Manvotional: Fighting

by Brett & Kate McKay on March 16, 2013 · 63 comments

in Manvotionals


Editor’s Note: This week’s post on thumos brought to mind this Manvotional. Tom Brown’s School Days was a popular nineteenth-century novel that followed eleven-year-old Tom Brown, as he adjusted to life at a public boarding school for boys and learned how to become a young gentleman. The following excerpt introduces an account of Tom’s only big fight at the school. The headmaster had given him a student to look after, and when a large bully attacked the frail and sensitive boy, Tom stepped in to stop the beating and fight the bully himself.

From Tom Brown’s School Days, 1857
By Thomas Hughes

Let those young persons whose stomachs are not strong, or who think a good set-to with the weapons which God has given to us all an uncivilized, unchristian, or ungentlemanly affair, just skip this chapter at once, for it won’t be to their taste.

It was not at all usual in those days for two schoolhouse boys to have a fight. Of course, there were exceptions, when some cross-grained, hard-headed fellow came up who would never be happy unless he was quarreling with his nearest neighbors, or when there was some class dispute between the fifth form and the fags, for instance, which required bloodletting; and a champion was picked out on each side tacitly, who settled the matter by a good, hearty mill. But for the most part the constant use of those surest keepers of the peace, the boxing-gloves, kept the schoolhouse boys from fighting one another. Two or three nights in every week the gloves were brought out, either in the hall or fifth-form room; and every boy who was ever likely to fight at all knew all his neighbors’ prowess perfectly well, and could tell to a nicety what chance he would have in a stand-up fight with any other boy in the house. But of course no such experience could be gotten as regarded boys in other houses; and as most of the other houses were more or less jealous of the schoolhouse, collisions were frequent.

After all, what would life be without fighting, I should like to know? From the cradle to the grave, fighting, rightly understood, is the business, the real, highest, honestest business of every son of man. Every one who is worth his salt has his enemies, who must be beaten, be they evil thoughts and habits in himself or spiritual wickedness in high places, or Russians, or Border-ruffians, or Bill, Tom, or Harry, who will not let him live his life in quiet till he has thrashed them.

It is no good for Quakers, or any other body of men, to uplift their voices against fighting. Human nature is too strong for them, and they don’t follow their own precepts. Every soul of them is doing his own piece of fighting, somehow and somewhere. The world might be a better world without fighting, for anything I know, but it wouldn’t be our world; and therefore I am dead against crying peace when there is no peace, and isn’t meant to be. I’m as sorry as any man to see folk fighting the wrong people and the wrong things, but I’d a deal sooner see them doing that, than that they should have no fight in them.


{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Xyyme Mogal March 16, 2013 at 11:07 pm

I recall a voice actor from sword fighting video game once responding to a question about him supporting violence because of him voicing the character. He responded “I would rather have a black eye or a broken arm than a damaged ego or a broken heart. I’d rather see kids throw some punches if it keeps them from constantly hurting eachother emotionally.”

I, in my past had a friend who I would fight with often, and we would fight only for the sake of fighting. It was our therapy. If we’d had a rough day, we would go out into the woods in our little makeshift arena, throw a few punches, bleed a bit, and then the world was okay.

The way I feel, is that a fight should never be to settle a problem. I personally will never fight if my heart is racing at all(unless it’s a matter of survival of course). I believe that if your heart is racing(and you’re not in danger) then you are unable of making a logical decision and also unable to win a fight.

Miyomoto Musashi’s Book Of Five Rings taught me a lot about fighting and resolve. Too many people today take that book as symbolism and apply it to business, but it’s great for personal knowledge.

2 Sean+ March 16, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Every coin has at least two sides (five sides is really more like it), as does every issue. Half of me so agrees with this, I almost wanted to stand and cheer while reading it. The other half of me really wants to get to a place where fighting doesn’t even enter into my thoughts. I want men to be, to become, and to remain manly enough to fight the good fight. But so many of the men I have known–not the majority, but m any–take this attitude as justifying brute pugnacity. So, there are many men I would not want to read this to, who would take it as confirmation of their testosterone-fueled jerkishness.

The other side: I’ve got my flaws to fight manfully against; there is injustice and wickedness in the world enough to keep an army busy; and there are indeed those who will give me no peace until they get the trouncing they want and need.

3 Jeff S. March 17, 2013 at 12:01 am

Amen to that. I like that the author starts out talking about physical fighting, but then broadens his meaning to include any kind of fighting — against self or for a cause or for religion. I think every man should be able to hold his own in his a physical fight, but that beyond that, he should be fighting for something, for his family or a political cause…or the return of real manliness! If you don’t have anything you’re fighting for, you’re just taking up space.

4 Latham March 17, 2013 at 4:25 am

After checking your website for about 4 years I am happy to see some posts about fighting because it ties in with a lot of your other posts (thinking specifically about one last month on trusting your gut). First off you should know that I am a bouncer; I get into fights regularly for money. But the goal for me is never to hurt anyone; it’s to protect the innocent. Having paid my way through college as a bouncer for over a year now I can say a lot about fighting but the most important thing I can say is that sometimes it’s the right thing to do. For example two weeks ago I was heading home and saw 3 men trying to jump a pizza delivery driver. There was no way to walk past that; I had to trust myself and jump in. I may have a broken rib but I know I did the right thing. One of the best things I’ve found from fighting is being able to think logically when your adrenaline is maxed out. It’s given me greater self control, trust, and confidence than I ever had before. Of course I’m not saying go out and pick a fight, I’m saying one of man’s many roles is a defender and when you need to be one you should be.

5 Hal March 17, 2013 at 6:07 am

Jeff S said: “…or the return of real manliness! If you don’t have anything you’re fighting for, you’re just taking up space.”

And that is one of the problems I see with men (and women) in the US. Everything is framed in the context of a fight. Competition is set as the loftiest goal to master if you want to be successful in life. Bullsh**.

The people who contribute the most to the world hardly ever do so by contentious behavior. From charitable work to rocket science, every day thousands of people give back to the world with no thought of a fight about it.

There is a time when fighting is necessary and justifiable. A man should be mature enough to know when that time is.

As a veteran I have seen real fighting. I don’t remember who said it, but I always look at fighting like this: Avoid a fight as much as possible. But once in a fight, hold back nothing. Fight with everything you can muster.

6 C. R. Wiley March 17, 2013 at 6:13 am

Cool Hand Luke boxing scene: the greatest fight scene ever. Notice the change in the crowd and the respect that grows for a beaten man who won’t say down. It is not about physical prowess–but indomitable spirit that makes fighting praiseworthy.

7 John March 17, 2013 at 8:00 am

I also miss the days where a serious disagreement would lead to stepping outside, throwing some punches, and resolving the conflict on the spot. Now grudges are carried for entire lifetimes, and hurts and slights linger in our souls and eat away at us. Stress and ambivalence may seem like the opposite of forces, but they both erode the spirit in the same way. I would so much rather get punched in the face, settle the matter, and then move on over a drink.

8 jerry March 17, 2013 at 8:30 am

One must be capable of a serious fight for their lives or the lives of their loved ones.
I have always been intrigued by how the larger stronger man would see the smaller less strong as a dirty fighter when the smaller man picked up a brick or bat to equalize. I myself have fought two or twelve times in my life and I used everything i had to win short of murder.
I am 66 years and a former Marine combat vet and I will do what ever I can to avoid confrontation but if that is impossible I will win or die trying.

9 Patrick March 17, 2013 at 8:42 am

Great post. “The world might be a better world without fighting, for anything I know, but it wouldn’t be our world; and therefore I am dead against crying peace when there is no peace, and isn’t meant to be.” may be the best sentence of the whole thing. Wisdom dictates you live by the rules of the world in which you live and for this present one, that means struggle, toil, and fighting — physically, intellectually, and spiritually. Here’s hoping to a generation of fighters, who know to shun both lurking cowardice and mindless brawling.

10 Jason S. March 17, 2013 at 11:36 am

Every man should known how to defend himself, and let others know he’s not to be bullied. Some may never have a need to fight(physically). I recently found out my son was being bullied at school, and refused to fight back. It’s my belief, and what I told him, “punch him right in the nose! No one should stand and be bullied. Let them know you’re prepared to defend yourself! You may walk away with a black eye, but everyone else will know that messing with you will require a fight. That’s my belief… Even Jesus flipped a few tables over to take a stand!

11 Will Mc. March 17, 2013 at 11:57 am

There are two types of fights. One of anger and aggression, fueled by either hate, rage or deep fear. The other is of a more nobler source based from truth, morals, dignity, assertiveness. Boys will fight either way, but the Man is the one who figures this out and will only engage in the latter.

12 Kevin T. Keith March 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm

It’s impossible not to read this excerpt from “Tom Brown’s Schooldays” without thinking of the Flashman novels by George Macdonald Fraser. I’m sure many AoM readers would appreciate them.

Fraser built a series of a dozen novels around a character named Flashman, a very minor character in “Tom Brown’s Schooldays” who is expelled from the school for bad behavior. Fraser asked what would become of such a boy: the answer was that he would buy a commission in the Army and continue his bad behavior!

The books are supposedly based on the “memoirs” of Flashman, discovered after his death; they detail his military and diplomatic career as he finds himself stumbling into almost every major event of the 19th century. Flashman winds up at the Charge of the Light Brigade, the tragic British retreat from Kabul, the Sepoy Mutiny, the Opium Wars, the Battle at Roarke’s Drift, the US Civil War, John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry, the Little Bighorn, and on and on. He meets every notable character from British and US history of the times and take part in their activities, including Abraham Lincoln, Otto von Bismarck, Sherlock Holmes, etc. A few references to and characters from “Tom Brown’s Schooldays” also appear.

The two great features of the books are (1) Flashman’s character, which is even worse than you could imagine – but no matter how much cowardice, cheating, thieving, and debauchery he gets into, all which are constant, through some hilarious accident he always winds up hailed as a hero though he is not one; and (2) almost every ridiculous, unbelievable, absurdly implausible event and ludicrous and outrageous character description in the books is in fact historically accurate – the books contain footnotes by the “editor” who “discovered” Flashman’s “memoirs,” detailing the actual events mentioned in the books – and you can learn a tremendous amount of real British and American history from them (if you remember to remove the Flashman character from the stories, as he is the only major part of the books that is not real).

The books are hilarious, but Flashman’s behavior is bad, bawdy, and truly offensive. It takes a certain kind of sense of humor to appreciate these books, but they’re worth it. Exciting, amazing, entertaining, and (mostly) true, they are the easiest, funniest, and most outrageous history lessons you will ever take.

The first volume:

13 Brian H March 17, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Thank you so much for posting this! I am a high school science teacher and fighting is taboo nowaays. There is an expectation that students go to teachers and teachers work with administration and parents to prevent the fight. What does that tell young men? Adults will fix everything, don’t worry about those raging hormones and still evolving cognizance of’ll magically figure it out sans trial and error. And oh, by the way teenage boy, since you’ve never been allowed to explore “recess justice” you have no idea what it feels like to dole out justice or be on the receiving end of injustice. And if you have, you’ve simple texted and Facebooked rumors that led to someone else’s suicide.

Fighting sucks. It hurts. If you fight toward a natural, uninterrupted conclusion, odds of you fighting ever again are very low. Boys need to fight, period. Young men need to learn about themselves through fighting. Men fight only when absolutely necessary…because they’ve learned about costs of fighting firsthand…

14 Paul March 17, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Every man should try fighting, even if it ‘only’ in the ring.
I would suggest boxing but Karate or Judo are also good if that is what is available to you.

My first fight is one my most vivid memories. I had never felt so alive, so vital. I lost, by the way.

15 Cary March 17, 2013 at 4:04 pm

The street fighting you do when you’re young teaches you to use your will and your mind and it teaches you humility because no one wins every time. It teaches you where you stack up against other people. There’s no shame in being in the middle or at the bottom of the stack, there are only lessons to be learned and other battle feilds to see where you stack up. There are battlefields of intellect or becoming a good leader or protecting the innocent that don’t look like fighting but they are. Even the Buddhist monk who self emolates to protest violence strikes a blow.

Humans are:
1. Fighting
2. Preparing to fight

16 JOE DIRTE March 17, 2013 at 6:02 pm

A man can only tolerate so much and still have the spirit required for a true life . From loss comes training mental ,(most vital ) and physical .As a 4′ 10 freshman in high school one can imagine , I am a bit more prominent now . This was the result of years of training and learning . At times this is no alternative to beat or be beaten . great post

17 Martin March 17, 2013 at 7:56 pm

I remember 2 guys stepping outside of a bar to fight when I was young. One guy punched the other guy in the face who went down and hit the back of his head on the curb and died.

18 KnowPD March 17, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Great Post! The key take away as a parent is how to temper uncivilized behavior against avoiding tempering the true essence of the spirit. Call me lax, but I favor the spirit over societal norms.

19 Simmons March 17, 2013 at 8:38 pm

it’s interesting how different fighting has become. When I was younger we used to just fight for fun.I had 2 older brothers we were all about 18 months apart so you can imagine the competition. We grew up in a fairly small town and there were a lot of boys are age not to mention we were all big into sports, or so he thought. we use to fight almost daily from the school grounds. at my home it was pretty much a daily occurrence that I would get my butt kicked every day especially by my older brother, he was a punk!! my middle brother was tough but he was about my size. generally used to just help my other brother kick the snot out of me. I’m 37 years old now so that was when we were between the ages of from what I remember 6 years old up until about 13 years old. honestly I can’t remember how many fights actually got in. other than my older brothers those weren’t even fair, the rest of them or just legitimate hey we don’t like each other so let’s fight punch each other in the face stomach head lock whatever. My Father who was in the army for a brief time after World War II was i guess a pretty good boxer. He finally gave us some old boxing gloves because after so many stitches doctor visits did not have enough and he wasn’t gonna stop us from fighting. so what’d we do we started our on Fight Club haha yeah I’m sure many people have their own before the movie! but thats how fighting was it was just a man against another man fist to fist. At least where I come from. oh how things have changed

20 Mikee C March 17, 2013 at 8:40 pm

I don’t like this whole, “In the ol’ days, when we had a problem, we’d hash it out, and forget about it over a drink” NO THANKS. Here’s why. If I’m wronged, i shouldn’t feel better by getting revenge via physical beatdown. I think that makes you a psychopath.
Here’s when it is ok to fight. When protecting yourself or someone else that is being assaulted. Or as a sport where both sides have no suspicious motives other than to win.

21 Weston March 17, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Well said and well written. That book will have to go on my list. Thanks

22 Tom March 17, 2013 at 9:52 pm

I agree with Brian. As a teacher, I’ve seen the boys who don’t know how take and land a blow and for what reasons to do so turn out to be sniveling, grudge-holding, immature males for the most part. Fighting for fighting’s sake is never the answer,but those who I’ve witnessed in the middle of a fight (both growing up and the ones I’ve had to break up) usually grow into young men who understand consequences and the responsibility of standing up for wnat they believe. They tend to be more mature about solving their problems also and learning to fight on all battlefields in life.

23 Kman March 17, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Fighting might work very well for an 11-year old boy in a coming-of-age novel, but it sure as hell stopped being fun once people started carrying knives.

24 dannyb278 March 17, 2013 at 10:21 pm

i might have grown up during the last era where a kid could get into a fight at school and not worry about being shot or stabbed or thrown in jail afterwords. I got in plenty of fights during the late 80′s and early 90′s in my middle school years. Now i can call most of those guys acquaintances if not friends.

25 Janus March 17, 2013 at 10:30 pm

It’s important to distinguish between physical fistfights and conflict in general. I agree that conflict is the stuff of life, and it is to be embraced and mastered. Fistfighting on the other hand is a crude and ineffective way of solving problems, and it should be avoided (unless as a self-defense necessity). Fistfights rarely solve anything–even if you “win,” your enemy is still your enemy, and now he’s pissed off and probably looking to get back at you.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a peace dove by any means–but as men, we need to resolve our conflicts in a more thoughtful and effective manner than butting heads like mountain goats.

26 Nick March 17, 2013 at 11:26 pm

I agree with Janus. Getting involved in physical fights (as opposed to being in non-violent conflict from time to time) indicates being uncivilized and unintelligent. Why else would anyone resort to such a crude form of “problem solving”. Real gentlemen resolve conflict in effective, non-violent ways.

27 Nat March 17, 2013 at 11:37 pm

The male human is the scariest animal on the face of the planet. It has almost no weaknesses because it does not specialize. It does everything rather well. It is big. It is strong. It is fast. It is durable. It runs and climbs and jumps and swims. It throws over-arm, very hard and very accurately. It hunts in coordinated packs. It uses force-multiplying tools. Long before the rise of technology, it defeated every other animal on Earth using little more than sticks and stones. This animal is the ultimate fighting machine.

In the highly artificial condition of today’s civilization it is easy to lose track of this animal, but every man is born inheriting one. It is one’s body, and it comes with every facility and instinct of that killer beast of old. But we ignore it on the couch while our minds drift in vicarious fantasies of tough-guy posturing on the web, invulnerable Hollywood superheroism and video game do-overs. All the while, the beast is desperately gnawing on its chain in the backyard. If one does not walk this beast daily, and regularly take it to a field and let it off the hook so it can run wild, it will go crazy, one day, and break loose and bite a neighbor.

Repressing the fighting instinct of little boys is very dangerous. It produces death-wish young men. Boys must have vents for aggression; the more, the better. Contact sports and martial arts are very good substitutions. However, every boy must find himself in at least one good fistfight. It teaches one his limitations. Until then, one never really knows the First Rule of Fighting: Everybody gets hurt.

28 Sarah March 18, 2013 at 1:43 am

When I lived in Alabama, my friends and I used to fight all the time to relieve stress… then we moved to Massachusetts and I got a rude awakening when none of the other girls wanted to fight ever and thought fighting was dirty and gross. I miss it, but I’d get beat up in a second if I ever started a fight now, since I stopped growing at 5’0″. :/

29 marc March 18, 2013 at 3:07 am

There are fights, and fights. Unless you’re really in danger or feel that you must help someone who is, fights should be avoided in this day and age when you stand a good chance of running into somebody with a gun or a knife. Sometimes, however, if you’re dealing with the right person, it can definitely solve a festering conflict. The other day at a meeting at work (I’m a college teacher) a colleague made some remarks that I found offensive, so I asked him whether we should settle this in the courtyard. He agreed, so we both left the room and headed for the stairs. By the time we were half way down the steps we had ironed out our differences. When I said that if he was really “itching for it” we could proceed with our fight, but he felt that there was no point now. So we returned to the room and made a show of shaking hands. Ever since, we get along fine. Now I might add that we both work in France, that my colleague is a Scot, I’m of Scots-Irish descent, and that some of our French colleagues were appalled by our behavior. The others (Irish for the most part) thought we had done the right thing! So with the right person (who won’t pull an automatic or switchblade on you) sometimes to step outside actually clears the air. Of course we’ll never know who would have been the winner!

30 Ed March 18, 2013 at 3:27 am

I had my fair share of fist fighting when I was a young lad.

In my personal opinion, what separates a man from a gentleman is to know when to back out, when to fight and when to end. Don’t fight when you are provoked, you fight when it is necessary (to protect and to uphold what is right), once your opponent is down, you let go and walk away.

I do believe that a part of being a gentleman is being civil and at the same time knowing when to use force.

31 Cody March 18, 2013 at 8:37 am

It’s alllll about combat sports, gentlemen.

1) You will actually learn to fight, instead of just thinking you can
2) It teaches you stress management and what failure feels like
3) It puts you above 95% of the population, physically

32 Rob March 18, 2013 at 9:47 am

So Say We All, Cody. Nothing takes the romance out of street fighting like getting knocked on your butt a few times in the dojo. Training is usually safe, but once in a while, a blow is going to come full-power that will serve as a vivid reminder that it hurts to get hit.

A buddy of mine said, a bad beatdown taught me that I’m willing to buy every mofo in the bar a beer before I’ll get punched in the face.

33 Mountainman Sam March 18, 2013 at 10:20 am

I’ve only been in one fight my whole life and it was to protect the honor of two girls I know that where being harassed by 2 men. I’m 6’10” 205lbs so typically I can talk guys down, but in this case one of the men took a swing at me when I told them to stop. 5 seconds later he was on the ground with a black eye puffing up and I had the other guy’s wrist in a “goose neck” and was about to break him when my brain turned back on. It gave me confidence in my ability to overcome trouble but at the same time scared me that I could click in to violent action so fast! What creped me out more was that I actually enjoyed the experience. There is something exhilarating about being up against unfavorable odds and yet persevering. The girls told me I started to smile as soon as the first guy took a swing, continued my “scary smile” during the whole encounter and it didn’t leave my face until I had both the men on the ground and the fight was over. I think that there is something deep inside every man that revels in fighting for something that seems a good cause, whether that is protecting someone weaker then themselves or standing up for what one believes in. Usually these conflicts are intellectual and can be overcome through discussion (or at least that has been the case for myself) but every now and then, we have to step up and be willing to risk ourselves for a greater good. I’m so glad that I didn’t follow through with the wrist snap as this would have become a lot more complicated, but I hope that maybe the two men will think twice about miss treating a woman in the future.

34 James Cornwell March 18, 2013 at 10:42 am

I’ve been an instructor in a combat sport for all of my adult life (24+) years. I’ve learned a great many important lessons from from the practice, and one of them is that fighting is not inherently evil, but fighting without rules *is*. With the right combat sport and the right instructor/s, you can learn everything you need to defend yourself should the moment arise, but still not risk your life or grave injury doing something foolhardy.

35 Joseph Phillips March 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm

I would like to start by saying thank you to Hal, Will Mc, Brian H., Tom, and Latham. Your posts were great.
I was born and raised in Alaska, and I got in a few fights myself, most of which I lost. I never regretted getting into them in the first place however. Fighting can teach you many very valuable lessons that you cannot get anywhere else, one of the best of which is when to fight. When you are born you are the most self-centered creature on the planet. The whole world revolves around you. As you grow into a man you learn to put yourself aside in favor of more important things. This is most clearly learned in fighting. A boy fights for himself, and a man fights for others. A gentleman can brush off almost any insult about himself, or any offence given to him. He looks to solve his disputes through peaceable means, and to keep himself at a higher standard then most people. He does not look down upon them, but he does expect more of himself then he does of anyone else.
As Latham said, however, “One of the best things I’ve found from fighting is being able to think logically when your adrenaline is maxed out. It’s given me greater self control, trust, and confidence than I ever had before. Of course I’m not saying go out and pick a fight, I’m saying one of man’s many roles is a defender and when you need to be one you should be.”
A real man is prepared to use any method necessary to protect others. He prefers to talk his way out of an engagement, but he is not above using physical prowess to make his point, if that is the only way to make the other person understand his commitment to his honor code. The first point on any honor code that I support is the protection, support and respect of women, girls, and children. I firmly believe that every one who calls himself a man should be able and prepared to fight in any situation, but also able and prepared to hold himself in check.

36 Old Guard March 18, 2013 at 2:57 pm

I often enjoy reading the comments posted beyond the verbiage of an AOM article, but this one has be pursed. “Make love not war,” “Only crude animals could/would resort to violence.”

Give me a break, you bleeding hearts.

The article is hardly about the rights and wrongs; merely of the height of tradition, and a lesson of resolve. As a species, we were brought into this world to kill. For our food, for our domain, for our extension. Our society now stands on the pillars of such ‘evolution’, but it’s this bleached-out, castrated sense of entitlement and convenience, that has most by the balls.

I do favor the note above, about ‘emotional’ destruction, versus the physical. How many kids have chosen the ‘easy’ way out, because they were emotionally bullied?? Now lets look to the flip side: When was the last time you heard of one taking their life due to a tussle??

We’ve raised a soft generation, full of malcontents, and those incapable of accountability and resolve. Parents have let slip the ways of the past, comforting instead of hardening.

The above was certainly about the toils of two boys becoming men, but it is so much more than that. So much more. These are strong lessons lost to dilution and laziness. Let this article carry over as a parallel to all forms and functions.

…and pardon the language, but to those who read these articles nodding to the tune, but marching to another…you need to put down the scotch you can’t yet stomach, and harden the f*ck up like our fathers did.

The loss of man has become more than a bitter phase; it has become the mask of a trend. Knowing the words, and singing a song in tune are two greatly different ideas. Remember that kids.

37 Ken March 18, 2013 at 3:14 pm

I got into my first fist fight at 4 or 5. I had a bully neighbour who used to steal my toys and beat me up. My mom said make a fist and hit him in the face. I did, square in the nose, and he never bothered me again. I’m older now and have never started a fight, but always ended them except a few. There are times when one has to fight or get beat up. I joined the army and spent 3 years there, and had to fight. Learning it was a necessary evil made it much easier to do when I had no choice.

38 tim_lebsack March 18, 2013 at 3:18 pm

For some wisdom regarding boys (and men) fighting – go to YouTube. Search “How Green Was My Valley Part 5″ Start at 8:30.

39 John M. March 18, 2013 at 3:40 pm

I want the location of this fantasy land everyone is living in, where exchanging blows “settles” anything. In the middle ages, knights fought to settle questions because they thought God always intervened on the side of the righteous party, so the loser accepted defeat as a divine judgment. In the Victorian era, there was a strong enough societal code to accomplish the same thing. This mainly meant that taller, larger men were often perceived as more virtuous because they won fights more frequently.
Today, the loser has the option of simply carrying on the conflict alter using a weapon, ambush, or the help of his friends. This is called GANG WARFARE and it’s a serious problem.
The idea that we, or our children, will be able to reach back to some forgotten code of conduct, drag it kicking and screaming into the 21st century, impose it on our adversaries, and use it to settle minor playground or workplace squabbles, is sheer fantasy.
As a Christian, I cannot condone violence of any kind in my own protection. That being said, OF COURSE there is a time to fight. Primarily when protecting the weak. But if something is serious enough to fight over, it is serious enough to kill over. If you see a man preying on a child or a family member, you do not risk further harm to the child, or to yourself, by “grappling” with him. You give one warning, then you seize a weapon or anything else available, and kill him. If you draw a weapon, you shoot to kill. There is no other reason to HAVE a weapon. Of course you will have to bear the consequences imposed by society, but that’s called HONOR.
In cases where the weaker party is not so disadvantaged as to be at risk of grievous bodily harm, then you can either call the police or interpose yourself between the parties.

40 Fred March 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm

I’ll just say this, your desire to engage in any form of physical violence changes when you’re getting the crap beat out of you regularly by a parent or loved one. Doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t fight, but I’m an adult now and have neither the want or need to fight. Another aspect to consider is that a punch can kill. I have a family that relies on me for support, you try to attack me/fight me, I’ll put a bullet in you and call it a day.

41 Strangely Brown March 18, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Si vis pacem, para bellum.

42 Fearless March 18, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Agree with the concept of fighting for what you believe in, but that’s as far as I can go. I used to enjoy the occasional scrap, but after I read The Little Black Book of Violence I instantly reversed my decision. Even if you do “win” one or both of you could end up maimed, crippled, or worse. Lawsuits, prison, hospice, the costs are too high these days.

43 NHeinz March 19, 2013 at 6:35 am

If your life is in danger fine to fight back but otherwise walk away. An acquaintance of mine was out on the town one night and got into an argument and punches were exchanged, the other guy fell and struck his head on the pavement and died at the scene. Could you live with yourself after that? And face 10+ years in prison! Walk away.

44 Jason March 19, 2013 at 7:33 am

This is interesting, I’m just starting to think about this as Christian. I’ve posted an introductory blog article here:

You’re welcome to follow it, and share your thoughts.

45 August Sorensen Traen March 19, 2013 at 7:58 am

this author really gets it. he understands that beliving in a time where people do not fight is impossible to achive. many wants peace, me being one of them. but we need to understand that no matter how much we wish it it will never ever happen

46 Aaron March 19, 2013 at 4:59 pm

…and Non-violence is an OK way to go, too!

47 EricV March 20, 2013 at 8:53 am

I wonder how many of these commenters have ever struck a blow with any intent. I think not many from some of the ridiculous comments. You are in more danger driving to work than you are in a fight, many times more.

48 Matthew March 20, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Now that I’m an adult with responsibilities, I would never fight except in self defense where escape is impossible. This bravado of, “Well, let’s just step outside and settle this like men” is ridiculous. For one, as mentioned, you can easily kill an unprepared (or drunk) person with a sharp blow to the head or neck. Hope your family is ready to assist you through the legal system. Heck, just getting arrested for assault would be bad enough. Better to think first.

49 NAVY JACK March 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm

My mother taught me to fight. She was orphaned in the 1930s in a very tough area of Alabama. She had three brothers and two sisters – - no male in her community dared mess with the girls because they knew that her brothers would kill them… literally.

Her rule of pugilism, which I vividly remember learning around the age of seven: don’t talk, hit first, get your opponent to the ground, gouge the groin or the eyes, dont’ stop until they stop screaming, when you get up land solid kicks to ribs, make sure they don’t get up.

When I was seven, my brother put this rule to good use when the high school quarterback called him a “queer.” I clearly remember going with my mother to the high school to pick up my brother – - the high school principal and football coach met us at the door and proceded to tell her that the quarterback was at the hospital and that my brother’s excuse was that he was only doing as his mother had told him. My mother, and I shit you not, said the following: “You’re damn right that’s what I told him, and if that little shitass bothers him again I’ll come back here and beat him myself.”

My mother certainly had her problems, but both of her sons grew ready, willing and able to fight. She taught us what it was to take a stand, and if necessary, take a beating. I see so many young men today who would rather piss their pants than take a punch. That’s a sad commentary on our culture, both where we are and where we’re going.

50 Eric March 21, 2013 at 3:13 am

I am someone who has never walked away from a fight and I can say it has caused as much emotional pain in some cases as if I had walked away. I will not say however that fighting is completely wrong. I also feel the word “fight” is misconstrued a lot. Someone said that Americans believe everything is a fight. Here are some words from a great man who did a lot for people: “I am not trying to abolish conflict. There is great value in healthy conflict. And the dangers of group-think are real. Conflict can inspire creative leadership. Where there are fundamental conflicts over values, they should not be ignored in a sentimental yearning for consensus. The problem in our communities today is not that we have conflict, but that we manufacture conflict and exaggerate differences to the point where it is very difficult to make meaningful change. Too often we abandon basic civility and cannot disagree without questioning the motives of our adversaries. Our standard as we debate should be similar to doctors’ Hippocratic Oath: “Do no harm.” Disagree, but don’t tear the community apart as you do.”
— Frederick Douglas in a speech in 1857

FIghting can mean conflict many different cases. There is also the point that humans at a fundamental level are geared for competition and conflict. We are animals. I enjoy fighting, not for the sake of hurting people. If you have ever taken martial arts you understand what I mean. You fight until you no longer have to.

51 Chester March 21, 2013 at 3:41 pm

One thing not explicitly stated on either side but only somewhat alluded to is that fighting was a means of discipline. When someone’s behavior was too offensive to let stand, while not necessarily illegal, the challenge to the fight was issued to make it clear what the consequences of continuing that behavior was (shame – as per the series on honor). It was to allow someone to follow proper behavior for the least reason: to avoid punishment, when they found themselves unable to do so for better reasons.

52 Erik March 21, 2013 at 5:17 pm

I agree that boys naturally like to fight and I think there needs to be less of a crackdown on fighting and more on bullying. IMHO schools really punish kids for fighting but dont’ always protect them from bullying which is a bad mix.

THAT SAID I think fighting should be discouraged. I got in a lot of fights as a kid (in forth grade a day didn’t go by that I wasn’t in a fight-often three or four in a day). Then in High School they were less frequent but more serious. I wish my Father would have steered me more away from fighting. Not much good came of it, and a lot of bad came. I was luck enough never to get hurt, but I saw a lot of people hurt pretty bad in High School. Then I failed any work I missed while suspended from school. I also fought with people I should have been frinds with.

53 Ryan March 24, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Fighting and advocating are not synonymous, and they are not synergistic in the long run. There is definitely a context for taking a warrior stance, often by forming a polemic in opposition to a dominant culture, (e.g. the Stonewall riots, fighting for a space to be gay in a place where the police have a “right” to shut them down) but advocating and community building are far more productive means to resolving an issue. Entering into a debate with the intent to “fight for a cause” prepares your mind to de-empathize with other positions, making your rhetoric hyperbolic and essentially positioning yourself to make ignorant claims and let your biases rule your perception. If we emphasize community building, we prepare our minds to seek out where each other is coming from when we listen and speak, recognizing your role as an individual while simultaneously appreciating the fact that you are part of and contribute to a collective.

54 Stein March 29, 2013 at 10:52 am

Fights are an essential part of growing up. It helps a boy discern what deserves an argument and what does not, it establishes a sense of justice, courage, and the ability to tolerate pain. As a boy i whooped a lot of butts and got my butt whooped on many occasions. I have to say I got a lot of pleasure out of it, even though it sometimes ended in assuming a position to get my butt whooped once more by a school official..

55 jerrid March 30, 2013 at 1:51 am

I would agree fighting is apart of being a man and forging relationships my best friend when first spent the night at his house at 7th grade we comensed to fighting and from that moment we have been friend and all my closest friends have fought at one point or the other

56 Mitch April 8, 2013 at 9:06 pm

I grew up on “Tom Brown’s School Days” — my dad started reading me the bstories wwhen I was maybe 8, and I found them enthralling, and I was especially fascinated by the famous fight. I begged my dad, who had boxed both intercollegiate and Golden Gloves, to teach me how, and after he taught me the basic moves I started formal boxing lessons at 11.
When I was in my teens and realised I was gay, and others began to realise it as well, I was very grateful for having been taught not just to box but to fight. Nothing deters a wannabe bully l;ike a straight right to the face that flattens his nose. I admit, I had something of a chip on my shoulder, which worked itself out when I started to box amateur myself. I am not a “turn the other cheek” kind of guy, and I think all boys should be taught how to fight and not to be intimidated. I coach at a boxing gym as a volunteer, and it is gratifying to see a kid who lacks faith in himself grow confident because he knows how to defend himself.

57 B April 15, 2013 at 12:16 pm

“Your very nature itself will drive you to fight. The important thing is what you choose to fight against.” — The Bhagavad Gita

58 MC April 27, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Growing up in a military family, I have always tried to fight. However, I have a neurological quirk which makes me extremely clumsey. I spar regularly and lose almost every time. I am now at a point where my inability to fight makes me question my worth as a man. I have literally turned down girls for dates because I feel I am not capable of protecting them. Does anyone have any advice? Perhaps I am just not fighting enough and need to train harder.

59 NoSelf April 30, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Fighting…ah the good ol days…gives me a woody thinkin bout it. It was really cool being a designated punching bag for no other reason than I was small and ugly. I was able to fortify and build the egos of many a fine young man through my punch-absorption techniques…like fluffers in a porno film we smaller wussy boys had our job to do…take it, love it and shut up.
I had “teachers” and coaches just like you guys, but like most wussies, I failed to see the man-building potential it had. I guess I lost a teachable moment there. Most of us were able to carve out an honorable life in spite of our beatings, and no thanks to the likes you so called teachers. You all go on with such bravado about your own toughness and distain for those sniveling little cowards. There is someone even tougher right now remembering a much different story about each one of you I’ll bet.
Had a buddy in high school, good lookin stud, well chiseled athlete. He used to fight all the time just for the fun of it (to relax after football). One day he put another dude in a comma and had to face his family. There after he just drank himself into the mud at parties, cried and fought even more just to feel something…he went off to Nam and that was the last we saw of him.
Spent the 60′s and 70′s in the Catholic school system. Between my dad whippin me for failing grades and nun’s smackin us with rulers for not walking in lines correctly, and a long spate of ambush nut-kicking, I finally made to an all-boys high-school for some real manly beatings. Far superior to those lesser beatings.
The cool thing was that we “sniveling little wussies” were give slack by the brothers, they understood, but if you were one of the toughs you had two options, suspension OR a ring fight w/gloves against one of two brothers who were each golden-glove boxers…sweet revenge.
Thing is, when I look at all the alumni data and talk to others, about 30% of the fighters went to Nam and died or came home wasted, a few went to prison, a few died in bars, the majority just become fat old married men with families and crappy jobs, bitching about how wussy their sons are, whining about a wussy society and lamenting the good old days of kickin ass. Sound familiar?
So I guess you could say that no greatness ever came out of it. Nothing whatsoever good or great was accomplished. A lot pain and anguish did happen. So I would say it was a net loss of human potential overall.

60 Serafin May 21, 2013 at 8:35 am

This article makes me think of when I was 5… maybe 6 years old. I was the youngest kid of the block and was picked on a lot by the kids who were 2 or 3 years older than me. I complained to my mom about it and she told me the next time someone picks on me, either kick him in the nuts or find a large stick and bash him with it… So that is what I did. My dad always told me that if someone wants to hit me or fight me that he means to hurt me and that I should put him down as quickly as possible.

There are really two kids of fighters. The vast majority are those who get off on it… either the fight itself or the feeling of dominance over another human being. The other is the very small group of people who fight only to protect themselves and their families.

61 Brent June 4, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Fighting, I think, is a thing to be avoided. But it should absolutely be something every man should be prepared and ready to do.

And in the end, I would prefer a humanity that is willing to actually RISK something than one that isn’t. This includes all forms of fighting.

62 Allen June 13, 2013 at 2:25 pm

@NoSelf , you are missing the point completely. You have experienced severe bullying and abuse. The majority of the fighting that the article advocates is not even a physical brawl. And of all the other posters hear speaking of fighting, none are saying that young boys should go and beat up smaller kids. I’m sorry you endured that, but a physical altercation among equals with fairly level heads can provide some benefit.

63 Kalan July 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Hey MC

I am in the same boat with you, I think you just have to keep going, and have you thought about taking up Judo or grappling on the side as well?

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