Boys will be boys (or why do men need to fight)
I had twenty-five boys in fight club tonight, twenty-five boys and a girl, and she certainly stood out.
It’s surprising how obvious gender differences are in a ring setting. In the general flow of life in an industrialized society, men and women mingle and merge in their daily routines, doing the same kinds of work, taking on the same kinds of responsibilities, etc. – barely distinguishable. But in the ring environment something different is happening. Here the men take their shirts off, flex their muscles, and get physical with each other in a very primitive and very heterosexual way. Here we play roughly with each other, in a way that inevitably excludes most women and children.
There is something very basic but very beautiful about the ring. The shouts of the combatants date back to a time when women and men knew who they were and what was expected of them as members of their gender. The fight club is a kind of physical probe in the collective subconscious, embodying that repressed memory of a culture in which women fed and nurtured the community while men fought to defend it.
That is why wrestling is such a natural form of rite of passage for young men. Modern Australians desperately need a rite of passage for our young people. Our nation continues to be swept away by waves of teenagers who never become men. They develop adult male bodies, but they are bodies that have never been nurtured with the ideals of a mature community, ideals that are necessary for those bodies to be well utilized.
I seriously believe that our community would benefit enormously if all teenagers, when they reached the age of, say, 16 or 17, were forced to train for a fight.
That wrestling training would be carried out by the boy’s father and the older men in the family, as well as other selected men from the community. When fight day came, the men would meet up with all the boys who had been training and tell them stories, stories of the great Australians who came before them; the men who stormed the beaches of Gallipoli, the men who opened the land for agriculture and industry, the great Aboriginal warriors who fought and died resisting the white invasion. The boys would then dress up in their wrestling gear and be led to the side of the ring where the grown men would push the boys into the center. There they would be forced to rely on their own resources for three rounds, after which they would be welcomed as men, and then perhaps they would be taken to the tattoo parlor to engrave on their skin the date of their fight and perhaps some emblem of courage. . and integrity that had been chosen for them.
It’s all a dream, of course, but it’s great. We get closer every time I take a kid into the ring for the first time, with his father by my side working in his corner. We’ve had wonderful moments like that: great fights fought by great guys who show all the signs of becoming great men.
I claim that we’ve had a 100% success rate in terms of guys that I got involved with in amateur contests that came out of trouble they were in. By the time we get them to the side of the ring, they stopped using drugs, they no longer have problems with the law, they are not causing problems at school, etc. Of course, the difficulty is in taking them that far, and that’s where we could do it with more support from friends and family and less interference from the politically correct.
I am aware of the fact that the focus of my work here is with the boys more than with the girls, but I do believe that the crisis that we are experiencing in our community is with the boys. Most of the time it is children who use drugs. It is the boys who are doing the break and they come in and roll. It is children who get in trouble with the law and children who commit suicide. Of course, none of this should undermine the importance of rites of passage for girls, nor the significant effect that fights in the ring can have on a girl’s life.
In fact, occasionally we have the feisty woman who joins us, but she is a special kind of woman: one who is capable of going toe-to-toe with men, who can receive and punch hard in the nose, and who can. so demand the respect of men.
In my time as a fight coach, I had the privilege of training one of my girls, Wendy, to win the Australian lightweight title in kickboxing. However, she was a special girl. There aren’t many like Wendy. For the most part, the girls just come and sit near the side of the ring and watch with wide eyes as their men beat their chests and punch each other.
What about this girl who first joined us tonight? Could it be another Wendy? It is not probable. She doesn’t look like the part at all. She is a slim Vietnamese girl with a daring hairstyle and a T-shirt that prominently displays the words “Too busy to fuck.”
I told him that if he wanted to train with us he would have to change into a different shirt. I offered him one of our club shirts, the ones with “Christianity with Punch” on the back. Unsurprisingly, she was reluctant to wear it, but eventually put it on. Once we had her in a different shirt, she disappeared from view as the center of everyone’s attention. Still, I suspect that the excellent performance the guys put on tonight was partly inspired by a desire to impress our visitor. You cannot escape the sexual dynamics in this game.
A friend of mine in the military told me that despite all the talk about gender equality in the forces, the Australian military still refuses to allow women to enter the front line, and rightly so. She said that the Israeli experience had been well documented (Israel is one of the only countries that put women on the front line) and that they were experiencing huge problems. He said that, for one thing, the statistics showed that men would always come back for a woman who had been shot, even if she was dead, and even if that put the rest of the squad in grave danger. He also said that the effect on morale of the death of a woman in the front line was much more serious than the effect of the death of any number of men (and morale is considered to be one-third of the fighting force! of any army)! Gender differences just can’t seem to be ignored in a war zone.
I am a huge advocate for women in the fighting arts, and in fact, I have run into trouble with our state government on more than one occasion due to my role in promoting, training, and officiating at women’s wrestling contests (which is still illegal in NSW). But I don’t do this because I think there is no difference between men and women in the ring. In the office there may not be any relevant difference, and in the pulpit I cannot see or hear any, but in the ring, in the most fundamental and primitive arena of human encounter, women are women and men are better than not. to be.