The culture of violence

So this weekend something has shaken up the whole martial arts world, if anyone is interested you can have a read here - Leandro Lo: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion shot in São Paulo club - BBC News

The victim was a legendary BJJ world champion who was shot in the head twice and killed this weekend, it happened in a nightclub as he restrained a man who was bothering him and his group. He took the man down to control him and then let him up, the man took some steps back and then shot the victim twice, killing him.

Now I know that every situation is very complex and I don’t have all the details but this situation has had me wondering about something I have investigated in the past. Which is the macho/hero culture that is currently reinforced by martial arts circles and how it ultimately fails in delivering what it promises. This is one of those things where being an Actualist who is actively engaged in the martial arts world is quite fascinating.

What I have found in most people and in myself is more or less this string of events happening :

1 - I notice that I am not prepared to defend myself in a combat situation and this scares me, I desperately desire confidence so that I no longer have to be a victim to anyone. The funny thing is that speaking from where I am right now after intensely training MMA/BJJ for about 6 years is that my skillset as a fighter will never eradicate this fear, it actually reinforces it (the good old flip-side of the coin thing)

2 - I begin training martial arts and over time I notice that I get good, I am now able to pretty much toy with untrained people, this begins to fill me with a sense of power, like a lion walking among sheep.

3 - Unfortunately around the same time an identity is formed, an identity of some omnipotent person, a hero, the biggest dog around.

4 - Then I find myself in some situation, perhaps a stranger is bothering me… I have invested so heavily into living that fantasy of being the hero, not so different from those portrayed in action movies. Instead of reacting in a way that is intelligent, I either feel the need to live up to my macho identity (out of fear of being seen as a weakling afterall by those that I thought I was going to prove wrong!) or I believe that this is my moment to shine as the hero, that I will do the right thing and be loved and appreciated for my heroic acts (this is yet another way I seek to be acknowledged).

5 - The sad outcome of this is that I might end up engaging in a combat situation when it was not actually required and sadly I might end up living out something akin to what happen to the victim in the article.

I have spent so many hours looking at this, and I see how the martial arts world is deluded into seeing themselves as some beacons of nobility and humility. Yet their ‘peacefulness’ actually relies on dominance and their nobility is just egotism in disguise. As much as the martial arts guys believe that they are on some noble path, and if only the rest of the world was the same there would be peace, they are incorrect. Because in order for them to be peaceful they must be the ‘bigger dog’, they are actually unknowingly perpetuating conflict, that whole culture of violence.

Now that is not to say that learning the skills necessary for self defence may not be useful one day, but the way that culture is currently structured is not the way to go.

It is really interesting observing all this in myself. The other day I had some crazy/angry man who wrongly took me to be someone who almost hit him by car. He approached me with a very aggressive manner, I was well aware that this could turn very sour and yes I could fight him but this does not account for all the other things that could happen. Does he have a few friends around the corner? Will he come back to my work (where he saw me) and seek to get revenge one day? Will I accidentally hurt him too bad and end up prosecuted? Will he sneakily pull out a knife and stab me before I know what is going on? (I work in a dodgy area :laughing:) Those things are still there and this is why this fear that I try to eradicate by becoming all-powerful, will never go. In fact this whole thing might lead me to doing something stupid as opposed to acting in a way that is sensible.

Yet with the ‘martial artist lens’ I might simply see an attacker and decide it is necessary to fight him for a reason which usually can be traced back to some variation of pride.


It is a little funny especially with the existence of guns, to engage in violence is basically rolling the dice that they’re not secretly packing

Especially in the USA there’s a strong culture of people carrying guns whether openly or incognito, you can see that everyone is seeing themselves as some combination of the hero or paranoidly thinking that others are ‘out to get them’ (really these are 2 sides of the same coin). There are a few situations where it might be helpful to have that protection, but in practice it mostly means there are lots of firearms around for people to shoot eachother accidentally, or they’re close at hand for impulsive suicides, or when people go off the deep end it’s too easy to attack other people. It’s a bit like having the nuclear option, at an individual level. As long as it’s an available option, people will use it.

As you say everyone believes that they’re the noble one, but if everyone is doing that it sets off a competition which is ripe for a spark

In this situation with Leandro Lo, you can see how impulsive the shooter must have been… humiliated, in an instant signing his life behind bars.

An interesting question might be, what do we lose when we ‘lose’ a power battle? Vs what are the risks of escalating?

Here is the logical outcome of everyone trying to win the physical power battle:



Awesome, I definitely dig the visual representation @henryyyyyyyyyy! :grin:

@Kub933 I grew up in a family where the males involvement with violence was the norm. Me, being non-aggressive and not suited to fighting always made me a sort of weirdo to the men in my family. A wimp, pansy or whatever derogatory term you can substitute.

This outcome that happened to this individual though is exactly what I used to always say to my dad and my siblings as to what could happen to them in some escalating violent situation and they always seemed incapable of taking their thoughts to such a worst case scenario or they were deluding themselves that they will have the instincts and ability to act in the moment.

My brother when 18 got bottled in the face and it split his face open. He survived but permanently scarred. He still has never learned from that lesson and hasn’t change his tendency to fight first and talk later. He is totally un-phased by violence or the threat of harm. It is hard to believe we are siblings as we have such completely opposite mentalities.

I haven’t had a fight since I was 12. I actually got really good at de-escalating aggressive situations and getting out of potential moments of violence including muggings. I learned quickly that not showing fear and not showing aggression help as it always confused people, there is anticipation and expectation from perpetrators of violence that people will behave and react in some expected way, when you don’t react in some pre-planned way they have expected it throws them off. Trying to run away in fear got you beaten up too, so I learned not to do that.

I learned self deprecating humour can help diffuse situations too.

From Derren Brown (British mentalist, illusionist and TV personality) I learned this trick of verbal confusion as a weapon of self-defense. He first mentioned it on a TV show I saw and then elaborated on it in his book, Tricks of the Mind.. Sort of randomly stating some nonsense to de-escalate the situation, see the link below for a fuller example from the book.

@henryyyyyyyyyy as a kid we all dreamed so much of going to live in America like it was some amazing dream land of superiority. Now I find America terrifying. We have knife gang problems and issues here too so it is not some perfect paradise but the whole gun situation just sounds terrifying. Considering that at any moment somebody could have a Falling Down moment and get access to so many dangerous weapons in an unhinged state.

My brother in law recently shared a video where certain American companies/employers genuinely have videos training you how to react and deal with a crazed shooter scenario. It just sounds so crazy.


@Kub933 When I used to live in London, I trained briefly at the Bob Breen Academy in Hoxton Square, which I think you’d know. Although in retrospect Circus Space down the road would have been more my cup of tea :grin:

Yeah there is this interesting tension in martial arts circles from what I remember - on one hand stoking that paranoid fire and the risk of ‘dying by the sword’ as it were. But on the other hand the knowledge of knowing you can take care of yourself creating a sense of calm or confidence that could possibly stop fights from breaking out in the first place.

Maybe its about age and the type of martial art too. I have a friend in London who has black belts or similar in a number of marital arts. As he’s aged he’s enjoyed more deliberate and formal styles such as Bujinkan, whereas when he was younger he wanted to basically be a killing machine

Brazil and some other L American countries have among the highest gun ownership and homicide rates in the world. I guess that would make you think twice about demoing your skills with random people in bars.

Interesting piece here about the surprisingly low number of mass shootings in L American countries vs. US. Paywalled, but you can easily get full article by sending email address: Why Are There So Many Mass Shootings in the United States?


Well this is exactly it! I remember reading another article a few years back about this Leandro Lo and that he had got into a bar fight in Brazil and was glassed in the head if I remember correctly. And of course now few years later this happened. This is exactly the sort of behaviour that prompts me to look at this stuff, have all these BJJ athletes surrendered their common sense and fallen prey to some silly hero fantasy to be doing things that so clearly can have such devastating effects, and what for? Honour?

I have felt this pressure many times myself and years ago even did end up in fights due to this sort of thinking and it is so very silly! I’m just glad nothing really bad ever came of these situation for either me or the other person. I remember being in a club with my girlfriend and friends years back and some stranger being aggressive. I remember very well just before deciding that I will fight this person, this sort of motivation - “I must show people that I am that hero that they believe me to be, they always talk about how good I am at fighting, I have to finally show them”.

I was talking to some guys at my gym about the Leandro Lo incident and it does seem like the severity of what happened has twigged them to look at the advisability of fighting in general. It is a bit clearer now that any combat situation is not some opportunity for me to present my skills like I am performing to an audience. That whole line of reasoning is just so utterly stupid.


I think activity like this is very centrally human, everything we do is as if we’re performing for someone because the ‘little man’ that is ‘me’ is always watching everything we do, and a lot of what informs what ‘I’ am is feelings of what is right & wrong, which are largely informed by projections from & to the social group.

So whether there actually is an audience there or not, I constantly find myself imagining how others would respond to whatever I’m doing

This reminds me of as @Srinath was getting closer to becoming free, he says that he was having less and less thoughts like “I wonder what the others will think of me becoming free,” it was an increasingly direct intent to become free himself.

Those thoughts are like a check-in with the group

So in the case of these fighting situations, you know that there are a bunch of people that would think you were a pussy/bitch/loser if you backed down in those situations, even moreso because you are a trained fighter! In many ways you’ve actually raised the stakes, lol

And the ‘self’ can’t help but include those projections in consideration of what to do, very often they get priority over any sensible considerations.


Thanks for this henryyyyyy

Interesting, there is a freedom in already being the pussy/bitch/loser which ties into what I was saying about being a wimp. There is no expectation on you to follow the normal response of a proper man. Your already seen as a chump. Which then gives you the freedom to never be violent and not react in the expected way.

My dad was involved in gang violence from a young age and did time for grievous bodily harm. He was involved in racketeering and loved it. He loved it, to break peoples arms and legs for money for other people. This is the person who raised me. He loved to fight and to harm and had done so since a kid. It is such a hard thought to reconcile. Even before AF I didn’t like conflict or to cause harm.

My brothers are like this too. There is not much ego about proving to win, they love to fight for the adrenaline high they get from it. Not to say they dont get a boost for winning but they seldom lost without causing harm too. Win or lose they do what it takes, it is no big deal to them. For someone terrified of violence and physical violence it is so alien and hard to understand.

They did martial arts and boxing and one of my brothers got kicked out of all because he would snap and get very aggressive and go too far, the red mist my dad would call it. There is a sick history of violence in my family. My dad used the threat of violence to control our behaviour. To keep us in line. It might have been needed for my brothers but I was a good kid, and it sucked to be treated that way. Plus to see my brothers be hit or belted for their constant transgressions. One time when older they fought back and chipped my dads tooth. Always such intense tension.

But I also have benefited from their violence. People afraid to physically bully me on the council estate I grew up on or at school. When somebody took something or stole something my brothers would sort them out and get it back.

It is funny to see how people admire, fear and are attracted to violence and violent people. It used to make me angry. I used to resent not being like them, not being tough, not having that reputation or attention.

Also that my siblings would escalate to violence to win arguments, dominate me. Another thing that pushed me to want to be smarter and have the facts. So you can hurt me but your dumb and wrong and I can prove it so fuck you.

Now and then you encounter people who try to threat just verbally and would never try and actually phsycially hurt. The weird part of growing up among violent people is you can actually suss out who are really going to physically threaten and who are just full of hot-air. It is weird like an instinct.

In the work place, those bosses that are bossy and grouchy don’t scare me because I had a dad and siblings who would hurt me not just hypothetically. Now sacking me scares me, actions scare me but not personalities.

Nobody has ever scared me as much as my dad. Which makes me feel like crying really.


I got in touch with violence in myself today which surprised me. Been recovering from a cold this week so not feeling real good. I was driving and the sun was in my eyes so I slowed down a bit while reaching for my sunglasses. Suddenly an SUV was right on my bumper and honking loudly. I pulled over and he almost hit me while speeding by me. I became violently angry and reached for a club behind my seat. I was ready for an attack but he sped on.

I don’t drive but I see that driving is a real trigger for people. I have seen a lot of instances of road rage over the years. It is another thing that puts me off wanting to learn. Another excuse I tell myself.

If they had pulled up do you think it would have escalated?

I don’t know, there was the potential for escalation

In one rash moment your whole life can be changed irrevocably.

Yes, it is scary and also embarrassing.

I have always been too afraid of the consequences to act out on violent impulses. I am pretty cowardly to be honest, which I used to feel embarrassed about too. It is interesting to think there is embarrassment in losing control too. So much going on with the male identity in the realm of violence/aggression.

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The only action I could see being taken here would have been in self-defense but who knows. As long as I am a feeling being anything can happen. Btw, it is commendable that you came from a culture of violence to live a relatively peaceful life.

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Thanks, I can’t really take credit it for it. I have always been a fearful person but also don’t like causing bad feelings or harm. I would always feel immensely guilty if I ever lost my temper over something.

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