I recently started a boxing routine with the Warriors Boxing club in Vancouver. I’m not planning to actually compete (brain damage and hurting someone else freak me out), but it has been very rewarding to find out how hard I punch. In reflecting on why I enjoy the training so much (something I’ve been told is a “guy thing”) I think it has something to do with the fact that it’s very easy to go through life without knowing how hard you punch. It’s a metaphor we can apply to lots of things in life where we don’t really know our true mettle. It’s that disconnect between the status quo and a more primitive part of ourselves that makes stories like Fight Club so successful, and it’s why I can watch various fight scenes in movies, or boxing on TV, with a mix of enjoyment and discomfort – enjoyment for the raw connection and exertion of will – and discomfort with the physical violence or abuse of power.
I’m not condoning violence here, but I am encouraging exploration or consideration of more primitive parts of ourselves, not properly exercised and perhaps manifested in a passive aggressive fashion in other parts of our lives. As humans we have a desire for ritual (the reason professional sports has legions of fans), and I think finding healthy outlets to exercise that desire (and ourselves) is a great thing.
Here’s a video redux of two movie “fights” I’ve recently watched: