Ban Combat Sports = bring it to the street!
Let me just forewarn any new readers that my posts are full of sarcasm and humour. They are basically opinion pieces supported by some research, mainly driven by hours of PhD work in solitude during which I sometimes go slightly mad. If you want to have a go, put a Judo gi on and meet me on the mat, there's no need to be Trolls about it.
Today is a good day.
Today I laughed a lot.
This is what I laughed at -
It's an article published on the ABC's website which describes the ban that the Australian Medical Association would like to put on combat sports, particularly boxing.
I laughed because the people who are calling for this ban are probably sitting in an office and have never had more to do with a combat sport, other than watching Rhonda Rousey's (rather lame) fight scene in Fast and Furious 7*.
I doubt they have watched young men and women struggle with their identities and emotions but then find joy, understanding, support and strength from their martial art. Young men and women who may have used another outlet for their feelings, had it not been for their martial art.
I doubt they know that there is an Australian Judo player who broke his neck in a Judo fight, but is determined to return to the sport because of what it gives him. Purpose. Friendship. Self-respect.
I doubt they have ever watched an Olympic Boxing, Judo Taekwondo or Wrestling match in detail. They seem to be lumping combat sports in with MMA, which, let's be honest is just cock-fighting for people.
If the sports were understood at all, things like this wouldn't be said about them;
"These sports are a public demonstration of interpersonal violence which is unique among sporting activities. Victory is obtained by inflicting on the opponent such a measure of physical injury that the opponent is unable to continue, or which at least can be seen to be significantly greater than is received in return."
Just to clarify, you score in Olympic Taekwondo by points and a strike has to hard enough to register on the sensors. Many strategies involve learning to strike hard enough for a point, but not too hard otherwise you waste energy. The sensors on the head are taken down to very low thresholds so that a flick will set them off. If a player goes all Hulk on their opponent they will get tired, slow down and their opponent will dominate them. Ringcraft and fight control also comes into play, so there's also a lot pf psychology involved in winning. In Olympic Boxing the same applies, but it is more complex because there are no sensors and scores are subjectively given by officials. Ring craft and fight control come more into play. In Judo, a person can win by throwing their opponent clean on their back or to submit them with either a choke, arm bar or pin. Unless you get a Judo player who is rough with throwing their hands to get grips it is unlikely the head will be struck at all.
There are two kinds of Olympic Wrestling, Freestyle and Greco Roman. They are similar but one main difference is that in one style you cannot grab the legs and the other you can. Similar to Judo, unless your opponant is playing rough, it's unlikely your head will be struck at all.
Combat sports are not the problem and do not need to be "banned from the Olympics". Cage fighting and MMA is giving other combat sports a bad name.
The AMA needs to cool their engine on their calls to prohibit combat sports, but they make some good recommendations which I have highlighted below, particularly around hydration.
The full list of AMA recommendations is below (source: https://ama.com.au/position-statement/combat-sport-2015)
The AMA opposes all forms of combat sport. **
The AMA recommends to the International Olympic Committee and the Australian Commonwealth Games Association that boxing be banned from both the Olympic and Commonwealth Games.
The AMA recommends the prohibition of all forms of combat sport for people under the age of 18.
The AMA recommends that media coverage of combat sport should be subject to control codes similar to those which apply to television screening of violence.
Until such time as combat sport is banned, the AMA supports the following steps designed to minimise harm to amateur and professional participants:
At all contests and exhibitions, a medical practitioner should be present and responsible for the medical supervision of that contest. The medical practitioner must be adequately trained to perform ringside resuscitation, including endotracheal tube insertion;
All combat sport jurisdictions should ensure that medical practitioners overseeing any contest are authorised to stop the contest at any time to examine a participant and, if necessary, terminate the bout;
Combat sport jurisdictions should conduct on-going health education and first-aid training for all ringside personnel; and
The AMA recommends to all combat sport jurisdictions that no amateur or professional contest or exhibition be permitted unless:
the contest or exhibition occurs where there are readily available adequate neurosurgical and resuscitative facilities for the emergency treatment of an injured participant;
current resuscitation equipment is available at the ringside; and
there is a comprehensive evacuation procedure for the removal of any injured participant to medical facilities. This procedure should be rehearsed prior to each event.
Until such time as combat sports are banned, the AMA believes that, to reduce the morbidity and mortality rates associated with combat sport, the following modifications to equipment and rules should be undertaken:
increase the time interval between the weigh-in and the bout to at least 72 hours, to allow the participants to rehydrate;
increase the size of the gloves used in both amateur and professional bouts; ^^
introduce the compulsory use of standardised and correctly fitted mouthguards for sparring, exhibition and competition;
decrease the emphasis on scoring blows to the head and awarding points instead for defensive manoeuvres; and #
introduce graded exclusion periods for participants who have been knocked out or have sustained significant blows to the head. Information relating to a knock out history should be recorded in order to inform future decisions.
*Thanks to my partner Kara for making me watch this. Rousey was wearing heels and a tight fitting dress in a fight scene with a woman that in real life she probably could have killed, but instead she ended up landing on some DJ's turntables and miraculously didn't get up, even though the other woman did who was half her size. For anyone looking to inspire young women to get into martial arts, do NOT show them this fight scene.
** Good, lump them all in together.. because grappling (Judo and Wrestling) is exactly the same as Boxing.
^^ Increasing the size of gloves may give boxers more overuse injuries in their wrists and elbows due to the associated increase in glove weight.
# Combat sports were developed primarily as forms of self-defence. Most people use them as such and taking away head blows would reduce their usefulness as methods of self-defence. I personally have never had to use my 10+ years of martial arts training on the street, but I know that a head blow is a fast and effective way to get out of a dangerous situation if I need to.