When Hazing Goes Wrong

#TrueTalkTuesdays 27

“There is a fine line between toughness and stupidity.”

David Avellan

I posted this on my Instagram a couple of days ago, and I have never seen anything quite like it. You can take a look below to see what I’m talking about.


Yes, that guy is purposely smashing this guy’s ear to give him cauliflower ear. It’s hard to know what exactly the context is, but it appears the victim has medals around his neck, and this was posted on a wrestling channel, so I assume this is some sort of rite of passage for a young competitor.

Hazing is common among sporting groups. A rite of passage is a way of proving one’s worth, and going through such a challenge tends to bond people together.

I’m all for that, but you have to draw the line somewhere. In this scenario, the hazing process is permanently disfiguring this young man, and there is no real benefit derived. Sure, it takes a certain amount of toughness to stand still while your ear is getting smashed, but for what purpose? To me, this has clearly crossed the line of toughness into stupidity.

A good hazing would be one where the person would endure a physical and mental challenge, but the result would improve the challengers mindset without permanent damage. For example, at my school we will run newly promoted students through a gauntlet. This is a grueling sparring circuit where they do MMA sparring with new opponent’s every minute for 10 minutes.

After a few minutes, most people are walking dead, lol. At that point, everyone is cheering them on as their opponent’s are attacking them. There is a good level of control in the sparring, and no one is being hurt maliciously. At the end of the session, besides a few bumps and bruises, everyone feels a sense of accomplishment and is proud to receive their new rank.

This to me is a positive experience. We put someone through a tough challenge and they came out to survive it. It is also directly applicable to the discipline they are working to master as well. As a result, students feel much more deserving of their new rank and share a bond with fellow students that went through the same ritual.

In BJJ, it’s common to have the belt whipping initiation, where newly promoted students have to walk through a line of fellow students who whip them in the back with the belt. That sounds a lot more brutal than the reality of it, which is more light hearted in nature. I’m not a big fan of this though, because I don’t see a good translation of this sort of toughness versus being a better Jiu Jitsu student.

But it’s better than what we saw in the video above. That to me is the equivalent of branding someone. Probably worse, because having cauliflower ear can somewhat impair your hearing (depending how your ear deforms), and can lead to further injury with repeated damage. Plus, say goodbye to wearing in-ear headphones. 🙂

In summary, a rite of passage can be a positive experience that helps strengthen the individual and create deeper bonds to a group. But you have to be careful of not crossing that line between toughness and stupidity. If someone is filming you and getting ready to upload it online, chances are you have already crossed over, lol!

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?

Comment with your take on this. And if you like this article, please do me a solid and share it with your friends. Thanks!

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