The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. Well. Unless, of course, there’s reflexology involved.
Dirty boxing and body scrubs? Boxing gloves and hair extensions? The ‘Eye of The Tiger’ and Katy Perry? Only in Chennai.
Billed as a ‘Fight Night to create awareness for self defence among party goers,’ fortunately the event was less vapid than its theme, thanks to the cheery chutzpah of the ‘fighters’.
Now, self defence is a serious thing, and it’s hard to take an event that announces three fashion sequences “complementing the fight” seriously. After all, any kind of fighting is solemn stuff, involving real aggression, risks and injuries, whether it’s a martial art, WWE style boxing or a street brawl. Pitting amateurs against each other sounds deliciously edgy, in theory, conjuring up cult movie Fight Club-style images of deadened professionals exulting in the adrenalin rush of an unscripted, bare-bones, back-to-the-basics brawl. And make no mistake, there were real punches thrown at the Taj Club House on Friday night. The event was organised to mark launch of Essensuals, a diffusion line of Toni & Guy, to mark their entry into India.
If you can ignore the pedantic self-righteous sub-text and look at Fight Night as a purely social event, it’s a clever concept. Making product launches unique is always a challenge. This unusual combination of boxing and fashion created a buzz in bars, gyms and social networking platforms.
The fact that the 16 fighters involved were good sports, surviving the ring with a mix of grit, optimism and cheer helped. “Most of us started out saying, ‘Let’s dance around the ring a bit, and give the audience a little show’,” says Galatta editor Shakti Girish, who put up a feisty defence against psychologist Mini Rao. “But when you’re in the ring, and your friends are yelling from the audience, adrenalin kicks in and it becomes very real.”
The pot pourri of professionals currently nursing their bruises reportedly underwent training for 10 days with Combat Kinetics under Ajit Singamani. It’s a surprisingly short time to train for a fight. Especially considering most of the participants had no prior training. Singamani says they made the most of it by concentrating primarily on skill building, with a highly intense programme.
Admittedly, it’s a seductive thought. Doctors and DJs coming together after a long day at work to roll up their sleeves and get primal. (Not the best phrase. Though it’s marginally better than my previous line: “to beat each other up.” But then, there’s really no pretty way to tell this story. Maybe that’s why it’s so compelling.)
Perhaps it will help if we look to Tyler Durden aka Brad Pitt again encouraging his motley crew in Fight Club saying: “You are not your job. You are not how much you have in the bank. You are not the contents of your wallet. You are not your khakis…” In the ring, none of your material possessions matter. And that’s oddly liberating.
Step around the ‘glorification of violence’ ethical morass for a moment. Let’s assume this is about self-defence and fitness, as stated by the organisers. It’s still worthwhile to remember that a spontaneous backyard scrap is very different from an organised, publicised fight. As for the ‘London street style’ fashion segments? I’m not sure. Talk about mixed messages!
The evening saw seven amateur sessions and one professional demo fight. Each fight was for five minutes with two 2 minute rounds and a one minute break in between rounds. Then there were those fashion sequences, choreographed by Karun Raman, teamed with martial arts demos (presumably un-choreographed).
As far as messages go, this one was fairly garbled. The official stance was fun, fitness, self defence. In reality, it randomly pitted people of different weight categories, training and experience against each other, sometimes unfairly. Then, paired that with fashion.
A paean to senseless violence? Perhaps that’s unjust. The event definitely showed spirit. It reminded us that, in the end, not everything can be scripted. Also, that it’s helpful to curl, colour and gel your hair before you throw the first punch.