• Jackie Bradbury

In Defense of Combat Sports

Every so often, in the wake of a big event in combat sports or after the passing of a major figure like Muhammad Ali, I often see quite a few comments condemning the very existence of boxing and combat sports such as MMA and professional wrestling (which is not a SPORT-sport, but the physical risks are very real).


While I can certainly understand if it's not your cup of tea - it really isn't mine except on a complete intellectual level - statements such as "it should be banned" bother me.


Of course, that's partially because of my personal beliefs.  I'm a pretty tolerant and laid-back kinda chick.  I'm not a huge fan of using the power of legislation to enforce my personal tastes, even if what other folks are doing could be dangerous.  If there's no coercion or fraud involved, I'm pretty good with consenting adults doing what they want to do, even if it hurt or kills them in the process.


Going by some of the comments I've seen, though, lots of folks outside our community view combat sports as barbaric, as unworthy of modern civilization (as if it's somehow different, ultimately, than base jumping or tightrope walking without safety nets or jumping ten school buses on a motorcycle).


There's always references to the Roman gladiators giving their lives in the arena - never mind that our modern notion of what that was is probably very different than the reality -and the leap is then made that such things will lead to the fall of civilization.

I think this is an outgrowth of the attitude that all violence is bad in all situations.  I fundamentally disagree with this, and I'll write about that in another post, but that's what some folks think.


I think these people live in denial about what being a human is, but I'll let that slide for right now. Most of these anti-violence people will reluctantly grant that violence in certain situations, such as in self defense or by the police enforcing laws or in a "just" war (whatever that is), is okay sometimes.


But they draw the line at violence for entertainment.


These are the same people who probably think what we martial artists do is insane.  They might not watch American football, or rugby, or hockey, either.  Nor would they enjoy martial arts films or action films or TV series.


Heck, professional MMA fighting just became legal in New York in 2016.  MMA got a reputation for a while there as being somehow more dangerous and brutal than boxing thanks to one of those periodic media panics they love to engage in from time to time ("MMA is more brutal than anything ever!!" "Bath Salt Cannibals!" "Crack Baby Epidemic!!" ).


Sometimes those who want to ban combat sports claim that MMA and boxing and sports like those encourage violence - especially criminal violence -  in society in general.


Incidents of violent crime have been on the decline for well over three decades now - coincidentally, that correlates with the rise of MMA as a big thing in the combat sports world. Nope, I'm not buying that argument, even with the (sketchy) studies in the social sciences that suggest that maybe there could possibly be some link if you manipulate the data just the right way.


Ditto violence in other sports, tv and movies, video games, comic books...


You may not enjoy combat sports - and that's cool, you don't have to enjoy it. Don't watch it and don't participate in it if you don't like it.


But for those of us who enjoy combat sports - either as a participant or as a spectator - should have the right to engage in it if they're consenting adults.  It won't lead to the doom of modern civilization.


Do you think combat sports have a positive, negative, or neutral impact on society?  I want to know what you think - let me know in the comments!

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