To a fighter,
their cornerman is
part doctor, while
also wearing a
thousand more hats.
They wipe the blood from your face and argue with the ref that it’s not impeding your vision and you can fight on. They tell you when you’re losing and need to go for broke and when you’re winning and need to protect your lead.
A few weeks prior to my last professional MMA fight, I pulled my cornerman and coach Chris Haueter aside before training in his converted Redondo Beach garage and confessed, “Something about this fight is eating at me Chris, I’m more nervous about this one than I usually am.”
That kind of vulnerability in the fight world can sometimes be shared with close teammates, but it’s standard operating procedure when speaking with a cornerman.
Chris took a second to scratch the stubble on his face ponderously and replied, “Good, now we know you’re not a sociopath. Go get changed and get on the mat.”
That was that. It was the perfect combination of acknowledgment, wisdom, and push I needed. I’d said my peace, he’d said his. Now it was back to the path. Back to training. Back to doing what I had stated was my purpose – preparing to fight.
Chris was holding up his end of the bargain by holding me to the standard and the goals I had set for myself, long before fear of the future had crept in and was cutting into my focus and training time.
This was Cornerman 101.
For years I’ve taught Women’s Self Defense seminars, running women of all walks and ages through scenarios they hopefully never have to face, but sadly, most likely will. Inevitably, in every workshop, someone raises her hand and asks, “Why do we have to be here?”
“Why aren’t you
teaching men to
not be rapists
The question always sat heavy with me and in response I’d say, “The guys who will rape and kill won’t take a course like that, but I know someone in here is going to have to fight for her life at least once so this is where I put my energy. Plus, there is a lone psychopath out there, the true rare breed that I need to train you for.”
Despite believing my answer, I’d still chew on the question.
My co-teacher Miguel and I even thought of doing a course for high school boys called “The Protector,” teaching guys how to stand up to a friend who is overfilling drink glasses for his date with one intention, or laughing the next morning when it’s clear it worked.
The course never happened, and the question still was left unanswered – how can we address the problem from the other direction?
When the #metoo hashtag made its way around social media last week and it was clear that the massive scope of this issue was simply too much to combat by teaching elbows and choke defense, the decision was made — start attacking the root, not just sharpen the knife of those who have to deal with the branch.
Thus, last week I held the first Man Uncivilized Movement men’s group here in Brooklyn. Wherever you are, find a group for yourself. Or step in as a leader and start your own.
Hurt people hurt people, this I know. Looking around the world, what I see mostly is the aftereffect of unskillfully mismanaged pain.
Who’s hurt? Both men and women, but who’s doing the hurting? Mostly we are. We’re the ones shooting up concerts, committing acts of violence against both sexes, and destroying ourselves in the process. Why? Because we’re hurt and don’t know what to do with that pain other than lash out.
Now, this isn’t a “poor us” statement. It’s just a fact. And until we acknowledge that fact, fuck all is going to change about it.
The shifting landscape of masculinity coupled with the degradation of our natural forms of expression has left men in an odd situation. We’re confused about our roles as men, underutilized as the world shifts away from needing our natural skills and talents, and feeling marginalized.
Again, no woe is me tale here, just what I see. Take a look at any negative statistic from death, suicide, addiction, crime, lack of education etc. In all of them and men lead the pack. We’re really good and being the worst in a number of given categories.
For priding ourselves
on our hyper-
we sure do suck at
the things that
really matter —
not killing people,
and dying early.
However, this is not the case when men have other strong men in their lives. When we have mentors, guides, and trusted allies. While we are staunch individuals, men need a pack, we need teammates.
We need someone we trust respect, and aren’t trying to sleep with to hold a mirror up to our behavior and say, “You told me you were living by a higher standard than this, what’s going on?”
We need the non-judgemental hand of a brother on our shoulder during our toughest times. We need that same hand to pat us on the back to celebrate our victories and slap us on the ass to move us out of a rut.
Men need men. Men need cornermen. Now more than ever. Men – How different would your life be with a trusted ally or 10?
Women, how different would the men in your lives be with this same safe, supportive outlet? How different would your life be with this man?
There is a surge of men who are tired of being told they’re the problem just because we have the same Y chromosome of the problem makers – and are taking action. And more importantly, we are a surge of men who know that whether we are the problem or not — we are definitely the solution.
Every Monday I’ll be posting a “Man Uncivilized” write-up or video here specifically for men who want to be part of the solution, even if only first by leading by example.
Together we can change the statistics, and more importantly the stories those statistics write. Tales of pain, tales of hurt, and tales of hurting. Every man needs a cornerman. I do, you do, and all the men we know do. Follow along and join the movement. Bring another man with you. If you want to start down the path of the empowered masculine yourself, or know a man who does, reach out to me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk.
Welcome to Man Uncivilized, my brothers.