I owe Frank Grillo a great deal on my path to recovery from depression and anxiety, and it’s odd that I’d find it in the chaotic world of Mixed-Martial Arts.
It’s a subject that is often misunderstood, a sport that is often classified as chaotic and blood thirsty — one of violent individuals and savages.
To the outsider, that may very well seem true; yet the brilliance and eloquence with which Grillo captures the heart and soul of those involved in the sport provides an inside look into the mind of a fighter.
The greatest skill with which FightWorld really sticks out is putting the audience right in the middle of the violence, in the middle of the struggle, providing a view that is rarely shown during Fight-Promotional videos.
The post-fight breakdowns, the weight-cuts, the ruthless practice routines, survival, and perseverance.
In FightWorld we’re revealed a world filled with the truly enthusiastic and empathetic voice of Frank Grillo, who knows and understands the world of fighting; there couldn’t have been a better contender to take on this subject matter with the humility it requires.
We’re shown the bravery of women in Mexico City, who fight for survival and financial support.
We see recovering addicts, fighting their inner demons.
We’re shown the ruthlessness of defeat and the impact it takes in the unforgiving world of Muay Thai, Thailand.
Grillo deals with these issues head on, unafraid and without judgement; he presents it to the audience to view what struggle means for people around the world.
He empathises, revealing the fight-culture within prisons as an outlet for anger-management and sportsmanship.
The camaraderie, after the fight finishes and the respect that is shared by the opponents for one another.
In the ring they’re mauling at each other, in defeat they are respectful and display honour for one another.
It encapsulates an unconventional therapy, an outlet for inner struggle — a battle we all face at some point.
Some choose Meditation, Some choose Medicine, Some choose Therapy, Some choose Crime, and some find it in the art of Mixed Martial Arts.
Frank Grillo’s appearance alongside Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, in the Drama/Sport movie Warrior (2011) was my first dramatised view into the world of MMA.
The performances and vulnerabilities of the characters built into the sport struck a chord with me at a time when I was at my lowest.
The medication wasn’t working and neither was the therapy, I was deeply depressed and it felt like I’d really just reached the end of the rope.
It wasn’t until, lying in bed as I always did, Netflix would recommend I watch this film called “Warrior”.
Tom Hardy’s traps were convincing enough to draw me into viewing it.
Nick Nolte’s character as a recovering alcoholic and a failed father trying to make amends, kept me intrigued.
Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Morrison’s portrayal of a family struggling financially, and a father willing to risk his body for the sake of a few more hundred dollars as he struggles through his job as a Chemistry teacher; hooked me in.
And then along came Frank Grillo’s loyal friendly character, who takes a chance with his friend to help prepare him for an upcoming tournament. Whilst, Nick Nolte’s character attempts to the same with Tommy (Tom Hardy).
At the end of the film (no spoilers) — Warrior, a realistic portrayal of struggle, vulnerability, perseverance, forgiveness, and love — convinced me to get a gym membership.
That was almost Three years ago, since I first watched Warrior; yet the motivation it gave me still remains with me to this day — it’s why I started training in Mixed Martial Arts.
Though I don’t have hopes of ever competing professionally, it became my personal therapy.
At times, I didn’t even need a sparring partner or a trainer — I could just go to my room and do Shadow Boxing or hit the bag.
It provided a release, a sense of calm — a feeling that if I could conquer a move with my body, I could conquer the demons unleashed by the brain.
Only recently has a film encapsulated fight culture as a form of recovery and struggle, such as Warrior did back in 2011, a film I highly recommend worth viewing; A Prayer Before Dawn (Based on a True Story).
The significance of Frank Grillo’s FightWorld is not just an insight into chaotic world of fight cultures around the world, it’s the humanity behind it; the legend and pride of those who honour it, the respect for the outlet it provides, the people it brings together, people from wealth, people from poverty, people of different religious beliefs, all coming together to step inside against one another as equals where the only representation of their victory would be their skill as a fighter — and the rat infested boxing gyms, a reminder that no legend was ever forged without struggle.