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Rage in Martial Arts and Self-Defense


I’m warning you know – this is a different type of article talking about rage, anger, and fear. And thinking about how we can apply it to martial arts and fighting.

There is this speech I just watched on Kai Greene talking about Ronnie Coleman (see below). Both of these men are world class bodybuilders. Kai is talking about the "insanity" of placing 800lbs on your back and squatting for reps until something goes wrong. For those of you who haven’t watched Ronnie Coleman lift, it’s awinspiring. Please watch it first, then continue one.

The speech about "Rage" also applies to a marital artist, an MMA fighter, a solider, a cop, or anyone who competes and performs at a high level.

  • What drives this person to perform where others can’t?
  • What makes this person go the extra mile?
  • What makes this person not quit?

Personally, I am familiar with this feeling of "Rage" and "Aggression" or what I call "The Animal" side. I used to be very free with this side and often times like it come out in the wrong ways (stupid street fights, drinking, hitting useless objects, etc). When I started training martial arts seriously, the animal became more controlled and buried, it had an outlet. The problem now, is actually brining the animal back when it needs to come back.

For those of you who know, I have had one professional MMA fight about this time last year. I lost that fight – it was a great learning experience and now I am accepting of that lose. But – I remember during the fight, one particular moment when the animal came out. We had just separated from the clinch against the cage and I just attacked him with a series of punches and strikes. He quickly re-clinched and I made a stupid mistake. After that, I was unable to bring it back and make use of it. It is one thing that I continue to wonder about today. Would my outcome have been different if I was "raging" the whole time? I know most of it was due to a lack of strength on my part (I dropped 67 lbs and lost a good portion of my strength), but still I wonder.

As martial artists, especially in jiu-jitsu, we are taught that control, discipline, and flow wins the fight. But, if I bury the animal, am I using all of my skills? A MMA fight is a safe test of one’s fighting ability. There really is no risk of getting hurt. But a street fight, well that’s different.

My point of this message is that as warriors we need to be in-tune with our animal, with our rage, our warrior spirit. We need be able to call upon it and learn to use it. Most of you men know exactly what I am talking about. You’ve had those moments of POWER, of being on the edge of control; yet loving it. When or if we ever have to face a life or death situation, you need to call upon your animal or the warrior inside of you, and use it to defeat your advesary.

Some of you may ask – how do I cultivate this spirit, this animal, this rage. The answer – I don’t know. My suggestion at first would be to go the gym and lift heavy like you’ve never lifted before. Think about your wife or mother being attacked. Think about someone killing your dog, your cat, your loved one. Take that anger, FEAR, hurt, rage and apply it to what is in front of you. This has personally worked for me in that past, but I have also gotten better at just pysching myself up now for the lift.

I don’t suggest doing this in a martial arts atmosphere at first until you’re able to recognize and control your aggressive towards others. Applying anger and rage to a training session is never a good thing. But – learning to recognize it and call upon it when need is a good thing. But I personally have been trying to "step-up" the level with only a few training partners. These are people that I have mutual respect for and am comfortable going hard with. I do NOT suggest this for a new student or a beginner.

Lastly – I think Fear is a very, very powerful weapon. But – it’s a weapon I use against myself. I scare myself about the situation to increase my adrenaline and ability to perform. And when I conquer that fear, I have broken a barrier down that now allows me to perform at even a higher level. Conquering your fear, learning to use it’s power will make you a better person, a better marital artist, and a better warrior.

For your viewing pleasure.

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Matt Bryers
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About me:

  • Certified H2H Combat instructor in the H2H System
  • 2nd Degree Black Belt in Kobukai Ju-Jitsu
  • Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  • Competitor in Jiu-Jitsu, Grappling and MMA
  • Operated Self-defense and Ju-Jitsu School in Cromwell, CT

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