Hazing and related experiences in Martial Arts

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by GoldShifter, Feb 4, 2015.

  1. GoldShifter

    GoldShifter The MachineGun Roundhouse

    My supervisor at work yesterday brought up the topic of hazing. We were talking about Greek life in college and how the college was when he attended here 10 years ago. He is an admissions counselor now. In a nutshell, one of the big fraternities on campus had a fairly public hazing, in where the pledges carry a couch over their head filled with either kegs or bottles of beer and walked 20-30 miles around our city. Filled with beer, the pledges would drink and carry the couch over their head, and the active members would drink as well. When they arrived back, they were obviously drunk but due to this shared common experience that every pledge went through, be it the president to the newest freshmen, they had the same experience and it bonded them together. It was arguable that these individuals would take a bullet for each other because of how close they were due to that experience. This is a big nutshell but our supervisor ended with, "Hazing is a good thing. It binds people together with a shared experience. It is when it is stupid and taken out of consideration with the ability of the person that bad things happen, and people get hurt."

    Now onto martial arts. I immediately thought back to my black belt testing, and my experience. My testing was hard, and I was pushed to my limits to see my true colors, who I really was, as a person and a martial artist. Also it gave a common experience with the past black belts and the future black belts that we could relate. My supervisor also referred to boot camp as a "hazing." One of my coworkers is in the National Guard and he agreed with my supervisor that, though it wasn't a sterotypical hazing with all the negative connotations, it gave him a common experience with past, present and future military. My coworker accepts that his bond those who went though boot camp, and especially those he went to boot camp with, is a strong bond that is hard to break because of that common experience. Nobody can understand what boot camp is unless they've experienced it themselves. Back to the black belt testing, I kind of agreed with that notion because that nobody really understands what we went through to get our black belts because they didn't go through it. They can have a idea, they can also possibly try to recreate it, but that doesn't mean it is the same.

    Now the question, what do you guys think? Is this comparison correct or atleast agree with some notions of it? Or if you wholeheartedly disagree with it? Just food for thought. Call me crazy but it makes sense in my opinion, though his word choice of "hazing" may be a little off putting. The essence of what he meant to say, I agree with. A shared experience, though embarrassing/abusive/ridiculing, helps bind people together pretty tightly.
  2. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    there's hazing and then there's hazing. can't speak of it referring to one without addressing the other. you know why argentina doesn't have mandatory military service anymore? because they killed people by hazing them in boot camp. pretty sure there has been more than one suicide due to people bullying in the guise of hazing. shared hardship is a very, very powerful thing, psychologically, but you cannot ignore the other side of the coin, where it's not shared hardship, which is that oftentimes the hardship is not only not shared, but the result of wilfully malicious mistreatment.
  3. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    I'm not sure I'd call both of these hazing. In the one case, you're learning to handle adversity with dignity and respect. I don't see the appeal of hazing in the sense that you're describing with beer couch. Perhaps it's just me, but I couldn't look back on that with pride as I grew older. And many other hazing practices seem specifically engineered not just to test someone's mettle, but to humiliate and degrade them in the name of belonging.

    I don't get it. But I'll freely admit that I went to a college that didn't feature Greek life. And I daresay I'd have avoided it like a plague even if I had. So people with Greek backgrounds may have a very different take.

    I feel like it depends very much on the end for which an experience is intended. Walking around with a keg on a couch is suffering, sure. And you could all have a good laugh about it later, I suppose. But I certainly wouldn't put it in the same category as boot camp (even though there may be superficial likenesses).
  4. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    My ex talked about some bonding hazing thing in the Coast Guard. I can't remember exactly, but all the newbie's on a ship had to go through some hazing thing that included dumping, or being in a tub, of nasty garbage/ sewage. She talked like it was a great bonding experience. Sounded terrible and ridiculous to me.

    I don't think one should be dumped in sewage and garbage to serve our country.

    I don't think stuff like that or what you describe with the beer is to be compared to black belt testing or going through boot camp training. Doesn't strike me as the same thing.
  5. Christianson

    Christianson Valued Member

    A shared experience, especially in the face of adversity or challenge, can certainly create community, kinship, brotherhood, what have you. There is no reason, however, that the adversity must be rooted in humiliation. On the other hand, the risks of basing the challenge in humiliation are high. When you are charged with actively humiliating a person, it is very easy to lose sight of the fact that they are a person. Hazing crosses easily into degradation, and when degradation goes too far, psychological damage and even death can result, as Fish brought up.

    Bluntly and tragically, hazing based in humiliation persists because it is abuse, and abuse perpetuates itself. For most people and in most cases, being able to endure abuse involves convincing oneself that the abuse was proper and justified, which in turn makes the abused likely to inflict abuse in similar circumstances.

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