lördag 15 december 2012

Fascism, Militarism and Physical Culture - CrossFit, RKC and StrongFirst

There is something rotten in the state of "functional training".
A while ago the RKC organization was split in half. Pavel left and brought a large part of the organization core with him to start a new organization: StrongFirst.


My first reaction when I saw the logo was that it reminded me of something born out of the extreme right movement. (A guide to the symbolism of the extreme right here and here.





This brings me to something that has bothered me for quite a while, that there exists within the training community that I belong to - kettlebells, Crossfit etc. - a fascination and flirt with militarism and fascism.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think physical culture, the pursue of strength or other types of physical excellence, is fascist per se. I think humans in general should be physically stronger. There is something else though.

I started thinking about this a few years ago when I read the (massive) marketing of Dragon Door. Dragon Door relies heavily on the testimonials of their customers. In their marketing they publish these testimonials together with the name and title of the customer. A stunning high percentage of these published testimonials came from people who bears arms: police, military, body guards, special operators etc. This of course gives credibility to the claim that the RKC is all Go and no Show. If RKC kettlebell training is enough to prepare these guys it is enough for anyone.

It doesn't stop there though. At a closer look the language of the RKC also bore traces of martial influence: Viking Warrior, Tactical Strength Challenge, Breathing behind the Shield etc. A browse through the Dragon Door forum will reveal more.

With the split this tendencies certainly haven't disappeared. StrongFirst seems to have been created to cleanse the movement from some of the more "feminine" elements that riddled RKC such as a growing emphasis on movement, and to constitute a return to the basic values: Strength First. On social media pictures of tattoos of the StrongFirst logo together with the words "Loyalty, Honor, Respect" have popped up. All of them typical martial virtues.

The RKC/StrongFirst are not alone with this militarist tendency (the might be alone in their fascination for cargo pants though). It is also readily avialable in the Crossfit community. The Hero workouts bear the names of dead soldiers and part of the Crossfit games in 2012 was held at U.S. Marine base Camp Pendleton (which meant that no live footage and no spectators were allowed). It is however perhaps not so surprising to find militaristic tendencies within the Crossfit community since considering its origins in american corporate and physical culture.

An interesting difference between Crossfit and RKC/StrongFirst is the structure of the organization. Crossfit represents a more modern network type structure which emphasizes the fairly independent affiliates. RKC/StrongFirst on the other hand represents a hierarchical structure reminiscent of a military chain of command with the HKCs in the bottom, the RKCs over them etc. At the top we find the "generals", the Master RKCs. Promotion to higher levels are done regularly and seems to be based on achievement. Over the whole structure Pavel hoovers as a supreme, unquestionable leader. Needless to say we find the same structure in fascist organizations.

So, where am I going with this? Am I saying that Crossfit, RKC/StrongFirst, Tacfit etc. are fascist organizations? Not quite. At least I don't think so. But there definitely fascist/militaristic tendencies within those movements. There are cult like tendencies. There is a fascination with militarism. There is a smell of "Unity through Strength" that I find disturbing.



Jon


http://www.media-studies.ca/articles/fascism.htm


8 kommentarer:

  1. Mycket intressant och uppfriskande post! Jag håller i stort sett med dig i allt och återkommer en dag själv i ämnet. Dock vill jag redan nu hävda att det finns en ganska viktig distinktion mellan RKC/Dragondoor, som i första hand drivs av marknadsföring, och nuvarande StrongFirst som mest tycks drivas av värderingar, i alla fall vad jag kan utläsa av de ytterst högdragna bloggposterna på SFG-sidan. Den "gamla" Pavel kunde man i alla fall oftast ta med en nypa salt och skratta åt. Nu däremot får jag mest en klump i magen när jag läser diverse poster, statusar och citat.

    SvaraRadera
  2. Your article is spot on! I`ve taken the phrase "follow the party line" with humor but more and more i see followers say "this is the only way all others are wrong" more and more followers ridicule views of others, few seems able to take independent views in discussions, its more important for some people to belong than to grow.
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