Friday, January 13, 2006

So you think my sport is too violent?

It is very common for people to tell me that Mixed Martial Arts, the sport I train in and write about, is too violent. The human cock fight. Modern day gladiator games. Just to name a few things I hear on a fairly regular basis. Now that another year has passed and another year with 0 deaths in my sport. At least 8 people lost their lives in boxing and toughman this year alone.

Before we get into other sports let me go through some things you may or may not know.

The Gloves -
In MMA (mixed martial arts) we wear 4oz gloves. These are designed, like boxing gloves, to protect the hand not the head. Boxers typically where 12-16oz gloves, tough man competitions will typically 18oz gloves. All gloves are designed to protect the hands! More padding = more safety, right? Wrong! It is medically safer to get knocked out cold than it is to continue taking those shots. The 12-18oz gloves due make the punch softer and lighter, but not by much. Just enough to take some of the edge off and prevent more KO's. A knock out is a physical reaction to trauma, just like any other bodily reaction, natural.

The Standing 8 count -
Depending on the state you may have seen a standing 8 count. If the referee deems a fighter is not protecting himself he will seperate the fighters and count to 8 while examining the boxer and asking him if he wishes to continue. You may or may not know this but men are pretty stubborn! It is incredibly rare to see a boxer give up or quit. If he is standing and responding to the questions he is allowed to continue. This is done because it is safer for the fighter, right? Wrong! This allows the boxer to 'get his whits about him' sure, but should he continue. For a moment let me get away from boxing and see if I can illustrate this a different way. Let's say you are out at a bar and have had to much to drink. You are snokkered! How many times have you done or seen someone who claims they can drive stand real still and with full determination take a few deep breaths and try to convince you they are OK. If you've had this happen you know that for a second they appear fine. You may notice this reaction if you've been pulled over after a few. I wont claim to know all that goes on inside the body but your adreneline will kick in and help you. But does it make you sober? NO! Neither does the standing 8 count. The fighter knows in order to continue he needs to appear coherant. He puts his full concentration into it and is allowed to continue. In MMA if the fighter is 'wobbled' the fight continues, he is either about to get knocked out or he wasn't hurt that bad. If a fighter is not protecting himself at any point during the fight it is stopped. Either way there is no 8 seconds to regain a little composure.

The 10 count -
In boxing if you are knocked out you are given 10 seconds to try and get to your feet. I won't go through all the stubborness again but that applies here also. If you can take a step or 2 in the direction of the ref and answer his questions you are allowed to continue. In MMA when you are done you are done. If you are knocked down and not defending yourself the fight is over. Period!

The 3 knock down rule -
In boxing they have a 3 knock down rule. This states that if you get knocked down 3 times in a round the fight is called. This is to protect the fighter from continuing to come back. Well that's all fine and good but it's 2 come backs too many! (see stuborness above) Again, in MMA when you are done you are done!

Let's compare a scenario. Two fighters going at it, one gets wobbled and goes to the canvas. For this scenario we will assume that the downed fighter is hurt pretty bad but still coherant.

In MMA - The other fighter jumps on his opponent and finishes him typically ends the fight with 1 or 2 more punches resulting in a KO or a ref stoppage. Watch some MMA, you will see this play out time and time again.

In Boxing - The fighter is allowed 10 seconds to regain his composer. He steps back into the center of the ring and takes a combo that sends him to the canvas again. he is given another 10 seconds to regain, takes another punishing combo and the fight is ended. If you watch boxing you have seen this play out as well.

The boxer not only takes more punches but he takes them in that critical time when he is hurt. The martial artist is KO'd, a natural reaction. The boxer is revived just enough to get pummeled again.

Another thing you typically hear after a boxing death was that it was a one sided fight. In the most noted death of the year in boxing Levander Johnson, then chapion, collapsed after losing his belt to Jesus Chavez. Johnson's father and cornerman urged his son to quit in the 8th round. Doctors checked him out in the 10th and allowed him to continue. The ref stopped the fight in the 11th. In a similar situation, I saw both fights, Jeremy Horn was getting completely out matched by Chuck Liddell (UFC Champ). Both Johnson and Horn had severe swelling around 1 eye. Horn stopped the fight himself. Johnson continued. In MMA there is no shame in giving up. The fighters have pride and want to win but there is something to be said for someone who can say to themselves that they are beat. There should be know shame in boxing but there does seem to be a difference.

Every year there are many deaths in boxing. There have been 0 deaths as the result of a sanctioned MMA fight, that's right 0. The boxing commissions continue to discuss fighter safety and hold on to popular myths about fighter safety while the numbers keep racking up. They need only take a look at their distant cousin MMA for a lesson.


Blogger SkinFluteSymphony said...

preach on my friend.

The sooner these truths become more widely accepted the better

4:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not 0 anymore..

I guess "violent" also means 'non-death injuries' in addition to 'deaths'.

The injuries are similar to injuries in other combat sports (

The number of deaths of course is much less since it hasn't been going on for as long or on such a large scale.

7:32 AM  

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