Punch First, Ask Questions Later.

Via Tanya Lee Markul
on Aug 31, 2011
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Modern Gladiator, Human Cockfighting, Emotional Instability?

Ultimate fighting, cage fighting, mixed martial arts, whatever you call it, is brutal and its most prominent feature is what seems to be America’ s entertainment drug of choice: violence.

For those of you who don’t know much about it, ultimate fighting is a one-on-one full contact combat sport from a mix of traditional and non-traditional fighting techniques. Opponents are put into a ring or a ‘cage’ and fight until one of them either gets knocked out, submits or time runs out.

No blood lusting audience, no sport? According to Wikipedia, the first season of the reality show Ultimate Fighter drew millions of viewers. And well, sure, if you don’t like it, you simply don’t watch it, but isn’t there something that feels pretty scary knowing that our species of millions enjoys watching two men beat each other to a pulp?

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So, why is it scary? Is it because blood sports are a sign of cultural decay or a decline of American moral? Both? Crime rates are rising, senseless acts of violence are everywhere, brutal and irrational force is prevalent in every media source on a minute-by-minute basis. It’s everywhere, even on sitcoms that look innocent at first until someone gets punched, slapped, scratched, clocked or jabbed – first, before questions are asked.

I can’t help but to think that this sport (and the rest of the violence-driven entertainment industry) isn’t helping to balance out the imbalance that so obviously exists on our planet.

The truth of the matter is, violence is horrifying and REAL. It’s more than just a hypnotizing box that breaks for fast food commercials. It’s war, it’s abuse, it’s rape, it’s neglect, it’s bullying and sadly enough, this list goes on and on. Why would we also need to be entertained by it? 

So why does it exist?

I read that there here was an estimated 36 million acts of violence reported in 2007 in the United States.

There are many reasons, influences and explanations, but one idea is that we are feeling devices that think. We often feel first, think later. So, in a world of suppression and violence of every degree, it is no surprise that most of the feelings we have and experience are those of attachment, anger and fear (how do you feel after watching the news?). All of these feelings (or emotional states) are associated with our response pattern to fight or flightand our entertainment industry reflects precisely this state.

Fight of flight is important, but even more so is rest and digest (and this does not mean sitting on the couch finishing off a large cheese pizza). Fight or flight is helpful if we’re running away from a hungry bear, a dangerous spider or an ominous situation, but not necessarily when confronted with another human being at the gas station or grocery store. We’re exhausting fight or flight on every level (road rage, impatience, self deprecation, etc, etc) and not even coming close to tapping into the benefits of rest and digest (maintaining blood pressure, heart rate, optimal digestion, breathing rate and an overall ability to cope).

So do we want to be known as ‘America the Violent’? Or should we start considering that being exposed to unnecessary violence is perhaps over-stimulating our instinct to fight or flight? Perhaps it is time to hone the instinct to rest and digest for a while and only fight or flight when it is truly required.

Photo credit: Cartoon couple; Ultimate fighting


About Tanya Lee Markul

Luring the magic of what is natural back into our daily lives, Tanya Markul is a freer of creativity, of inner beauty + power, and an enthusiastic igniter of the wild spirit! She re-writing the wild flower sutras, and offers a refreshing & badass view on spirituality, wellness & authentic living. Sensitivity is her tree trunk, flower stem, and nucleus. It is her belly, and her heart. Tanya is an artist of life, a faery of trees, a wanderer of the dark, a writer of heart, a misfit yogini, and an Urban Priestess apprentice. She believes in the power of your personal weird, quirky, magic, and that only path toward inner freedom & light, is through the dark — eyes closed, heart open. Tanya is the creator of The Urban Howl, Yoga Write Now & Waking Wild. Join her free forum for monthly yoga & writing practices here. Join her free forum for 30 days of exercise for 30 days here. Join her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & get her free weekly & quirky newsletter here.


16 Responses to “Punch First, Ask Questions Later.”

  1. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Hi hkoren. I appreciate your views and I appreciate you taking the time to comment. By no means was I placing character judgment on the MMA fighters – I'm sure some of them are like you say, humble and likeable and I am sure they are quite skilled (and I am sure many are recruited for the pay check). I'm just not sure watching this sort of violence is an outlet for as you say, a suppressed killer instinct, but perhaps a suppression of something else (things like truth, creativity, love, finding one's self, etc). Sure, I'm sure the guys that are fighting are indeed releasing some sort of pent up energy, but this shouldn't set an example for how the audience should deal with their own ‘suppression’, should it?

    On that note, and I suppose there are many different opinions on this, but I don't agree with you about this killer instinct. I think it's something that has been used to actually justify acts of violence not only toward nature and animals but toward ourselves. I don't believe humans have this innate killer instinct, not in that way. I, in fact, believe that after years upon years upon years of suppression we've lost touch with who we truly are – wise, peaceful, creative beings and have therefore in a way, downgraded ourselves to this fight or flight mentality. I simply don't have it in me to believe we are untamed forces of destruction and violence that desire violent outlets , well, only perhaps if we are living in a constant state of fight or flight.

    I am just wondering – why do I not feel the way that you do? Why do I not have a desire to kill things? What is it that makes us different?

  2. Ryd says:

    Great article. I have to agree with the author although I can relate to being fascinated with the sport myself. I think that people are watching increasingly more violence on TV and I also think it can have an unfortunate effect on people – at the very least it is numbing us and tearing us away from what really happens in the world around us. I certainly don’t like when rock bands or violent sports or computer games are blamed for the atrocious acts of troubled individuals, who obviously had issues to begin with. But I also believe that we are affected by most things we choose to see or do in however small a way.

    I can fully understand that practising MMA or boxing can represent a great outlet for aggression (as hkoren says in his response) but I don’t believe that ‘watching’ it live or on TV represents the same outlet. Soccer represents a great energy outlet, when you practise it yourself, but that doesn’t make hooligans refrain from beating each other up after the game.

    Whether we have a killer instinct that needs and outlet, I am not sure. Killing for food or status in a tribe – as I imagine was normal before civilization – seems to me a necessity to survive or to carry on your genes (like we see it among many animal species) more than an inevitable instinct. And I have to point out that most people are able to control this instinct… or simply lack it.

    I don’t believe that violence on TV should be censored. People should be able to choose for themselves. Let’s just hope they choose wisely :)

  3. Dario.Jovovic says:

    The only cure is in ultimate laughing.

  4. toddtheyogi says:

    this article sounds alot like yogis moralizing about the path of martial artists. am i misreading? i admire fighters like G.St-Pierre who shows respect for the art and his opponents, no matter how disrespectful his opponents become. similar to the code of the samurai.
    the larger question for me is whether the yogis believe in satyagraha (for everyone at all times) or whether there are indeed things worth fighting for? if there are, is it only then that we require the warriors? and until then we will discuss how they ought to behave?
    this goes right to the root of the questions Arjuna asked, in a sense, doesn't it? the question i suppose is whether there actually is a "warrior dharma" and if so, how do they fit into this picture?
    these are my honest reflections… my beliefs on this subject are not well formed. but i do look forward to hearing what you think…

  5. warriorsaint says:

    I've read this post a couple of time to try to get it's salient points. Does the writer see MMA as bad because it's "violent, horrifying and REAL?" I certainly agree with YogaForCynics that the media in this country (and many others) have sensationalized crime for the sake of cultivating a culture of fear. My neighborhood here in the New York area was a war zone until a few years ago, along with many other urban areas around the country.
    With a screename of warriorsaint it is no that secret that I am a martial artist. As a strong woman there are few situations more thrilling then the controlled battle of sparring another in the capoeira roda (circle). After 17 years of capoeiraI feel I have better control of my emotions. Martial arts are not random bouts of angry violence. Maybe it's the raw competitiveness that scares you?

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