Shakespeare’s timeless quote, ‘to be or not to be’, carries deep philosophical meaning; so too can the reasons for fighting.
On Saturday night, I participated in an amateur boxing fight. Friends, family, family friends, all questioned me, “Why?”
I had my justifications; many loose thoughts. I’d read Jonathan Gottschall’s, The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch and Miyamoto Musashi’s samurai ideologies in The Book of Five Rings; I’d listened extensively to cognitive scientist Steven Pinker talk about the history of violence and retired Navy SEAL Jocko Willink speak about the essence of combat; I’d witnessed, first-hand, the type of person forged in an MMA gym; I had my reasons but they lacked concise articulation.
A couple of days removed from the fight, I now have that concise articulation: I fought for strength, I fought for happiness.
I was nervous, on and off, for the two weeks leading up to the fight. At their peak, hours prior to the bout, the nerves surpassed any I had felt before. I kept telling myself ‘nerves are just energy’, but it was to no avail. My opponent was fast and strong and a better boxer and I was in survival mode. Midway through the second round he began uncorking over-hand rights and left uppercuts. The referee had no option but to step in after a bruising sequence. But here I am, with nothing much more than a black eye and a sore jaw.
I did it. I overcame the immense fear. I battled the nerves. I fought Goliath and lost, but conquered something bigger.
I feel capable.
I feel strong.
In Chinese philosophy, there is the yin and the yang; the light and the dark, interconnected, interrelated, and interdependent. Saturday night was not easy, far from it. Engaging in the ultimate form of competition, something so primal, honest, and raw, was a challenge like no other. It was tough. But at the end of the tunnel is the light.
I’ve gained a newfound sense of appreciation for what I have: my family, my friends, my surroundings. I think this is why so many fighters, despite the stereotype, are peaceful people. Somebody asked me on Saturday night, is there anybody at my gym that I’m uneasy around? There are people that I wouldn’t want to piss off, but nobody who isn’t open, calm and content.
Through fighting, the grass is greener, the air is crisper.
I feel happy.
The reasons for fighting differ for each individual.
Some just love the rush. As Robert E. Lee, the commanding general of the confederates during the American Civil War, said, “It is well that war is so terrible for otherwise we would grow too fond of it.”
Others, like World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Tyson Fury, do it to provide for their family.
I did it for strength.
I did it for happiness.
Thank you to all the individuals from Fightcross who helped me prepare for this fight. It was a blessing to be supported by such happy, strong people.