In my near 20 years training in the martial arts, I can say that I have belonged to each of these. Each serves a different purpose and each has it’s benefits and drawbacks. Let’s talk about each.
For me, a Fight Club is any gathering of people who’s sole purpose is to hold organized fights. This isn’t the same as a a legal business who’s job it is to organize paid for competitions. I’m talking about a group of individuals who gather to beat on each other.
I belonged to one of these back in high school. My friends and I would gather on the weekends and put sparring gear on and then spend several hours taking turns slogging it out in back yards and basements. The injuries were many. Our safety concerns went as far as “Hands, Feet, Cup.”
So, how could something that sounds this destructive ever be a positive thing? Pretty easily actually. Here’s a few benefits I got from participating in a Fight Club.
- Confidence – It takes a level of confidence to stare across a ring at someone who wants to do you harm and not run away.
- Experience – How often do you get the chance to get in a fight without the authorities being called?
- Diversity – Every person in my club had a different training level and background.
- Fellowship – There’s a definite bond formed when you spend your free time hitting each other for fun.
Fight Clubs generally have no setup for teaching. Anything you learn, you learn in the ring. That means bad habits and all. Does that mean that the need for a Fight Club goes away when you start formal training? I don’t think so.
I still have a Fight Club. It has just become more refined than my teen years. Most everyone in my club has a black belt in some martial arts style. Some of them multiple black belts. Some just have what I would consider the equivalent of a black belt – Varsity Letter from high school, Scholar rating in WMA.
For us, the Fight Club is no longer about just duking it out. It has grown into a testing ground for us. We can safely test our knowledge with trained partners who care enough to make it real but keep it safe. Our club doesn’t replace our formal training. It is in addition to it. It is a tool we use to enhance our training rather than an end of its own.