The correlation between levels of testosterone and aggression feels most on display when two men compete against each other in a combative sport, like mixed martial arts, boxing or wrestling. Wrestling, like all the other combative sports, has one goal: exert physical dominance over another human being to win a match.
This testosterone is on full display when I pass the District Martial Arts studio every day on my way to work. Inside, bright fluorescent lights illuminate a sparse and brilliant white room: white ceilings, white walls, and white mats. Spaced evenly around the room are twelve pairs of bodies, tightly wrapped around each other like perfectly aligned pretzels on a baking pan.
I’m learning all I can about grown men wrestling at dawn. Let’s call it a case study–one in which I record little snippets of observation each day, where the snippets are equal to the length of one red traffic light.
Here is what I’ve observed so far: Their physicality is impressive. I’ve seen full body takedowns, flip maneuvers, and scissor holds. But I’ve also noticed moments of shared congeniality; times when they laugh, shake hands, and help each other up off the mats. There is a gentleness in their body language during the in-betweens. The contradiction between combatant and companion is most intriguing and warrants further study (at least through June 17th).