Erich Fromm: Skill, play & violence

German social psychologist Erich Fromm was writing in the mid-20th century, having lived through the Nazi takeover he, like other intellectuals of that time tried to come to terms with the violence and destruction they saw around them. 

His book The Heart of Man is an attempt at rationalising the destructive evil inherent in mankind that took hold of Europe in late 1930s; not a light read admittedly but there is an early section on playful violence and play-fighting that struck a chord with our Biofit Fight class philosophy.

The most normal and non-pathological form of violence is playful violence. We find it in the pursuit of playful skill, not in the pursuit of destruction, not motivated by hate or destructiveness.

His examples include the war games of primitive tribes and in Zen Buddhist sword fighting where the aim is never to kill but rather to channel and release unconscious aggression and destructiveness. It's about displaying skill, above all else.

Two key contemporary references come to mind here. The first is the powerhouse duo behind Rootless Root: Fighting Monkey, arguably the lead proponents of playful violence in the context of movement in the western world today, few have gone into more depth on this than Josef and Linda. 

Then of course, there is Ido Portal, the man who has taken movement into the world of MMA via his work with Conor Mcgregor. Say what you like about Ido, and Conor for that matter, between the two of them they've done more to explain the role of movement and playful violence to the masses than anyone else today. Ido is a man of many talents, besides gymnastics and capoeira he is also ex-Israeli army and knows his way around a ring. Here's a quick glimpse of some of the work her put Conor through during his pre-fight training week recently: