“To fight is a radical instinct; if men have nothing else to fight over they will fight over words, fancies, or women, or they will fight because they dislike each other's looks, or because they have met walking in opposite directions.” - George Santayana
This year, the astonishing spectacle of the Ultimate Fighting Championship was held in Australia for the first time. The event is brutal and very bloody, attracting thousands of screaming enthusiasts, delirious and drunk with a demonic frenzy propelled by the tall, imposing, tattooed men wrestling one another violently in a caged boxing ring. Skin is savagely torn open, to the crazed delight of the cheering audience, and competitors will often continue to fight in the disorientating daze induced by a severe blow or while covered from head to waist in streams of bright red blood. The debut of the championship, which features fighters competing in various styles of martial arts, has unsurprisingly provoked negative responses across the country, confirming for some the vulgar celebration of violence and blood sports embedded into Australian culture. Damon Young wrote a couple of days ago in the SMH, “Behind this anxiety is a simple idea: violence is always negative. It is anti-intellectual, uncivilised, coarse.” However, with such mindless savagery largely and quite swiftly condemned by its critics, there may be something surprisingly edifying, if not at least reasonable, about the impassioned celebration of raw, physical combat, and the underlying philosophies of martial arts.
|The gritty expression of masculinity through violence|
portrayed in the film Fight Club
Of course, this is combat taught and regulated in a controlled environment. The practice of throwing chairs and beer cups at cheering Queensland fans at the next State of Origin will probably not lead you on a virtuous path of spiritual and intellectual enlightenment. There is one other thing I’ve observed in physical violence, and that is the major differences in fighting styles between the two sexes. I recall in high school when two male friends would come to a disagreement and proceed to tackle one another to the ground, throwing a few punches here and there until all would be well, settled with a handshake, and promptly forgotten. Girls would always be more subtle, but deadlier. Quietly spreading rumours that would spread across the school like an infectious plague and poisoning the minds of mutual friends, perpetrators would effortlessly continue to chatter happily to the unknowing victim, a charade that could carry on for months. Speaking for myself, I think I’d opt for the bruised eye, but I should make a final note: in this day and age one must exercise great caution in condoning any form of violence, as the wrong kind of course often propels the most severe and devastating outcomes.