Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Build a Better Relationship by Learning to Fight. Literally.

 What if there was an activity you could do as a couple that would bring you closer, make you more attractive to each other, make each of you more self-confident, feel safer, help you lose weight and gain muscle, make you more flexible, improve physical endurance, give you better conflict resolution skills, and ultimately leads to hotter, more emotionally-connected sex?


No, just kidding. 

Golf is lame. 

Unless it's used as an excuse to either drink in excess or race golf carts. Anyway, I digress.

For about a month, Shelly has been talking boxing, kickboxing, and jui jitsu classes at a local gym (San Diego Fight Club.) She's been showing me what she's learned during that time, which manifested itself in "fights" several times per week. I've joined her at the gym for the last two sessions. The result- we spend a significant amount of time fighting... literally.

And it's awesome!

Most people wouldn't consider learning fighting skills to be a relationship builder. After all, we often associate fighting with negativity. The benefits have been great, both individually and as a couple. 

Shelly started because she wanted a new challenge and wanted to learn to defend herself better. It was another activity to add besides her normal running/ weight training/ Bikram yoga combo.

I started because it was obvious she was loving it. Honestly, I also needed to learn to counter some of the stuff she was learning. Her right cross was getting really fucking strong. 

I suspected I would personally like it. I wrestled in high school. Even though I sucked, I really enjoyed the experience. This adds a whole new dimension to those experiences, and has been an awesome experience.

I did not expect Fight Club to create such a positive relationship benefit. We've always done physical activity together, like running and weight training. We've done the occasional spin class together, and I even joined her for a yoga class. None have been like this

Here are a few we've experienced:
  • Improved communication. Working on various punches, kicks, and jui jitsu positions and moves requires us to give each other instruction, positive feedback, and occasional criticism. If we fail to communicate, improvement is hampered. Once that pattern is established, it's easy to generalize to other aspects of our relationship from parenting to discussing our emotional temperature.
  • Builds trust. Fighting requires each of us to trust the other won't go too far and do something to hurt the other. If Shelly's practicing a lapel choke, I have to trust she's going to let go when I tap out. Same deal with practicing punches. I have to trust she's going to punch the pad and not my defenseless face. Like communication, that trust gets generalized to other areas of the relationship.
  • Norepinepherine and dopamine. These two neurotransmitters are released when we engage in physical activity. Norepinepherine is adrenaline, which makes our heart beat fast, palms sweat, increases attention and focus, and all sorts of other physiological things that prepare us for battle. Dopamine is the chemical that rewards us; it makes us feel really good. It's also the neurotransmitter that makes activities addictive. Both are released when we fight. They're also released when we fall in love. Interestingly, your brain usually misinterprets that causal relationship, which makes you feel some of that early relationship spark with your partner.
  • Increased confidence = sexy. Both men and women will list "confidence" as one of the most attractive traits in the opposite sex. Nobody likes a needy little bitch. Fighting teaches, among other things, how to take care of yourself. While it's possible to take this too far into the realm of douchiness, fighting can definitely cure unattractive self-loathing insecurity.
  • Better body. Intense, full-body exercise builds incredible muscle balance in a way few other physical activities can match. Fighting burns lots 'o calories. The result? Hotter bodies.
  • More testosterone. Physical activity produces testosterone. Fighting leads to even more. Testosterone boosts sex drive. 'Nuff said.
  • Less arguing; better arguing. There seems to be a bit of a catharsis effect with physical fighting. Shelly and I don't argue too often, but we do so even less since we've been doing this. There could be a lot of potential causes for this, but the net effect is undeniable- our relationship has less strife.
  • Endorphines. These neurotransmitters are released in response to painful stimuli, which is inevitable when fighting. Endorphines also make us feel good and have a calming effect after the physical activity, which helps amplify the effects of...
  • Oxytocin. This neurotransmitter makes us feel closer to others, especially our significant other. When we pass the "honeymoon" phase of a relationship, oxytocin is released any time we touch each other (kissing, massaging, etc.) As odd as it may seem, the fighting (at the gym or at home) we do causes us to feel a closer bond with each other due to the physical contact.
  • It gives us something to do. Let's face it- finding new activities to do as a couple can be tough. You can only go out to dinner and the movies so many times.
Fighting may seem like an unusual couples activity, but we've found it to be an awesome relationship-builder. These ten reasons cover many of the benefits. If you're in a relationship and want to get closer to your partner, give this a shot!


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