to the complexity of a fighting system like boxing. On my website I have video articles covering the very basics skills that we use. I detail 14 different types of punch, 6 evasive body movements, 9 footwork movements and and 9 defensive actions (blocks/parries). That’s 38 basic skills that must be mastered and drilled to perfection before we get onto some of the more advanced stuff. That’s a pretty wide-ranging skill set to master and it does constitute a true ‘fighting system’.

    Great article Mark, Kudos to you!


    1. Just remeber, sport fighting (boxing, mma) is about communication(although poor communication if punching someone in the face) You are trying to raise your social standing and lower somone eles. Just like the apes do(pecking order) Real violence has nothing to do with communication. The man stabing you in the neck just wants to shut you off like a machine. And the best in our society at doing this, the A-social criminal is most like not in very good shape, zero martial arts training, 5 minutes,at best on-the-job training(killing), and is dumb as a stump. Best not to confuse the two :competition vs destruction

  156. I began training in karate when I was 18yo, , and It transformed my life. I attained my black belt by 23yo, but life (university, marriage, child, move interstate) got in the way and I stopped training by 25yo. When 42yo and my 11yo son told me he was ready to start playing a sport, karate was the obvious choice. We found a local club with a good ethic and enrolled as a family. Didn’t realise what a hole the absence of this sort of training had left in my life until I began training again. Kid is loving it! Here’s where we train now, if you’re in Adelaide, Australia, look us up.

  157. Great post Mark, I follow a paleo diet 80% of the time, and for the remainder I eat what I like, this way I ensure my body gets all the good stuff it needs and ward off disease. It also allows me to have a bit of fun and room to socialise without being awkward. I think fighting is in our nature, you only have to look at young boys. We are made of animal cells after all. Knowing when to fight is the key.

  158. Great post Mark, I follow a paleo diet 80% of the time, and for the remainder I eat what I like, this way I ensure my body gets all the good stuff it needs and ward off disease. It also allows me to have a bit of fun and room to socialise without being awkward. I think fighting is in our nature, you only have to look at young boys. We are made of animal cells after all. Knowing when to fight is the key. Check out for a similar but alternative way to being 100% paleo.

  159. for kids i suggest joining wrestling because there are a lot of youth programs for it across the country. wrestling builds character and gets people used to dealing with the stress of their lives in a more productive way. i’m sure that other sports do too but in wrestling you have to watch your weight which teaches discipline

  160. Bruce Lee’s diet had a lot of meat in it, but it was not primal. He ate rice, whole grains, lots of fruits, a little tofu, and peanut butter. Yet, I’m pretty sure he’d beat most of the PBers here.

  161. I’m glad Mark wrote about this topic. I was actually wondering for a while if I should send an email requesting a post on violence. Mark is a master of synchronicity though and a few steps ahead of the game.

    I enjoy violence. I’ve dabbled in it most of my life. I saw it on TV as a little kid and felt attracted to it. It’s always been prevalent in my life. My brother (older by two and a half years) made sure of that. He and I grew up play-fighting and getting in real fights. We had the knowledge our great grand father and other relatives were in the World Wars so we felt like little soldiers growing up, descended from a warrior bloodline. Our games were always full of imaginary bad guys who must be beaten or killed. Our grandfather made us wooden guns to pretend to shoot and we’d take them out in the forest and aim at things, often imagining if it was possible to shoot a plane down. We used cap guns often. We used to put on gloves and box sometimes during our adolescence. One winter my brother and his friends teamed up against my friend and I for a medieval battle. We had homemade wooden weapons, including a bow that my brother made by soaking a curved, bendable, stick in water for about a day and then drying it by the fire.

    My parents used to spank me or be rough with me to punish me and I considered that violence. They also were violent towards me out of anger. When I was 14 my dad shoved me so my back was against a wooden bunk bed post so I responded with a pushing strike that sent him a few feet back against the dresser.

    Almost all of the movies that entertain me have some snazzy violence in them. Almost all of the video games I played excessively in the past and occasionally play now are violent. The music I usually listen to could be called violent. I played football and rugby in high school mainly so that I could sprint at people and crash into them full-speed, using my body as a weapon. Often in rugby I’d tackle someone, they’d let go of the ball, and instead of picking it up I’d wait for someone on the other team to pick it up and then I’d tackle them too. When I did get the ball I had to decide between passing, trying to score, or charging into someone, or preferably a group. I would roar or scream sometimes when I did this, trying to sound as aggressive, menacing, and powerful as possible. I’d put my head down and go forward with the intention of knocking down anyone in the way even though I knew I’d fall or be tacklesd. I like to partake in violence and observe it. The only catch is that if I’m going to fight, which is rare, I need to have a good reason. If I’m going to hurt someone I need to be able to justify it. I was bullied a lot when I was a young kid and even throughout adolescence and in my teens and I understand how bad it can feel to be pushed around. I ended up freaking out and beating up or confronting and scaring most of the people who bullied me. Occasionally I still have to use violence to deal with unruly folks as I seem to be a target for the belligerent. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I occasionally recite this mantra in my head: “Be nice and don’t let me catch you slipping because that’s when I turn victimizers into helpless victims.” I like to make bullies’ plans for domination backfire brutally.

    Violence brings out another side of me. I usually try to stay calm and collected mentally and keep my emotions in check but violence rocks my world like an asteroid. Usually at the start of a fight I’ll freeze up out of nervousness or panic like I’m in shock, I’ll get hit a few times or taken to the ground, and then my adrenaline will take over and I’ll snap and start fighting back or defending myself with a flurry of reflexes and reactions and quick actions. Sometimes I’m in control and other times I operate from instinct. My perception is altered during violence. Sometimes I get a sort of tunnel vision and am extremely focused on the opponent to the point I’m oblivious or ignorant to what else or who else is around. Sometimes I fully black out and can’t recount for what happened for a moment or two. This is usually during an intense moment, such as when blocking a punch or launching into an attack when I’ve suddenly gained the upper hand. This also happens in danger or when I think I’m in danger. For example, a couple summers ago I was about 25 feet up in a tree and leaned towards another tree so my tree bent towards it and I grabbed a couple branches hoping to switch trees but they snapped and I fell, I remember flashes of the fall, during which I turned so I landed on my back, where I expected the least damage would be done. In such situations my senses and consciousness seem to blink on and off like a strobe light or choppy film, sometimes freezing and sometimes slowing down. I feel a thrill through my mind and body and sometimes just numbness.

    I have temporarily increased abilities during fights. My speed, strength and flexibility are improved.One time I was very mad because someone had ripped my friend off $80, I told him to pay, and then later he held a needle to my friend’s throat. When I heard about this I walked downtown looking for the guy in a bar I thought he might be in and there was someone else there who confronted me. He got hostile so I took of my jacket and put my backpack down and then he spit at me. I stepped towards him and then he punched me in the face and put me in a headlock and took me to the pavement. I also put him in a headlock and escaped his, then punched him with a flurry to the side. I got up and backed off and he was still talking with hostility so I said some things back and then he tried to punch me in the face with his right fist. I blocked it with my left arm and after about a second he ran at me so I sidestepped and threw him down onto the pavement and repeated the flurry. After that he was still making threats about the next day so I started saying things to taunt him while trying to sound innocent and walking around a corner to lure him into the view of the crowds outside the bars. There were probably around a 100 people there observing this. He tried a final time to sucker-punch me with a low punch but I palm-punched to stop his fist before it went past his stomach. He turned around and started running clumsily across the street. I took a breath, thought for a moment about what I should do, and couldn’t resist sprinting at him and jumping up to knee him in the back of the head. At the moment of impact I realized how much I could actually damage him if I used my weight so I turned in the air and landed on my knees beside him so he could put his hands on the ground. I pushed his head down and he resisted so I gave him another flurry in the same spot and then pushed his forehead against the pavement and rubbed his face on it, somewhat lightly, got up and stomped his back a couple times and jumped in for one final kick with the intention of cracking his neck, but in the air I decided that was a bit too drastic so I just landed, screamed at him to “Leave me the f#@% alone” and walked away.

    1. About a couple weeks ago a stranger tried to snatch money out of my hand and run with it. I subjected him to some torturous violence as a result. Long story short I let go of the money when it started to rip, punched him in the face something like 13 times, pushed him back against a bridge and headbutt him, maneuvered and pushed him to the edge of a shallow man made river, dove off an approximately 4 foot drop into it with him in front of me, landed on him, forced his face under water, let him catch his breath, then did that again, then held him pinned in the water and listened to him plea to let him go and whine about how cold and wet he was. Someone said they called the cops so I let him go and left.

  162. I sort of lost a fight yesterday, though it was also kind of a stalemate. We fought over a stupid argument that happened about 20 minutes before. The other guy stopped attacking me before anyone gave up and though he was on top of me on the ground we basically had each other’s arms locked and neither of us was able to do much damage to the other. I didn’t plan on giving up so I was hoping to tire him out. He was the angrier one and I was just fighting for pride. We talked after and resolved our argument. I didn’t inspect close enough to count but I was told I got six stitches over my left eyebrow. I have inflammation in the top of my left eye socket above the eye and I have a right black eye that’s a bit puffy, as well as a few scrapes on my forehead, arms, and hands. It was a two round fight. Both times we went to the ground with lots of flipping and rolling over and punching with some headfighting, and he told me to get up the first time because I was on my back kicking at him while he was up throwing punches and a kick at me from his feet, and that could have gone on for a while.
    Afterwards and today I felt like I’d done a hard workout and the other guy said similar. We both have some delayed onset muscle soreness and a bit of exterior soreness.

    1. Turns out he developed a black eye and a bit of brow bruising the next day. I’ve also got scrapes on my back, though whther that’s from the fight or the downhill sprinting/body-toboganning yesterday I’m not sure. He told me he has tae kwon do and jui jitsu training.
      We were talking about food with two other people and I mentioned the Primal Blueprint and he said there’s Aboriginals who cured their diabetes by eating wild natural foods. Small world.

  163. awesome post. I have trained boxing, Muay Thai, MMA and still train avidly Gracie Jiu Jitsu. Martial arts changed my life completely. I can not begin to even state how many lives all sorts of combat sports have changed. I will say this, you could walk into any regular Golds gym, and find much more attitude than you will ever find in a martial arts/wrestling grappling school. Because to become who you are you must go thru fire. Not real fire, but a fire within yourself that when you appear on the other side you are a different individual.

    There is a stigmatism around combat sports, it isn’t you vs someone else, the person across from you is an obstacle. the real fight is you vs yourself, you telling yourself you aren’t good enough, or if you are tired and want to quit, you find when you push past these self limitations into the unknown you find something out about yourself you didn’t know. You find you CAN do it. And when you accumulate those bits over time, you become a different person. Not to say I don’t still do all the dumb things everyone does at times. Believe me I do lol. I think more people should train, because people wouldn’t want to fight anymore after a long day of training, you are so tired you don’t have the energy to be upset. And the silly things like your boss being a jerk, or someone cutting you off in traffic, becomes ridiculous compared to a 250 pound man trying to choke the life out of you on the dojo mat and you stopping him and choking him at 178. 😉 its empowering to say the least. Great blog!

    Speaking from my own experience, being conditioned to a fight, makes a fight not so scary it also makes a situation not one where I feel the need to prove myself because of insecurity. (which a lot of fights happen that way) and well I’ve been in a replication of such incidents so many times your body goes on autopilot. like riding a bike. My wife and I do not have children yet, but when we do we are going to get them in early. For a male, my test levels are great,(I’m 37 last week) between a primal diet, (i still eat a bit more carbs than the average, sometimes white rice, as i burn a lot of calories in a single jiu jitsu class, where you are training nonstop 5 rounds of 5 minutes with only 20 seconds rest between.

  164. I run and operate a Taekwon-Do school with my wife. It is an excellent all around means of exercise and self-defense. If you are looking for a style of Taekwon-Do that is self-defense based look for one that is affiliated with the International Taekwon-Do Federation. Taekwon-Do was used in hand to hand combat during the Vietnam War and the results were actually documented by Time Magazine. Look up “A Savage Week” – Friday, Feb. 24, 1967 and you can read up on the effectiveness of Taekwon-Do. If you find a licensed ITF school, Taekwon-Do is still taught the way it was during the Vietman War. If you are looking for a well rounded marital art with an all encompassing workout then again I recommend an ITF Taekwon-Do school.

  165. My wife and I started about a year ago at the local Quest Center. Its a form of ninjustu adapted for modern threats called To Shin Do. But best of all everyone is extremely friendly and they focus on more than fighting. They go into tips for living a fuller life and achieving your goals. Look for a local center at!

  166. So do you recommend going for Krav Maga classes twice a week?

  167. Hi, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious
    if you get a lot of spam feedback? If so how do you stop it, any plugin or
    anything you can advise? I get so much lately it’s driving me crazy so any support is very much appreciated.

  168. I loved fighting in high school especially people who talked lots of sh** and got there butts whopped.

  169. Oh please. Mark usually writes good stuff but this one is terrible. Martial arts means Art of War, and I see no war around here. Im a man, I lift weights, but i dont need to beat peoples faces in to feel confident….only insecure people do. Combat sports are for people with self esteem issues and no life (clearly). If you want to learn self defense, you can take Krav Maga or a basic class at a gym….since most street thugs are not trained, it wont take long to learn. Theres nothing human nature about it either, as our ancestors fought because they HAD TO. We dont live in the stone ages anymore, we simply live in an age where everyone is miserable from work work work and just wants to fight without going to jail….which is sad. Maybe the reason fighters are less prone to street fights is because, uhh, they fight in a cage or ring where they wont go to jail?? It doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure that out lol. But hey, enjoy your brain damages and choking.

  170. I train muay thai and have found it to be incredibly empowering and a good way to get into shape. However, I am currently at a point in my life where I cannot maintain the level of training needed to compete. I am trying to fit muay thai into a more sustainable primal blueprint inspired system. Where would muay thai fit into this? As play?