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Do It For The Kids

Dropping troubled kids into a mildly-abusive environment is a time-honoured and satisfying tactic. Whether it’s the army or combat-sports, the general idea is to curb teenage frustration by straining young bodies and minds in a sadistic but controlled manner.

There are many different avenues for developing punks, but there is a mental aspect to combat sports that’s cuts particularly deep. Being beaten in a fight can be devastating to the ego. From being rocked by a left hook to feeling your arm about to snap at the elbow, it’s a visceral experience to be at the mercy of a single opponent.

Furthermore, being outclassed is something that happens a LOT when you first start training. For an angry youth, that can be both a healthy outlet and a source of important lessons about controlling emotions–swinging like a madman will not get you far against an experienced fighter. Technique, patience and strategy are key to long-term success; riding emotions and raw power will lead to a burn out and a messy end.

In the corner of using recreational violence for the good of society is the recently ended life of Bob Shamrock. Shamrock ran a special ranch for troubled young men on their way to becoming incarcerated adults. He made them chop wood, solve their disputes with proper boxing matches, and develop practical ambitions. The most famous of the “youts” are of course MMA legends Frank and Ken Shamrock. Ken in particular credits Bob with keeping him out of jail by channeling his anger into training, and encouraging him to pursue competitive martial arts as a career.

In the same vein, the New York Times recently ran a piece on pastors taking an active role in MMA training. The goal of these churches is clearly to attract the absent 18-34 male demographic back to Sunday services. But whatever the motivation, it may be doing some good. Church leaders try to combine the self-discipline and confidence required for training and competition with Bible lessons, “family values” and personal responsibility. Like Shamrock, they focus on troubled young men bursting with daddy-issues.

The continued popularity of war suggests that there may be a lot of pent-up aggression in today’s society. There is a bit of accepted violence left in mainstream sports like hockey, football and rugby. But there’s something passive about checking, tackling and brief scuffles that do not satiate the more vicious instincts. While machines get faster and deadlier, we find people just as annoying as our smelly ancestors did. It’s only logical that to keep the social order intact some kids will need a regular ass-kicking.

Unfortunately, Charles Daniel “Krazy Horse” Bennett recently took it upon himself to poke holes in the hope for a better world through competitive violence. After 40 professional fights and experiencing the full range of ups and downs that MMA has to offer, “Krazy Horse” should have acquired some personal restraint. Yet he was allegedly furious enough about being roughed up in a training session to leave, return an hour later, and assault a teammate with a large piece of steel in the parking lot. Though it may not have been his intention, Mr. Horse highlights an important dilemma with teaching delinquents how to fight.

While combat sports can be a healthy way of controlling anger, it will never solve the problems that keep the rage boiling up. If someone has serious emotional problems, it will take more than MMA to keep them out of jail. Violent crimes are common among young men in particular because of a fluctuating combination of testosterone, self-esteem, and emotions. Without some guidance and little understanding that can be an overwhelming situation.

Learning to control emotions completely is something that most people will never accomplish; life is just too damn aggravating. When stress and anger bubble to the surface, combat sports can burn it off like a little extra fat. But when emotions flow unchecked they function as fuel–a pissed off human can justify all sorts of destructive behaviour.

Combat sports training is a tool that can be used for self improvement. Getting beaten down for hours on end will take the edge off of most people, but there’s no guarantee for a model citizen over a stronger, faster criminal. The deciding factor in what people will accomplish is maturity, and that cannot be taught; it has to be absorbed through life experience.

  • Rece Rock says:

    let the punks kill each other…

    and maybe “krazy Horses” team mate should press charges and send this guy to the real cage with the other animals who don’t know how to act.

  • JollyDV says:

    Very interesting article. Thanks for sharing.

  • JabCrossHook says:

    rece, it’s attitude like that is why we have so many sociopathic criminals. that don’t give a fuck point of view shared by cops, COs, judges, and the rest of this system and the ignorant public.

    most of these people were born into situations and because of a lack of these programs and the right people to set them straight they turn into the animals you see in prison. what you fail to realize all these late 20s to early 30s men doing life in prison are usually a product of the system, all they know is violence.

  • Rece Rock says:

    @ jabcrosshook:

    It’s sypmathetic softies that allow these mutants of society an opportunity to actually defend there criminal and unethical behavior as saying they know nothing else in life… THATS BULLSHIT!

    As any person grows into there teens I’m sure they know right from wrong and if they decide to supercede their conscious to perform criminal acts then that’s on them. If your stealing to eat or your fighting to protect your property or defend a loved one and it’s all because your in this fucked up situation then fine I can live with that… but if your out with buddies jumping ppl for wallets or your jacking cars or stealing for drugs then NO I don’t feel bad cause after the age of 13 you should know better.
    As far as that undisciplined jerk Crazy Horse goes…
    being born into a situation doesn’t make you premeditate picking up an object and hit someone whom bested you at the training session that day…??? think about what your saying… it’s ok he attacks someone because he’s from the streets and a product of his enviroment?? Yea well I’m sure other fighters were up to no good and found a passion in this sport to get control of them selves and progress in life not just take advantage of the opportunities given to them to procede living there thug life and not having regard for the MMA Community or man kind in general.

    Maybe because I don’t come from a broken home or live with addicts or whatever my views may be different but I do have friends whom had addicts for parents and did have a not so nice home life but they certainly weren’t running the streets being thugs and acting out- or atleast not to the point where they hurt other ppl…
    That’s the problem with our country we feel bad for everybody- maybe if we felt bad for the NORMAL EVERYDAY PPL that deal with these outcasts and pay taxes so these fuck ups can get welfare and food and meds… just maybe then I can have compassion for these mutants- but until the government takes care of the functioning normal society then I really don’t give a flying fuck about these criminals and there hardships and issues- theres ppl out there struggling with 2 min. wage jobs trying to make a life out of nothing and don’t get a dime of benefits and then theres healthy ppl walking around living off the govts funds and couldn’t be bothered to better themselves or there community- FUCK THEM.

  • JabCrossHook says:

    Rece, your whole argument is a ball of contradiction. You say after the age of 13 you should know better? What if no one was there to show you better? Not everyone has both parents or one responsible one to show you right from wrong. Where I live its not uncommon for a kid to be born to a drug addicted mother, father ran off, got shot, sent to jai, whatever. Mom wasn’t a prize either and didn’t give a fuck (just as you) about the kid blaming things on the father. From birth you have no structure in your family, you want power, you want escape. Poverty obviously doesn’t help, when you’re young you steal to eat and support yourself so you have some nice things like normal people do. You said you had no problem when you steal or rob to eat or support yourself and family. But how do you think these kids in poverty start off? Maybe they get arrested and sent to juvie where they have to fight everyday to gain respect. And if they get out what do they have to go back to? No parents and no real guardian. When they get older they’re obviously going to upgrade to bigger things like drug dealing, armed robbery, etc. A whole childhood of poverty, apathy, theft, and violence and you expect them to just suddenly straighten themselves out when they’re 13? Get realistic. It also doesn’t help how our society glorifies drug dealers and other types of criminals. But in a high crime neighborhood, these people are talked about like celebrities, something for a troubled little kid to look up to. I’m not some softie who pities them. But as kids it wasn’t their fault they were born into a such a shitty environment. A lot of these type of people remain the same, most end up dead, doing life, etc, but some actually. Usually after doing 10 or more years, changes your perspective on things. And guess what they do after that? They get a job doing minimum wage. I dealt with these type of people a lot when I was growing up and still do to some extent. I never felt sorry for them or sympathy, because a wrong is still a wrong. But I do understand that they had no control when they were young and that was what made them like that. Is that their fault? Mostly not.

    Also what are you talking about government funds? Felons can’t get welfare, or social security, so I dunno what you’re talking about. And don’t give me the shit how we pay for them to get incarcerated because they are charged 12 dollars a day to stay imprisoned and most come out in debt.

  • JabCrossHook says:

    Also I never used crazy horse as an example, he’s an idiot because he had an obvious opportunity to get out and be better and he messed it up.

  • Xspur says:

    Great article! I think what the problem is, is that with the rise of MMA’s popularity, and the floods of teenagers wanting to train in it, it lacks the traditional mental training that was so common in the “karate” schools. And by mental training I mean all of it, courtesy, courage, confidence, commitment, control, the way of the warrior. The respect of the “arts” has been looked over in modern MMA training. Why are guys that act like Machida and A. Silva seen as unusual in the sport? They represent, what I guess may now be considered the “old” way. I send a plea to all trainers, please don’t take the “martial Arts” out of MMA. These kids need to learn more that a kimora or a leg check, they need to learn how to treat their teachers with respect, how to call the checker at the store sir’ or ma’am, and how to mind their parents. Put these principles back into combat training and see what a difference it makes.

  • Xspur says:

    wtb self post editing ability, so i could change a that to a than***

  • Rece Rock says:

    I agree with some of your points- but overall we’ll agree to disagree…

    -My point was that at least by age 13 you can say i should or shouldn’t be doing what I’m doing or that it’s right or wrong… just simply is it right or wrong and I know there will be consequences- regardless of the parenting situation…

    -As far as $12 bucks being charged to the incarcerated daily, if that is a fact – I’m sure it doesn’t cover the Corrections staff, the program/ rehabilitation staff,kitchen staff, Medical staff, maintence of the facility, laundry, food, medication, clothing, utilities, Transportation… etc, etc… $12 bucks a day is cheaper than being on the street… and costing the public $. Shit think about how much money was spent by the public just to get them to the point of incarceration!

    I can appreciate your opinion because maybe you have more insight in these types of ppl than I do- but to me everyone has a choice in what they do it’s up to that individual to make the right ones when faced with life changing situations.

  • Dufresne says:

    Xspur: I send a plea to all trainers, please don’t take the “martial Arts” out of MMA. These kids need to learn more that a kimora or a leg check, they need to learn how to treat their teachers with respect, how to call the checker at the store sir’ or ma’am, and how to mind their parents. Put these principles back into combat training and see what a difference it makes.

    I agree 100%.

    I remember smarting off to one of the junior trainers back when I was still practicing karate because he was about my size. Of course I was young and stupid and challenged him to a “sparring” session, which he used to teach me respect the old fashioned way. I never forgot that lesson either. The people above you got there for a reason (mostly), treat them with respect and they’ll help you grow, disrespect them and you’ll be put on your ass.

  • MegaMan says:

    I disagree with Rece Rock.

    A teenager that gets into trouble needs to be shown the right way. If some naive whatever decides to ridicule, ignore, look down on, put down, etc… they will only make the situation worse.

    If everyone was like Bob Shamrock, it seems the world would be a better place.

  • LoganClark says:

    Right now I don’t allow anyone under 16 to train at my gym. We have enough problems with adult males who need to learn humility and resolve their daddy issues that I don’t really feel like inviting in lots of troubled youths at this point. The few teens who do train at the gym actually trend towards the mature side of youth development.

  • Xspur says:

    LoganClark: Right now I don’t allow anyone under 16 to train at my gym. We have enough problems with adult males who need to learn humility and resolve their daddy issues thatI don’t really feel like inviting in lots of troubled youths at this point. The few teens who do train at the gym actually trend towards the mature side of youth development.  

    If you don’t allow people under 16 in your gym that’s totally understandable, especially with the liability of MMA. However, the ages of 16-24 are very influential years for young men. And if a gym adopted the mentality of the principles I explained in my post above, it could have a huge impact on where these kids go in their life after MMA, and what they do outside the gym/cage.

  • LoganClark says:

    Believe me, I understand. I’ve had people tell me how the gym changed/saved their life with regularity. I simply don’t go out of my way to recruit troubled teens, and the kids who are going to come into an MMA gym on their own are more likely to be the kids who would have been responsible on their own. We do have plenty of troubled young men. As I get older, I expect that I will take more time to work with these men, but I am simply too busy with having a career in fighting and running a gym to do so at this time. This is a very interesting topic, and I’ll likely be back to write more.


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