Be a Man: Fight Club

The Way of Fight Club

Jack Donovan's book, The Way of Men, is short, punchy, and to-the-point. It is, in my opinion, required reading for anyone who starts taking regular doses of the red pill and finds himself stumbling around, dazed and blinded, from getting hit between the eyes with that kind of information like a baseball bat. In it, Jack points out that the Way of Men is the way of the Gang. There are many forms that gangs can take, ranging from close-knit groups of friends who get together once a week to play poker, to actual hardass biker gangs that go around riding powerful bikes and sporting scary tattoos. But all of them have one thing in common: a strong bond between its members, created through mutual respect and understanding, that unites them against all outsiders and enemies.

And towards the end of the book, Jack exhorts his reader to go out and start his own gang, in order that he might be prepared for the days to come when civilisation breaks down and the Way of the Gang once again comes to pass.

So, how do you go about starting your own gang? For a deep introvert, this is a particularly troubling question. After all, we REALLY dislike other people. Being around people is draining, frustrating, and irksome for us. We like our privacy and our alone time- without it, we cease to function.

That said, if an interaction has a purpose, proves to be good fun, and allows us to let off some steam in the process, we tend to be pretty happy to sign up.

Fortunately, there is one activity that combines all of these things in one convenient (if sometimes painful) package: full-contact sparring.

Fighting and Bonding

The reason the movie "Fight Club" was such a big hit was not (just) because of its outstanding direction, brilliant plot twists, amazing acting from Brad Pitt (yeah, I never thought I'd use "Brad Pitt" and "amazing acting" in the same sentence either) and Edward Norton, or its balls-out insane premise.

It was because "Fight Club" captured the deep, primal dissatisfaction that young men felt, and still feel, at the utterly sackless, riskless, enervating culture that forces conformity and stifles any possible outlet for masculine strength and power. And it did so with amazing style and panache.

Most importantly, in my opinion, it showed a side of manliness that only men can possibly understand.

Do you remember the scenes in that movie where two guys would be beating the ever-loving snot out of each other one moment, and then back-slapping and high-fiving each other the next, bonding over a beer? That is something that only men are truly capable of doing. The reason for this is actually pretty simple: fighting establishes hierarchy, and men are nothing if not hierarchical in our thinking. A dominant male is someone to admire and respect and emulate. A submissive male is someone to scorn and avoid. Fighting allows for a very efficient, very simple way of separating the strong and dominant from the weak and effeminate. It is also an exceptionally good way for men to size each other up, to get a good understanding of each other's relative strengths and weaknesses, and to gain respect for each other.

This is something that women simply cannot comprehend. It isn't in their nature to understand the point of two men squaring off, with or without gloves, and beating the holy spirit out of each other. The only thing that women understand about this process is how attractive a dominant male is in a very primal sense.

So now I'm going to tell you something today that will make you think I've lost my mind:
As a man, you need to FIGHT.
Full-Contact Sparring

Take it from someone who knows:
The undeniable truth is that, for men, sparring and physical confrontation is inevitable, necessary even. Sometimes only with the blunt end of a fist or the butt of gun can some men be corralled into being better people or simply controlled. There are some men you can never reach. No wisdom of a pastor can alter these men’s pysche, no reassuring advice of a shrink can rehabilitate their sickly ignorant minds. Only through violent coercion are these men changed so they stop hurting others. Violence and war are never off the table simply because there exist people who simply won’t do right by the world. 
However, more broadly, being in a fight changes a man.  The drab day-to-day of a modern man’s life is stultifying. Movies like “Fight Club” exist because the modern man is shunted and forced into roles he would rather not take, but needs to provide for himself and those around him. The pressures the modern man faces can’t be stomped out by force nor can’t be rectified with the double-barred end of Remington shotgun to a person’s head. 
That being said, the sheer rush a man experiences with anticipation of a physical battle of wills nigh is second to none. Actually being in a fight – that is a whole other beast. I have only been on the losing end once and still, after licking both your flesh and mental wounds, there was a serious personal rush...
Still — and this relates to fucking beautiful women — once a man fights, he is calm. I have known men to be at each other’s throats and grappling back and forth, only to be getting drunk at the bar, bonding over how the Packers are a shit NFL team. 
Once men act out their aggression, there is a great change for healing...
One of the most misunderstood aspects of male violence is the cathartic effect it can have. It can be used to express personal frustration with somebody, only to have those differences resolved through physical confrontation. However, it can also be an outlet for displeasure with the self that leads to personal growth...
Fighting represents the culmination of male frustration with themselves, others or society in general. It is natural by-product of being a man and is sometimes necessary for who you can’t reach. However, what is most striking about fighting is the healing it can engender in both parties. It seems very counter-intuitive, but 100% true. 
Fighting another man can change your life only if you understand why you are fighting.
So that no one gets the wrong idea, I am NOT advocating that you walk out the door right now and punch the nearest guy in the chin and then start using ground-and-pound on him. Nor am I advocating that you start training right away in MMA so that you can participate in cage matches.
I am saying that you should learn how to engage in full-contact sparring, with an eye towards keeping things safe and fun.
Full-contact sparring is not difficult to organise. Just join a local kickboxing/muay thai club, learn the basics, buy some simple gear (gloves, shin pads, a mouthguard, and optionally some headgear), and get to work. Learn how to control yourself, move at a steady pace, keep breathing, and work with your partner to keep him safe and healthy- because that's the best way to ensure that he is doing the same thing for you.

Trust me when I say that this is THE fastest way to get fit and strong. Lifting heavy weights develops incredible strength rapidly, no question, but it doesn't develop cardiovascular fitness the way that running does. Conversely, running develops cardiovascular fitness very effectively, but does not develop balance, muscular strength, or all that much bone density. (It also is terrible for you in the long term, which is why you see marathoners dropping dead in their late 40s and early 50s.) Fighting is the best way to develop fitness quickly, because you have to develop speed, coordination, strength, cardio, and timing, all at the same time. Without any one of these things, your opponent will take your head off in very short order.

Sparring and Male Bonding

Sparring is also perhaps the best way I know for a deep introvert to develop healthy and strong bonds with other men. Male camaraderie seems to develop best in high-stress, high-testosterone situations, and if you combine this with the relative safety and fun that comes from hard sparring, then you have the potential to build some truly lasting friendships.

Now that I've passed my yellow belt test, I am eligible to take boxing and sparring classes at my Krav Maga school. Once a week I take a late-night class in sparring, and I have to say, I absolutely love it. The first few classes were brutal, simply because I wasn't used to getting smacked around and getting hit. Taking shots to the face scared the hell out of me, even though we were all wearing boxing gloves and dialling down to 50% power and speed (even less, in my case). But after the first few weeks, when I realised what it meant to get tagged in sparring, I started to lose my fear. And now, I have to say that sparring is by far the most enjoyable and fun aspect of the art- more so than the techniques, more than the combatives, more than anything else, putting on boxing gloves and pounding on each other for five minutes at a time is just plain fun.

Recently I was sparring with my regular partner for a few minutes at the end of a class. We both take the weekly sparring classes together, we partnered up for our test and passed it together, and we get along very well. Both of us were having a great time that night, whacking each other with jabs, hooks, and uppercuts- he got me good with a jab to the nose, and I returned the favour by smacking him hard in the cheekbone with a right hook. Every time one of us connected with a good clean hit, one would look at the other as if to say, "you okay?", and then we'd get straight back into it. At the end of it, we were tired, sore, and in exceptionally good spirits. Good times, good times...

Then we had to switch partners, and I found myself up against a yellow belt who didn't spar at all. He spent the next three minutes basically running away from me, trying desperately to dodge my punches, while I just came right after him. It was absolutely hilarious for me, and probably bloody terrifying for him.

Straight after that class ended, my regular partner and I exchanged backslaps and handshakes, went into the locker room to get changed, and had a quick bull session about how much fun all of that was. This, despite the fact that I don't know the guy outside of the martial arts classes, have never met him for a drink, and don't know anything much about his personal life.

Meanwhile, the guy I'd been chasing around the mat for three minutes completely avoided all of us and went straight to the toilet, I imagine because he needed to piss his gi pants in private. Oh well. His problem, not mine.

Or take the sparring class I was in earlier this week. Most of those sparring classes are pretty scary for newcomers. You walk in and the first thing you see as a new yellow belt is an assortment of higher-ranked guys- orange, green, blue, and possibly even brown and black belts- and you think to yourself, "I am SO dead". The first time someone hits you in the face with a punch, it really stings- because you're not used to getting hit like that. The first few lessons are utterly terrifying because of this- you walk in thinking, "I am going to get my ass handed to me". Then you settle down and get into a rhythm, and you realise that it's really not that bad. Some of the higher-ranked guys are real jerks who just want to beat the crap out of you- but most of them are actually pretty decent and want to help you out by showing you how to spar properly.

So there I was sparring with an orange belt who got me into a corner and proceeded to beat the crap out of me with like 10 straight punches, all of which landed and all of which hurt. Once I finally got my head clear and my bearings straight, I gritted my teeth, and went after him the same way he'd just gone after me, landing a few good hits of my own. And he didn't object at all. Afterwards, I bowed to him, he thumped me on the shoulder and thanked me, and we walked away without any bad blood at all between us. I imagine that next time he'll probably whack me pretty hard again, and that's just fine.

Later that same night, I was sparring with an orange belt- this time with hands and feet- and managed to get in a couple of solid kicks to the chest and ribs, and several hard punches to his head. He actually had me in a clinch at one point, pounding the bejeezus out of my ribs while I was doing the same to his head. When the class ended, he gave me a big hug and I shook his hand, and he gave me a few important pointers about my kicks that I badly needed. We both walked away on very good terms, no hard feelings, no issues, nothing.

How many men can claim to have bonded with each other over whacking one another with boxing gloves and kicking each other in the head?

Sparring and Self-Fulfilment

If your aim is to make yourself the best possible man that you can, then in my opinion fighting has to be a big part of that. You must learn how to defend yourself (i.e. hurt other people). You must learn how to spar safely and comfortably. And you'll make some great friends in the process. If you get hurt in a sparring class, chances are it will be only temporary (unless you're being stupid, in which case it's going to be pretty bad). Don't antagonise the guys who are faster and better and more experienced than you- learn from them, thank them for teaching you, and show respect to those around you.

So go out there, start or join a fight club, and get sparring.

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