"Look at me/ look at me/ hands in the air and it's great to be alive..." (Flobots)
I was watching a show about a fight club. It was started by 3 men trained in a variety of fighting styles and in the martial arts. Their involvement in their own respected fighting style was passionate. At times, they would attend tournaments. At these tournaments, the fighters wore helmets, heavy padding and of course followed the rules they were so expertly trained in. They did have weapons to use at these tournaments, but they were blunt and fake; and with all that heavy padding, it wasn't going to do any real damage. The goal of these tournaments is to show the instructors and others involved that they understood their training, that they can use their training, and that the instructors taught the students correctly. Therefore, there isn't any actual "fighting" per se. The "hitting" and "striking" is all about points, so just as long you make the correct contact hit to your opponent, you get a point. And since your opponent was also trained in the same style of fighting, their counter strikes will count as points for them. The more points = the winner.
The men watched with mild interest. They had done this for so long, it wasn't incredibly interested to them. They were practically experts in their field. Each had already reached levels of mastery in several martial arts. But as they watched, they wondered if all their training, all their sparring, all they had worked so hard on and put so much time in would ever really work if they were to be attacked.
So they started this fight club. There are no rules in the fight club. And all are welcome to join in that day to fight, whether you had training or not. And the only protection they wear is a face mask, like fencers wear and some padding on the arms. It's brutal. People get hurt. People bleed. Who in their right mind would want to do this? The people showcased in this TV show were surprising, there was an EMT, a writer/bartender, a massage therapist, some business analyst, etc. etc. Why do they fight? Their answers were not what I was expecting. Some of them are trained in martial arts, but most of them came here to fulfill a personal goal.
The writer/ bartender looks exactly how you pictured him when you read those words. He's a rather gangly looking fellow. I'll be honest, I was about to change the channel because I was so afraid to see him get beat up. He doesn't look particularly intimidating until you see him fight. He's built! Muscles defined underneath his shirt, and moves as fast as lighting. But he hates fighting, he thinks it's dangerous. He's actually afraid of fighting and of confrontation. But he feels that in order to overcome this fear, he has to fight. The corrections officer looks old enough to be anyone's grandfather, if your grandfather was in a fight club. At the detention center he works at, there was a riot, and he got knocked down and trampled from running inmates. He needed to have surgery on his back. And this is why he fights. He fights because he recently recovered from a spinal surgery. He feels the needs to fight in order to complete his therapy, mentally and physically.
The EMT is a mountain of a man. Not that big of a mountain actually. More like a big boulder! And he too like everyone else, hates fighting, but maybe more so than others because it affects him physically. He gets anxious at every gathering of the fight club, and feels as if he is about to throw up. I watch him prepare himself stretching, pacing and gagging. Every few seconds, he will turn his back behind a tree and make gagging noises. Hearing him almost makes me want to gag. You start to feel sorry for the guy and suddenly his mountain or boulder aura shrinks to human size. At first he said, he did it just to see if he could do it. And once he got through that first fight, he told himself, "That's it! No more!" But he keeps coming back; not to just watch, not to see his friends and bullshit; he comes back to fight. Out of all the participants showcased on the show, I could probably relate to him the most. Why? Why would you put yourself in a dangerous situation such as fighting where there are a lot of costly risks and not a lot of beneficial rewards? Well, that depends on your perspective...
One could look at this fight club and very easily pass judgement on it by saying it's a metaphor on how we percieve males in our society or how males perceive themselves. The 1950's social expectations of men still exits and with that mentality it creates systems and organizations such as these for men in order to feel adequate, instead of raising young boys to have a good inner sense of self as well as outer. Sure. That can be said, and that could hold some truths too. But that's not it, that's not why they keep coming back...There is something primeval about fighting; bodies crashing into each other, screaming, pulling, punching, kicking. There's no room for thought here. And you are definitely NOT in control of your body. Some other ancient, primal form of you is in charge now. It's raw behavior. What you see is what you get, and with lives on the line, there's no point in keeping score... Only one "thought" remains: Survive. The strategy? Fight.
So fighting is life.
There are so many emotions involved when we fight: fear, anger, passion, love, shame, hate, excitement. How do you know you're still alive if you don't fight? We all fight; more than we may even realize. The fight doesn't always have to be physical but its a fight all the same. Maybe you fight for a cause you believe in, or for something you want. Maybe you fight to stay clean and sober, for those last 5 pounds or for that really good parking spot.
The EMT won his fight that day. He got bruised up pretty bad, but he was smiling and laughing at the end. And he sheepishly admitted that he would come back again the next time and fight. When the film crew asked him why, he said, "I don't know man.. I guess it's like an addiction." It made sense to me. We both have an addiction that is dangerous and yet we mindfully put ourselves in harms way and gamble with our lives, knowing the cost greatly outweighs the rewards.
I fight. I fight myself everyday. I fight to get up in the morning. I fight for some sleep at night. I fight to convince others that I'm ok and I fight to believe that myself. I fight not to isolate. I fight the urge to use, and the thoughts of shame and guilt when I do. I fight to forgive myself, and the others who hurt me. And I promise to continue to fight; everyday, every morning, I will get up to face the day and conquer my anxieties. I promise I will fight by any means possible in order to survive and know that I am alive.