They are so aggressive! If you walk an elementary school campus, this is a complaint that you will hear several times throughout the course of a day. The traditional response in our modern era is some form of discipline or stern talking to that encourages the suppression of aggression. From a young age, some of us have been taught to shove that feeling down. Stifle it and hopefully, by pretending it doesn’t exist, it will just go away. Aggression has been demonized in our culture as a manifestation of “toxic masculinity” (on a side note, merely typing those words sends a cold, violent shiver down my spine). Given a bad rap as a negative trait of those knuckle dragging, bro tank wearing, energy drink chugging agro dudes, we shun our aggression. I would contend that contrary to popular belief, mastery of our aggression is an art form. A fixture for our tool belts that, when properly applied, can invoke a powerful benefit to our personal defense, physical training routines and increase our motivation levels across the board.
A good outlet are shooting competitions and healthy competitions in general
Aggression has a tendency to be the face of any number of unbridled emotions, sadness, anger and disappointment to name a few. It can be manifested in some of the deep pain brought on by any number of traumatic experiences, abuse, post traumatic stress disorder or any other highly emotional event in which there was no healthy outlet or release. When these types of emotions or traumas are left unchecked, aggression has this uncanny ability to be triggered by the slightest of external causation and become suddenly and violently explosive. This can yield a self-destructive lifestyle in which we try to tame the beast through isolative and antisocial behaviors as well as substance abuse. I imagine the man who tries to calm his aggression is similar to trying to calm a dog down by placing a leash around one of its hind legs. Sure, it stops the dog from running free, but the entire time that it’s leashed, it’s frantic and panicked thrashing about trying to get free.
So, the question becomes, how do we manage this volatile and potentially dangerous thing that’s inside of us? I want to draw a parallel here. I want us to pretend that we are managing a house. Within this house, everything that makes us who we are has a place. Also living in this house is a monster that we will name Aggression. Now, knowing what we know about Aggression, he has the ability to be detrimental to every other tenant within the house but we have to find a place for him to live.
Weighing all of the options, we find two possibilities left. The first is that we lure him into the basement, place him in shackles, and run out of the basement closing the door as fast as we can and bar it up. The danger in this is that eventually, the chains will wear thin, Aggression will learn how strong it is and eventually come bursting through the basement door where it can then wreak havoc on every other tenant within the home. The alternative option is that we prepare a room for Aggression. We allow him to become familiar with the other tenants within the home, but he doesn’t get to dominate them. He spends most of the time within his room except for when we open the door and train with him. Then he goes back in.
Training the monster can look like many things. Physical training, is one. I am not talking about running laps. Though running has it’s place in the regiment, we need to have a place where we can turn our aggression lose on another object. Weight lifting, boxing and grappling are great avenues for this. I’m not saying that we need to be the person who is in the gym going Clubber Lang on our sparring partners (one of the most important functions of a disciplined martial artist is taking care of those who help you learn) or holding that extra second on a choke after your partner has already submitted. Physical exercise releases endorphins, which amongst many other things cause a natural high for us. I find that my self-awareness has a tendency to be heightened and some of my most candid and open conversations with people happen post exercise. On that note, finding someone to talk to is another powerful tool in training our personal monster. It is not easy to sit down with another person and admit that you have experienced things which have impacted the very core of your being. Sitting down with a complete stranger to do this is even more difficult.
This is why I recommend confronting our trauma in stages. Having at least one person whom you know that you can explain how you feel and explore why you feel certain things is the starting point. As ground rules, I recommend someone that you know will not share what you share and that you do this in an environment free of alcoholic beverages. After establishing comfort in talking to a person, expand that into finding a group. Invite your confidant along as support. Once you are comfortable sharing in group, I recommend finding a professional to be able to explore everything that you’ve uncovered in the first two steps. I am not an expert nor am I a psychologist. What I am is a person who has experienced a host of traumatic events ranging from abuse to car accidents to the aftermath of an active shooter event during which there were numerous casualties and this is what worked for me.
On the topic of active shooters, I have taken the opportunity to turn that tragedy into something that I am very passionate teaching and talking about. One scenario that we discuss is during this sort of event, you find yourself face to face with a bad guy who has malicious intentions for you. What do you do now? This is the occasion that our monster, Aggression, has been waiting for. The moment where an intruder has invaded the house that we tend to. The house where our monster has been trained, harnessed and now you are going to channel his energy, twist the door handle to his room, rip that door open and let him do what he does.
Violence enacted on our own behalf, for our personal safety, requires nothing less than full commitment to dynamic action. Aggression is what is required to make you your most lethal in your moment of need. It is the idea of taking every negative thing that has ever happened to you, allowing it to become a harnessed and channeled force, focusing it with laser like precision and directing it violently against another human being. That dynamic, violent action fueled by aggression and mixed with adrenaline creates and unstoppable force capable of protecting you from whatever threat you may come across. Once that threat has been neutralized and you are safe, you may escort Aggression back to his room, where he stays until it’s time to train him or, the need for him arises again.
I shouted, “Darkness come out and fight!” And darkness laughed and said “Ha! Boy go away and come back when you’re a man. You have nothing!” And I laughed and said, “Ha! Tomorrow you might win because I have yet to grow older and learn the ways of men but today I bring the sharpest weapons that will injure you. I bring my belief that I can do the impossible, my hope and my dreams. Darkness can never cast out light!” And darkness screamed….~Michael Kurcina STAY YOUNG AT HEART
*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.
Brought to you by the dudes at Spotter Up