I found an interesting article titled MMA, The Sense Of Adventure, Risk & The Decent Of The Authentic Male Spirit. The author touches on many points that I agree with and that match much of my philosophy on the subject that is the focus of this blog. He has also authored many other well written posts on the topic of martial arts and warriorship. While he subscribes to the “anybody can be a warrior..warriorship comes from within” model that I differ from here, he makes many well thought and well worded points.
Here is an excerpt:
Contrasting this to an example. Nathaniel Fick, an Ivy League College Graduate who went from the halls of Dartmouth University to the grueling Marine Officers Candidates School and later found himself in combat both in Afghanistan and Iraq. What was an Ivy League Graduate doing in the Marines? He seemingly had everything going for him, a great education and great prospects for a mainstream future. Yet he chose to give that mainstream future up, for another future in the Marines.
In an interview with Jeffrey Brown on PBS, he was asked to read a passage from his book, One Bullet Away. This passage I believe explains in a nutshell what I believe to be the irresistible pull of MMA for most men today.
“Throughout my life, I had always had some sense of what was coming next. People build continuity into their life: Places, friends and goals. We go to work on Monday with plans for Friday night, enroll as freshmen intending to be seniors and save money for retirement. We try to control what comes next and shape it to meet our will. This was too big for me to shape [talking about his role in the Marines on the front]. I was absolved of the responsibility for my future. It was replaced with responsibility for 22 other futures. Nothing in my history seemed to matter beyond that line on the map. I didn’t know what to expect; could not even imagine what might come next.”
In a further interview covered in the Enlightened Next Magazine, he succinctly sums his entire reason up for joining the Marines,
“I wanted something that might kill me- or leave me better, stronger, more capable. I wanted to be a warrior.”
I believe this is exactly the reason for the rise of popularity of MMA today. Most Men and interestingly young men (The predominant group doing MMA is likely 18yrs to 26yrs old) are searching for risk. In doing so they believe that it will as Fick outlines, make them stronger and more capable in life. As Author and Counselor Bret Stephenson has pointed out in his book, From Boys To Men, “Risk is so inherent in boys”. In a way men are gravitating to MMA because they see it as a way to become what they perceive as real men. The perceived risk in a way answers the call to manhood. Instinctively these men know, while possibly not conscious of it, that risk is required to experience a genuine transformation into manhood. Society however, especially in the West has left men without time honored, tried and true practices for working with the masculine energy. We are told to observe control, that aggression is bad (Unless it is conveniently disguised in sport) and that we should be in touch with our feminine side. For all the hard work of the feminists groups and the attempts to get men to become more in touch with their anima qualities, men still believe physical prowess is the mark of a real man.
For most men physical prowess since childhood has always seemed necessary to feel competent, stronger and capable as a man. No matter how hard the Feminist Lobbyists have tried to eradicate the gender separation and bring about a gender-neutral society, men still firmly believe that in order to be a man, physical prowess is required. If a productive way is disallowed in a society to express a mans physical prowess, men will naturally seek out other alternatives- no wonder that MMA is a reasonable choice for many men.
Take a moment to read the entire article, it will be worth your time.