In October 2014, MMA fighter War Machine, Jonathan Koppenhaver, was accused of brutally assaulting his girlfriend Christy Mack and the internet erupted in rage over images of her bruised and battered face in the media.
This post isn't necessarily about the assault or the POS that beat her, it's more about the stigma that certain people have for other people.
Surely War Machine’s involvement with violent and over-the-top aggressive MMA was behind the charges of rape, assault and kidnapping? Isn’t that what Mixed Martial Arts is all about anyway? Actually, no.
In the same way that people blame violent video games for teens who go off the rails and shoot up their schools, MMA and combat sports in general seemed to catch flack for promoting aggression out of the cage as well.
While Koppenhaver was clearly a troubled soul and would probably have committed his crimes without MMA, there is no denying that to the outsider, combat sports look brutal, savage and a little crazy.
In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, proper martial or combative arts training can actually be a way to cultivate and channel aggression, helping to develop discipline and character.
Martial arts of various kinds have always existed. And even ancient people understood the value in molding our most base and primal instincts into controlled, productive action.
Today, we live in a politically correct world where young boys only pretend to fight in video games and never know the full range and power of their body’s expression.
To the outsider, fighting may look like nothing more sophisticated than somebody getting their ass whipped, but don’t underestimate the value in learning your limits, pushing yourself, going past pain and pitching yourself against a worthy opponent.
The modern world has few outlets for raw, unfiltered male (and female) aggression – and combat sports are not fuel to the fire so much as a way to harness that energy and put it to good use.
A great analogy is the rottweiler.
Can these dogs kill people? Absolutely. Can they be dangerous? Sure. But anyone who’s owned a rottweiler before knows that when trained and nurtured correctly, a rottweiler is a big old sweetie with the drive and focus of a ninja.
Aggression isn’t the problem. Violence isn’t the problem. But poor focus and lack of discipline is a problem. Things like MMA are not to blame for what Koppenhaver did to his girlfriend. Aggression is nothing more than energy and, channeled correctly, it becomes creativity, enthusiasm, hard work and joy.
Have combat sports made you more aggressive in daily life?