An Overdue Ass-Kicking

On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. — Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

One morning I woke up, tired of being a coward.

I was tired of being afraid. Tired of being intimidated. I realized that for 22 years I had confused “being nice” with “fear of confrontation.” So that day I did some research, checked out some facilities, and joined a martial arts gym to train toward my ultimate goal:

To enter in an MMA cage fight.

Down in California, I was at a Taco Bell once with one male friend and three female friends. While there, a group of five guys came in, about my age, and started talking rudely to one of the girls I was with. Now, I did try to stand up for her—I tried to diffuse the situation and ask the guy to show some respect.

His response? He took a bite from his taco and spit it at me.

Granted, there were five of them and only two of us, but I did nothing. If the numbers were different, would I have responded differently? I don’t know. I just knew I was scared. And not the type of scared that produces a calculated reaction; the type of scared that produces malfunctioning inaction.

I have never been in a fight in my life. I’ve never gotten a good shiner (intentionally) or scraped my knuckles (combatively). And to many, this is a good thing. Throughout my life I was taught to disarm situations with my words and the power of greater authorities.

Never with my fists. Nor my elbows. Nor my knees. Just that pink, soft fleshy thing cowering behind a white shield of enamel.

But I don’t want to go through life without a scar or two above my eyebrow.

Aristotle says all virtues are the midpoint between extremes. For example, courage is found halfway between “cowardice” and “foolhardiness.” However, each of us has our own tendency toward one end of that spectrum, and in order to move toward the middle, we must overshoot our actions in the opposite direction.

So if I want to make courage more a part of my disposition, I need to aim for foolhardy.

Into my third week now, I’ve been taking boxing, kickboxing, jiu jitsu; been doing conditioning, lifting weights, eating healthier. Still, I’ve been afraid to go to the actual MMA classes. I’m afraid I don’t know enough. That I’ll look stupid. That I’ll get hurt.

But confidence and courage comes from apathy towards all of those things.

Now, I don’t believe that I should just go out there trying to start fights. But I do believe that in order to defeat bad people you often have to have the courage to fight them.

So in a few months from now, expect to see a post with an uploaded video of my first ever cage fight.

Unless of course, I just get my ass kicked.


Author: jdt

Jake writes weekly posts every Wednesday on the intersection of psychology and philosophy. To learn more about him, or to propose a topic you'd like him to cover, go to

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