How and Why to Start a Fight Club in Your Garage

Forget the first rule of Fight Club (“You do not talk about Fight Club.”). You’re going to break it all the time. You’ll talk at dinner parties, you’ll share tips and advice with members of your club, and you’ll have to explain to nosy neighbors why grown men are beating on each other in your driveway. No, instead, focus on a much more important rule of fight club: don’t get hit. Defense is everything, particularly when dealing with amateurs. You don’t want anyone to get injured, so first and foremost, you’ll need to keep your hands up.

I was first introduced to boxing by the University of Notre Dame Bengal Bouts. I was a slow, out-of-shape grad student trying to keep up with young, athletic undergrads. I was, I’m certain, one of the worst boxers in the program’s storied history. But my boxing skills didn’t matter nearly as much as the workouts themselves: two grueling hours, five days a week, of push-ups, sit-ups, sprints, jumping jacks, and sparring. Those workouts pushed me to my physical limits and helped me find a fighting spirit — an invaluable discovery. And beyond the workouts, nothing awakens the spirit so much as a good punch to the jaw.

Years later I found myself back in the gym, trying to stay in shape, doing the same boring exercises we all see repeated at every gym out there: bench press, curls, squats. All the usual, boring routines. Then a few friends and I decided to get together and punch each other, and the old passion was reawakened. Even if you never become an expert of the sweet science, do yourself a favor, and get together to punch your friends.

What Fighting Teaches Us

Boxing is a great way to stay in shape. The cardio benefits of its training (jump-rope and jumping jacks) are fantastic, and nothing gets the heart pumping like a good sparring session. The amount of energy you’ll expend moving your legs and trying to outwit your opponent may be the best workout around. Beyond the obvious health benefits, there are plenty of other reasons to start a Fight Club. Here are a few:

Celebrate Your Animal Instincts: Men are wired to fight, but we so rarely get the chance in the modern world. Boxing, as Hemingway knew, is a pillar of manhood — a way for men to enjoy competition and to experience, in some way, our most primal instincts while in the confines of a relatively safe, regulated environment.

Commitment: Doing anything, week in and week out, requires commitment. And when that commitment requires you to get punched in the face…talk about dedication. Whether you have work or family obligations, if it’s raining or snowing, if you’re tired or your attention is elsewhere, you’ll find it nearly impossible to let the Fight Club down. When a group of men are willing to stand in your garage, in sub-zero temperatures, and glove-up — well, how can you say no to that?

Overcoming Nerves: Do you ever get stressed before a big presentation at work, or before a final exam in school? Fight Club will teach you to keep your cool during high-stakes situations, because Fight Club simulates the highest of stakes. A friendly Fight Club may never get close to the ultimate situation of do-or-die, but even during a casual sparring session, the same fight-or-flight instincts take over. Learning to manage your fear and remain calm in the ring will inform the rest of your life. Next time you walk into a meeting, you’ll know how to stick and move, and you’ll remember to touch gloves at the end.

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