Destroying Your Meat Vehicle Vs. Developing Your Human Potential
I think I have a not-so-common lens through which to view martial arts training practices. Academically, I have a degree in sport and exercise sciences. Athletically, I started boxing just over 6 years ago, quite late in boxing terms, as a 21 year old. I have been lucky enough to have spent time training in gyms from Holland to San Francisco, Ireland to Boston and so on. This has primarily been practising boxing but more recently it has involved dipping my toes into the MMA world.
And so this is where the internal conflict arises. The exercise scientist part of me sees martial arts as insane. Like, what kind of mad man wants to partake in an endeavour involving the purposeful damaging of humans’ meat vehicles?
But the fighter in me sees martial arts as something much more powerful than simply a sporting endeavour. Those of you who train in combat sports will know what I mean.
Combat sports are a beautiful thing. To paraphrase one of the epicentres of the martial arts world, Joe Rogan; “martial arts are a powerful vehicle for developing your human potential.”
The pressure cooker world of full-contact martial arts is something I have massive gratitude and love for, due to what I have learned about myself, and due to the experiences it has given me. I am especially thankful when I consider the absolutely awesome people I have been fortunate enough to have met and spent time with through the sport (including the great crew of people in the picture below during my time training in El Nino Training Center, San Francisco).
Essentially, I am simultaneously both a scientist who recognizes the insanity of fighting, and a fighter who fucking loves the insanity of being in a good tear up.
It is as a result of this uncommon lens I have that I will attempt to shine some light on the concept of heavy sparring and brain trauma. I will be attempting to use my experiences and knowledge from both my time nerding out on physiology, and taking my lumps in gyms and fights; to look at both the scientific evidence as well as practical issues involved in sparring methodologies. My hope is that with this multi-part series I may be able to provide an educational and practically-useful resource for fighters and coaches to use to aid in maximizing the efficacy of their training practices, while minimizing the damage the training induces. Benefits of this may hopefully lead to improving longevity in the sport as well as long-term health. Just like with any aspect of life, the goal is to find a balance.
Let us begin.