Knockout (also known as the knockout game and knockout king) – a violent activity played by sucker punching an unsuspecting bystander with the objective of knocking that individual unconscious in a single punch. (Wikipedia)

If you haven’t heard of it – a host of news stories surrounding this game have been surfacing lately (Example 1 / Example 2).

Black children are brutally injuring, and even killing unsuspecting victims. And while these actions are clearly wrong, I think they reflect something larger. Whether they’re due to the lack of a father figure or a violent adolescence, I’m not sure. But I do believe these acts are a good example of misguided attempts to assert one’s own masculinity.

knockout-game

I’m sure the need to feel some sense of power – both over the victim and among their peers – plays a large role in the attacks. Some sense of being a man. And in this case it’s obviously wrong. But it got me thinking – how different are these acts from the common tough guy attitude so many bros take assume on the streets or in the bar.

Whether it’s purposefully bumping someone with your shoulder as you make your way to the bar or staring someone down on the streets, and then taunting them upon making eye contact – I don’t think it is too far removed from the violent knockout game.

Sure, it’s 10, 20, or 100 times less violent – but it’s seeks the same artificial approval that you’re a real man. These behaviors strive to make a grand display of one’s physical prowess. But in the end, all they show is insecurity – a trademark of something far different than a masculine man.

What is masculinity?

All of this begs the question to be asked: what is true masculinity?

Physical prowess, and the ability to defend yourself is undoubtedly on the list. But cheap shows of intimidation demonstrate weakness. It is often noted that premier martial artists are some of the least threatening people you will meet – as well as some of the most masculine. And this is because their physical prowess manifests as extreme self confidence in public – with no need to prove themselves to everybody at the bar. And so true masculinity, as everything seems to do, ties to self confidence in the end.

Georges-St.-Pierre-Odds

Something else an accomplished martial artist has that contributes to this confidence – is a purpose. Their purpose being striving to improve and perfect their craft. Being on a mission of some sort or other is another bullet point on the list of masculine traits. And when you’re caught up in dedicating your life (or at least a portion of it) towards a particular mission, staring down alpha males at the bar falls pretty low on the priority list.

And this leads me to another point. The truly masculine man appreciates others who share his qualities; his first instinct is not to attempt intimidation. Rather he finds it refreshing to meet and interact with someone else who’s on his level, whether it’s through sharing ideas or slaying broads. Yes, none of this supersedes competition, another masculine trait, for sure. But even after two prize fighters try to wreck each other for 12 rounds, they embrace after. And is trying to intimidate a stranger walking down the street competitive?

Sure, other masculine traits exist, but I find these are the ones that closest relate to the tough guy mentality, and its misguided intent. All of this goes to show that using cheap tricks to accomplish a feeling of power or control is not masculinity, but actually insecurity – quite the opposite. And this goes for killing a stranger with an unsuspecting punch – or trying to fight everyone at the club on Friday night.

Read More: You Were Born To Follow