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A few weeks ago, standing at a urinal of all places, a poster caught my eye. It was for a local martial arts/boxing/mma/whatever gym. The poster was encouraging people to come and train with the slogan “Let your thug out”. Later while browsing the internet I came across an advert for another gym saying, “There’s a little thug in everyone”, and another, “Release your inner thug”

So, for those who don’t understand what a thug is:

1. a cruel or vicious ruffian, robber, or murderer.
2. (sometimes initial capital letter) one of a former group of professional robbers and murderers in India who strangled their victims.

Thug-OgreSo here are “martial arts” gyms encouraging thuggery? Now, I know some will tell me, “It’s just marketing”, but I don’t buy it. Who are you marketing to? People who are bullies? People who want to be bullies? The subconscious is powerful and words have the power to influence it. People who want to “release their inner thug” are lacking something in their lives. This has turned into a world of wannabe tough guys. People who want to regress in their humanity to some sort of base creatures that can go around with watermelons under their arms and scowls on their faces in the hope that others will see them as something to be afraid of. People who want to resemble oafs and ogres. People who want to feed their own egos horse$#!t until they believe it themselves, and perhaps convince a few others along the way. So, what is the next step? Starting fights? Mugging people? Through a thugs eyes everyone else is a victim to be stood on. This sort of thinking and behaviour has no place in real martial arts.

Thug-ZapSince when is training and practicing martial arts, or any sport for that matter, for hooligans and ruffians? It goes against everything martial arts stand for. In my opinion, martial arts of any kind should encourage moving away from thuggery, not releasing it. We train to bring out and strengthen our humanity. We strengthen our bodies and minds to stand up to thuggery. Martial arts should promote good practices and principles for life, not turn students into low-lives.

I guess it is only appropriate that I first came across the poster in the toilets.