Archive for May, 2010
Rite of Passage – a ritual event that marks a person’s progress from one status to another.
As much as the sport of MMA and its combatants are derided by its detractors as little more than brutish thugs trying to kill each other – there’s an important thing that this contest offers the participants.
To cite a pop reference, I think Tyler Durden had it right. “How much can you know about yourself, you’ve never been in a fight?”
In a very substantial way, outlets of healthy aggressive or cathartic expression have been whittled away from society. People are so worried about others getting hurt or damaged that a bubble of physical isolation exists that, for some, helps to foster internal unfocused rage and frustration. Sure, you can find ‘contests of wills’ in other areas of sports, but it’s not entirely the same.
I realize that not everybody is wired the same – not everybody feels a strong need to get into a physical contest of this sort, but there are quite a few people out there for who it is literally their life’s blood. It’s what makes them tick – what gives them a sense of self and purpose. It’s what helps center and focus them, making them better people.
In the MMA cage, and in the boxing ring, the game is so subtle that most people miss it. It’s hard for a lot of spectators to look past the two people beating the holy hell out of each other to see the chess match that the better players in the game run.
Granted, there are ugly, bitter rivalries between fighters at times, but there is also a very tight, solid comeraderie as well. This fellowship of blood and bruises is hard won and strongly respected. It is, in a sense, a bit like the kinship that exists between men on the battlefield. There is a bond of brotherhood that only comes from having survived a traumatic event that cannot be found through other venues.
The respect that these men and women pay each other after the contest is over is surprising, at first. Before and during the fight itself, the two combatants do their best to insure that they are the last one standing. At times, the conflicts seem almost grotesque, but the victor will do his/her best to check on his opponent afterwards to insure that they’re OK, and the pair usually embrace or salute each other respectfully.
Fighting isn’t meant to be pretty, but it does have a grace that only few will know.