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Joe Rogan might be an unmitigated success these days, but that wasn’t always the case. The fight commentator, comedian, and podcast host revealed that he was actually bullied himself in high school. In fact, Rogan is a staunch anti-bullying advocate after his own experiences, and believes teaching students compassion can go a long way. 

Joe Rogan was bullied 

Joe Rogan
Joe Rogan | Michael S. Schwartz/Getty Images

On The Rosie Show, Joe Rogan revealed that he was targeted himself in high school. “Well I was pushed around. Nobody ever beat me up, but I knew it was coming unless I learned how to fight. When you’re in high school and there are 18-year-old kids, and you’re 14 or 15 and they’re picking on you and you’re like, ‘Wow, I’m smaller than these guys, these guys are basically men. And no one’s gonna stop them. Men can just beat you up.’ What a terrible feeling!” said Rogan.

Rogan says getting bullied was one of the reasons he got into martial arts in the first place. Rogan said, “One of the reasons I got into wrestling, this kid, we had a confrontation in a locker room. I didn’t think we were gonna fight, I was totally bluffing. … I remember him getting me in a headlock, throwing me on the ground, and then leaning like he was gonna punch me in the face and then deciding not to. … I panicked, I had no idea what to do.”

Rogan added that it’s a wild west in high school, and that a single wrong turn can confront you with someone you’d rather not interact with. Rogan explained, “When you’re a boy and you’re around other high school boys, and you just make a wrong turn — you can make a right turn and you might find these dudes out by the AV room and they’re smoking pot outside, like ‘Hey man, what’s up!” Or you can take the wrong turn, and all of a sudden there’s these meatheads that want to beat you up just for a goof and they do it all the time.”

Joe Rogan says this is why bullying happens

Joe Rogan seems to understand that bullying often comes from a place of insecurity or a destabilized home life. On The Rosie Show, he explained his viewpoint. 

“You know, boys just pick on boys. That’s part of being a chimp. Animals find a weak spot and they poke at it. Especially when they’re young, they don’t have context, they don’t understand. The issue with bullying in school is to let kids know the impact that bullying has on other people. It’s a weird natural human instinct to poke at weakness. And a lot of it is based on the massive insecurity that they have, whether it’s in their own life because they’re in a horrible personal situation, or just because you’re 15 and you’re in high school and you can’t believe you’re gonna be a man in three years, and maybe picking on someone else takes you away from the pain of the reality of the craziness of life,” said Rogan.

He went on to add, “I think for men, your own personal sovereignty, as far as the ability to defend yourself, is very important. It’s very important just for well-being. Because the reality is we’re still just some sort of a weird chimp.”

“That’s one of the reasons why, when someone gets bullied when they’re young, it can be so devastating. … It becomes a defining moment for you, you know?” explained Rogan.

Joe Rogan’s antibullying message

As a matter of fact, Joe Rogan recently came out with an anti-bullying message on his Instagram. He reposted a message originally posted by MMA fighter Joe Schilling. 

The message read, “Special request to all you kids returning to school in the next few days: If you see someone who is struggling to make friends or being bullied because he/she doesn’t have many friends or because they are shy or not as pretty or not dressed in the most ‘in’ clothes — PLEASE step up. Say hi or at least smile at them in the hallway. You never know what that person might be facing outside of school. Your kindness might just make a BIG difference in someone’s life! Repost if you agree.” 

Rogan captioned it with, “My man @joe_schilling with a beautiful message. It feels good to be nice to people, and you can genuinely help someone and radically improve their life by doing so. Being nice is cool.”