Everybody knows the benefits of lifting weights but it isn’t the only game in town that can build your body and mind. Learning how to fight also has a place as one of the key things all men (and wo
men) should do to get the most out of their life experience. Sound like an exaggeration? It’s really not, especially when you consider learning how to fight has been a rite of passage since the beginning of time in many dominant cultures. It is only in recent times that the practice of channelled aggression has been given a bad rap.
The practice of fighting, or learning a martial art, is especially valuable for men, for whom the acting out of aggression, the desire to dominate, the ability to look after ones’ family or tribe, as well as having the camaraderie of like-minded males, is a huge factor in wellbeing and something that modern society constantly deprives them of.
The ability to challenge others, to endure pain, and the knowledge that you can look after yourself physically, are very underrated factors that contribute to high levels of functioning in other areas of life. Learning how to fight doesn’t mean you have to go around bashing heads in but, knowing you could if you had to, can make all the difference between a timid boy and a dominant man.
If you are still not sure how learning how to fight can benefit you, the 12 reasons below should clear up any confusion.
1) Learning how to fight builds unbreakable confidence
Have you ever seen a fighter who looks timid and scared of the world? Didn’t think so. The knowledge of knowing you can take anyone on and, in all probability, defeat them in a physical contest can do wonders for self-confidence. You may think this is crude or uncivilised. Nevertheless, we are fighting animals that have survived because of our ability to think and defeat enemies. Most of the giant ancient civilisations that we know were masters of violence and war, and this is still true today. Being able to fight gives us the assurance we can take care of ourselves and the people who are dear to us. It also ensures that our confidence is not based on anything external, like possessions or material goods. Our confidence, therefore, cannot be taken away and is literally unbreakable.
2) Learning how to fight teaches persistence
If you hadn’t already guessed, learning how to fight is tough. Training to get into fighting shape is brutal. The actual fighting is dangerous and extremely violent. Even sparring is rough if you underestimate what you are up against. All of this combines over time to build your mental and physical toughness. As you go forward and resist the urge to quit, you learn persistence and why it is so valued as the secret of success. It takes persistence to get up when you keep getting your ass kicked. It takes persistence to throw another kick when it feels as though your leg is about to drop off. Learning to take action anyway will deeply affect your success in other areas of life.
3) Learning how to fight teaches us how to control our emotions
When we are first learning how to fight, things are not going to be rosy. Our bodies (and, quite possibly, our faces) are going to get beaten up. We are going to be tired beyond our wildest dreams. One thing that fighting does during this process is teach us how to control our emotions. We will no doubt come up against a lot of fear, anger and frustration as we master techniques and get knocked down by more experienced challengers. We may encounter some negative emotions that we have stuffed down since childhood that fighting is finally allowing us to let go of. Though this process is bumpy at best, it is cathartic. Over time, we will learn to do what we have to do to achieve our goals, regardless of how we are feeling. This mastery of thoughts and emotions is priceless, for lasting confidence and wellbeing.
4) Learning how to fight is a great way to relieve stress
As we mentioned above, the process of learning how to fight can be physically exhausting. Keeping your mental edge during a fight so you don’t get knocked the hell out is exhausting. There is natural satisfaction that comes from good, honest physical work – however violent – and when we are done for the day we will feel good. After a few hours you will be soaked in sweat, with muscles shaking, and all you will want to do is eat something and go to sleep. Over time, this routine of hard work and pushing through the pain will eliminate a huge amount of stress from your life.
5) Learning how to fight takes you a long way from your comfort zone
There is nothing more uncomfortable than being thrown into our situation you are not familiar with. Learning how to fight is no exception in this case. It is unlikely, upon first entering the gym you wish to train in, you will be met by big smiles and fireworks. Instead, you are going to have to earn the respect of the more experienced people in there. You will have to work hard and show you are not another person who is going to come for two weeks and then not show up again. Voluntarily sailing away from you comfort zone like this is courageous act and, in overcoming what you were afraid of in the first place (new people, no experience etc.), you will be rewarded with a level of self-esteem that can never be taken away from you. Experience stepping out of your comfort zone more and more often and it will rapidly start to expand.
6) Learning how to fight will get you in the best shape of your life
It doesn’t matter how much weight lifting you do or how many miles you run during the week – training to fight is another ballgame entirely. For one, you will need to work for many hours before you are competent at certain skills, and even then you will be nowhere near mastering all of the nuances that come with real fighting. The training fighters do to be able to withstand punishment and dish it back out is brutal and your conditioning is going to level up as a result. Sparring or grappling for 3-5 minute rounds is no joke, even for an elite athlete. One huge bonus of all this punishment? You will actually look as tough as you are for once, rather than looking hard but running scared like a lot of bodybuilders. With the right set of rules governing your training and nutrition, you should be able to stay in shape all year with no extra effort needed.
7) Learning how to fight teaches you discipline
The skill and sport of fighting shares this with all other types of physical competition. Its takes prolonged discipline to see the fruits of your labour. This means getting up early to fit in a training session, eating right, living right, foregoing too much alcohol and getting a good night’s sleep. Having the mental discipline to stick to this routine, despite all of the obvious temptations of instant gratification around you, will set you apart from others as time goes by. Success is not an overnight thing but, with continuous discipline, it will come to you just as sure as the hands on the clock will continue going around.
8) Learning how to fight will force you to get out of your own head
Too many of us spend days feeling self-conscious and disempowered because we spend too long in our own heads. From birth and childhood, we have been implanted with a lot of negative beliefs that don’t serve us, all of which are going around in a continual loop in our subconscious minds. To sit and listen to them for too long is tantamount to throwing all of our hard-earned confidence and self-esteem out of the window. Aside from consciously practicing positivity, we also need to spend time out of our heads, doing something physical. Hitting the gym can be good. Having sex is good. Learning how to fight is a great way to do this. We have no choice but to be totally present in our bodies and to reject intruding thoughts, or else we might catch a sharp right to the jaw. Forcing ourselves to be in the moment – rather than withdrawing mentally and emotionally – is great practice for other pressure situations that may occur in our lives, including business meetings or family emergencies.
9) Learning how to fight allows you to express yourself physically
Despite what modern thinking will tell you, men are inherently physical and prone to violence. According to Rodney King, in his essay How Martial Arts Can Supercharge Your Man Spirit, 90% of violent acts that happen today will be committed by men. The great majority of the victims of this violence will be men. The physical expression of aggression and the thrill of war have long been swept under the rug as the dark side of the human psyche. In today’s world, our violence is played out in movies, in computer games, in the board room, or in politics. As entertaining as this, it leaves a lot of men feeling repressed and emasculated. Learning how to fight remedies this need for challenge and violence completely. Through training and sparring you can express yourself physically in a relative safe, socially-condoned environment, which will make you finally feel like the dominant person that you are. Don’t believe it? Go and find out for yourself and report back.
10) Learning how to fight gives you the opportunity to compete for something
Just as men inherently crave confrontation and violence, they also crave competition for something. In this day and age, most major competition is relegated to professional sports or business. When you learn how to fight, and decide to fight against others in competition, you unleash that latent part of you. You will learn the reward of real competition and putting it all out there, willing and finding a way to win. Make no mistake – we all want to win. This is not ‘bad’ or to be punished. It is just natural. Fighting in proper environment can give us the buzz of competition without any unfavourable repercussions.
11) Learning how to fight forces us to take action and master ourselves
We aren’t all born with the action habit. Some of us are never taught that no-hesitation killer instinct that sets the super-achievers apart from the crowds. Many of us procrastinate and put things off, mostly because we fear being rejected by those who are close to us. When we learn how to fight, we have to tackle this inability to take action head on. We have to learn to act, regardless of how we feel, otherwise we are going to get our lights turned out. This ability to do things when we don’t feel like it is one of the secrets of really productive people that always seem to be achieving something. Master yourself and cultivate the habit of taking action and you will see huge changes in the direction of your life. All of a sudden, you will be in control.
12) Learning how to fight puts us into contact with more dominant, like-minded individuals
There is a famous quote that states we are a combination of the 5 people we hang out with the most. Whether this is true or not, the people we spend a lot of time have a huge influence on our thoughts and behaviour. Prolonged interaction will make certain traits ‘rub off on you’, whether you are aware of it at the time or not. Hanging out with others who are learning how to fight then, in an MMA gym or dojo or whatever, ensures you are interacting with like-minded individuals who are aware of who they are inside. Think about the people who fight – dominant, powerful, alpha individuals who set goals and get what they want. Having that camaraderie, as well as that mindset rub off on you, is never going to hurt anything.
13) Learning how to fight makes you far more attractive
As much as women (and men) protest that they don’t like violence and hate people who fight, its mostly all lies fed by society. The fact is, people (especially women) are attracted to those who can hold their own physically and win a fight. This shows in many ways that they are a dominant individual who is more than capable of looking after a family – a very attractive trait. Most fighters are also very at ease in their own skin and super-confident in themselves, which comes through in their body language and the way they interact with people. This is a far-cry from some weightlifters who compensate for their inner anxieties by building large muscles. The fact is, women don’t care all that much about big muscles. They want a strong, confident man who can take care of things and keep them safe. Want to be more attractive? Learn how to fight.
14) Learning how to fight supplies us with a powerful, positive philosophy of life that we can carry with us always
Acquiring the will, skill and attitude of the warrior is not all about physical ability. Most fighting schools, and in particular martial arts, are brilliant for instilling a philosophy of respect, discipline and hard work upon their students. These ancient philosophies help us keep things in perspective, keep our egos from running wild, and ensure we treat our newfound powers with great respect and responsibility. This code of honour is not just applicable on the training mats, in the ring or in the octagon – it can be applied to all areas of life and absolutely should be. Internalising this philosophy gives us confidence and purpose – a mission that was perhaps not there before. This is the one thing that all mentally strong people have in common – without exception – and will serve you well for the rest of your life.
“Prize fighting is short. You get in, get rich and get out. But martial arts are for life. It’s for life.” – Conor McGregor