Successfully reported this slideshow.

Tucker Max - From Cave to Cage: MMA and Ancestral Health

5

Share

1 of 20
1 of 20

Tucker Max - From Cave to Cage: MMA and Ancestral Health

5

Share

Tucker Max's presentation at the 2011 Ancestral Health Symposium

Abstract: The ancestral health movement has had immense success by recognizing the fundamentals of human nature, realizing that our modern world often conflicts with what our genes need, and finding ways to better reflect the conditions that best serve our ancestral history. But the focus thus far has mainly been on eating and socialization. There is another fundamental of the human condition that has been largely ignored: Fighting. The 'hunter' has been left out of 'hunter-gather.' For the ancestral health movement to become more comprehensive and effective, we must recognize this fundamental aspect of human nature, and think about how to safely and positively incorporate the physical conflict that is so much a part of our history and genetics into our thinking on human health. I propose mixed martial arts as a viable solution.

Tucker Max's presentation at the 2011 Ancestral Health Symposium

Abstract: The ancestral health movement has had immense success by recognizing the fundamentals of human nature, realizing that our modern world often conflicts with what our genes need, and finding ways to better reflect the conditions that best serve our ancestral history. But the focus thus far has mainly been on eating and socialization. There is another fundamental of the human condition that has been largely ignored: Fighting. The 'hunter' has been left out of 'hunter-gather.' For the ancestral health movement to become more comprehensive and effective, we must recognize this fundamental aspect of human nature, and think about how to safely and positively incorporate the physical conflict that is so much a part of our history and genetics into our thinking on human health. I propose mixed martial arts as a viable solution.

More Related Content

Related Books

Free with a 14 day trial from Scribd

See all

Related Audiobooks

Free with a 14 day trial from Scribd

See all

Editor's Notes

  • Two things before I start: #1: TIME: I only have 20 minutes, and I'm going to say a lot of things that might be scientifically questionable to some people. Every statement I make is backed up by empirical research or direct personal experience, or both. It’s all in the bibliography on the web, feel free to check that or talk to me about it afterwards if you wonder about anything.#2: WHO THE HELL AM I?: I'm a believer in the ancestral health movement, I've been eating some form of paleo for 4 years now, and I think the idea that we should understand ourselves through the lens of our evolutionary past is absolutely correct. But don't mistake me for Loren Cordain or Robb Wolf; I am not a thought leader like most of you are, I am just a participant in this movement. So why am I giving a speech here? Well, it's kind of an accident. I planned to come as an attendee, looked at list of speeches, and saw an obvious omission. Seth Roberts is a friend of mine, I emailed him, he agreed with me and asked me to give a speech about it, and so here I am.
  • What's missing from the Ancestral Health Conference that's so important Seth Roberts was willing to give up half his time to some guy who's never published a thing about Ancestral Health? Well, what's important to ancestral humans, to hunter-gatherers? Food--covered really well. Socialization/group membership--covered decently well. Sex--not really directly covered in speeches, but sex is so intimately tied to socialization and health, that its tangentially covered. What's left?
  • Violence. Fighting. Even though violence is, along with sex, the primary force on our evolution as a species, there is not one single speech being given on that subject except this one.
  • When was the last time you were in a fight? When was the last time you had to use violence?When you were a kid probably, or maybe never. Thankfully, we live in a very non-violent society, that it never really comes up in our lives. We are so divorced from where we get our food, most people never even have to deal with the reality that meat comes from death. How much violence have you really dealt with in your life?OK, I want you to hold that thought until the end of the speech. It's very important.
  • Who trusted God was love indeed / And love Creation's final law / Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw / With ravine, shriek'd against his creed-Lord TennysonViolence is an integral part of the natural world. Not really in doubt. Nature is red in tooth and claw, and the animal kingdom is dominated by violence. Not much of a dispute here.
  • Humans are no different. Humans have been unquestionably violent throughout our recorded history, and in fact, most current thinking is that humans evolved as extremely violent creatures, much more violent then we are today.
  • There was a notion, that still exists to some extent, that man is naturally peaceful. Rousseau's concept of the noble savage held that violence is a cultural creations, and modernity corrupted peaceful ancestral man. This is utter bullshit. A peaceful state of nature has never existed, especially not with humans, and all archeaological and genetic evidence points to a past that is exceedingly MORE violent than our present. In fact, the irony is that there has been a pretty constant DECREASE in violence as civilization has progressed. Steven Pinker has a new book coming out about this, I read a galley, its really good.
  • The simple fact is, violence is an integral part of our culture and our biology. If you're still unsure of this idea, here's a very simple proof: Here's the logo for the Ancestral Health Conference. Notice anything?
  • That's a spear. A spear has one use. Whether it be for defense, hunting, aggression--the point is of a spear is to commit violence. Our cultural images of the people we are looking to for our health cues are not just kinda violent--violence is integral to them.
  • Violence is part of who we are, and there are a lot of ways to talk about violence; I'm going to talk about Mixed Martial Arts.Make no mistake about it, hand to hand combat is at least as ancient as civilization. The original Greek Olympics were defined by one contest, the most important contest to them: pankration. Martial arts have developed and changed since then--the history is very cool and if you are interested there are a ton of books about it--but we have ended up with what I think is the best form of real combat: Mixed Martial Arts.
  • Just to dispel the idea that people may have real quick--MMA is not a barroom brawl or just random violence. It is the combination of BJJ, american wrestling and thai boxing. Make no mistake about it, MMA is very far from haphazard. It is supremely cognitively difficult. For me, MMA is probably the important single activity I've ever done. I started training in 2007, and it changed my life at least as much as eating paleo did. Probably more. All of you eat some form of paleo as well, so you all know how important it is to your life, how much it's changed you, right? I'm the same way. If I had to give one up, I'd give up paleo before I gave up MMA.Let me tell you how MMA has affected my life:
  • "MMA fighters might not be the fastest or the strongest or the highest jumpers, but on balance they are the best athletes in sports.” -CarlonColker, trainer for dozens of elite athletes, from Shaquille O'Neal to Andre Agassi to Olympic skiersMMA is the best way work out there is. I've done everything, played all four major sports growing up, and pretty much every exercise routine there is. Nothing comes close. Before MMA I did crossfit for awhile and I loved it--but I haven't been back since I started MMA. There is NOTHING like being in fight shape. I cannot tell you how many triathletes who have come into my gym, or crossfitters, or college football players or whoever to try out MMA, and they are destroyed after only 5 minutes of light rolling. It's also helped my sleep, my posture, helped me in innumerable physical ways.
  • "You have to don't worry about the guy who gets loud and acts tough. He's scared. Worry about the quiet, focused guy. He's done this before.” -Advice given to me by a bouncerI could give just an hour speech about this topic, but the empirical evidence is overwhelming: The best way to reduce overall aggression and violence between people is to have them study martial arts. One example: Tons of studies have shown that police that are trained in submission techniques--MMA basically--are three times LESS likely to use force to subdue a suspect. This may seem counterintuitive at first, but once I started fighting, it made perfect sense. If you are untrained and get into a situation requiring violence, you are unsure of yourself and insecure about what will happen. You don't know what to do. MMA took the randomness and mystery out of violence, and made it into something you can understand and control. You want to reduce violence in society? Teach people martial arts.
  • "The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting by fools." -ThucydidesIts easy to understand how MMA will help you with self-defense. I mean, MMA is what the armed forces teaches as it's hand-to-hand fighting system--the men who fight for their lives use MMA. The self-defense applications should be obvious. MMA did more than teach me how to defend myself though; it teaches true self-reliance. MMA gave me a deep feeling of true inner belief, based not on bullshit, but on experience. Once you train at fight speed and really get comfortable fighting, you learn to handle violent situations. This becomes skill, which becomes belief, which becomes part of who you are. MMA is sort of like the force--everywhere you go, it's there with you. There is a notion in society that we aren't allowed to be violent, that violence is always wrong, no matter what. That's ridiculous when you think about it; most of our greatest heroes are warriors of some sort or another. And the moral question with violence is not is it OK over, it's WHEN it is OK. Here's thing: Violence is the bedrock of our society. It's ALWAYS an option. It may not be the smart option or the best option--and initiating violence is never the moral option--but the fact is, VIOLENCE IS ALWAYS AN OPTION. If you think you aren't allowed to use violence, then what do you do when someone else decides to be violent with you? You have to rely on the state. What if they fail you? Police are not perfect. By rejecting the entire notion of violence, you have given the state your choice to use violence or not, and at that point, what are you but a vassal?Please understand that I am NOT advocating lawlessness. I like cops and the army as much as the next guy. I like that we live in a world of rules and laws and not a world of brute force. I don't want to change that one single bit. But cops can't be everywhere all the time, and violence is a fact of life. The best way to deal with that reality is not to pretend it doesn't exist, but to be ready to handle yourself just in case it's ever needed. That's real self-reliance.
  • "Look, other sports are great, but nothing compares to fighting. The best part of most sports are when the fights break out."It's not like MMA is a fringe sport. MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world, and the biggest combat sport in the world already. It was introduced to America only in 1993, and in 20 years has already overtaken boxing and WWF in pay per view draws. The main MMA league, the UFC, is a multi-billion dollar company now. MMA is huge and it's here to stay. And this fact I think says something about how much we need some sort of violent expression as a culture. I love sports, but sports don't cut it. Football and basketball, etc--these are just ritualized fighting performed by overpaid crybabies. And don't get me started on Grand Theft Auto or stupid Hollywood action movies with unrealistic consequences and flawless, impossible heroes. People are leaving these things and going to MMA, you know why? Because MMA is real fighting, and fighting is the truth.
  • "False ideas about yourself can destroy you.” -Frank Shamrock"In the cage, the truth finds you.” -Randy CoutureIn fact, that’s how MMA start. It used to be that tae kwon do masters thought they could beat boxers, etc, etc. Everyone argued about who the best was, and no one actually tried to figure it out. So the first UFC put all these different masters of different martial arts in one tournament, to find out who would win in a REAL fight. To find out the truth. This is a central idea behind MMA: Truth. Fighting teaches you about consequences, about limits, about reality and humility in a way you cannot ignore. If you don't tap out, your arm gets broken. That's REAL. Where in this society do you find truth? Nowhere. Everything is bullshit; politics, sports, dating, jobs, media, everything. Not fighting. Fighting is truth.I hope I don't sound like a kook when I say this, but fighting taught me who I was in a way that nothing else in modern society has been able to. Because when I fight, I test myself on an anvil of verifiable truth, and see how I measure up. For me, fighting is not even about winning or losing--its the fact that I tested myself that matters. MMA lets me prove who I really am. Where else can a man do that? Where else do you get to lay it on the line and really see what you're made of, but do it in a safe, constructive, and ultimately rewarding environment? MMA does that, and nothing else I've ever experienced does.
  • "How much can you know about yourself, if you've never been in a fight?” -Tyler Durden"A guy who came to Fight Club for the first time, his ass was a wad of cookie dough. After a few weeks, he was carved out of wood.” -Tyler DurdenI know I am presenting a very male-centric perspective on MMA, cause I'm a man. But there are a lot of women who train in MMA and love it. My best friend is a girl and I got her into fighting, and she could have given this exact speech about how MMA has changed her life, so please don't think about this as a male thing only.Look, to really understand what I'm saying, you need to try it. MMA hits you in such a visceral place, it's hard to describe. I am trying to use words to explain things that are wordless. You have to feel fighting for it to really resonate.Think about sex--what did you think about sex before you had it, and what did you think about after? Could you explain the difference in words to someone who hadn't had sex? There have been thousands of songs and poems written about it, and still, there's nothing like actually experiencing it.Get on a mat. Just take a basic intro to BJJ class, it's very very safe and calm. Roll around and see. You'll understand what I'm talking about.
  • "The ultimate aim of martial arts is not having to use them.” -Miyamoto MusashiViolence is part of our biology and our evolutionary history. But right now, we as a society are not talking honestly and reasonably about violence and where it fits into our identity, mainly because the discussions get bogged down in politics and religion and other bullshit. People talk about violence in the way they want it to be, not the way it IS. I think MMA is a constructive and rewarding way for humans to safely express our violent sides--but MMA is not a total answer to all the questions about violence in our past and present. I don't have the answers to those questions. I don't even know if I know all the questions...but I do know that not enough people are working to answer them now. I think if there is ONE PLACE where people could be having honest discussions about the questions surrounding violence and fighting and it's relationship to humans, THIS is the place. But that's the point of this speech: to show you, the thought leaders of the Ancestral Health movement that violence is such an important part of who we are, and you're all ignoring it.
  • Remember this? "When was the last time you were in a fight? When was the last time you had to use violence?"Did you figure out your answer?
  • Now, ask yourself this: "How do you think a hunter/gatherer living 50,000 years ago would answer that question?"Remember this? What's your answer? Now I think you understand that there is massive hole of understanding about violence and its place in human health that needs to be discussed and understood.
  • ×