It’s worth pointing out that as I write this, I am watching Fighter In The Wind, the stylized biography of one of the toughest martial artists of the modern era, the great Mas Oyama. (It seems to be a pretty cool movie, by the way, though that’s probably because it’s based more on a comic book than on Oyama’s actual life.)
E.K. Hornbeck just sent me this article, titled “Doctors call for ban on mixed martial arts.”
Now I’ve written about this before. But I guess I have to do it again. Here’s the thing: the doctors in the article readily admit that the injury rate in MMA is no greater than that found in boxing or other combat sports. As well, a study cited in the article found that the knockout rate in MMA is lower than that found in boxing. The doctors’ objection to MMA is based solely on the sports’ minimal rule format.
But is that really a rational stance? When it comes to combat sports, the most concerning factor has to be the threat of death or severe disability, i.e. brain injury. The two known MMA deaths in North America both came from internal cranial bleeding, after all. But it seems to me that MMA, as a sport hat allows a competitor to end the fight with means other than blunt trauma (i.e., submissions) is intrinsically safer than, say, boxing, which pretty much requires a knockout –especially now that judges’ decisions in boxing have become so questionable.
The thing about boxing is that it’s an extended session of gloved hands pummeling someone’s head. The thick gloves prevent a quicker end to the fight; but I wonder if they also prolong the low level damage. In comparison, MMA’s thinner gloves allow strikes to be felt more potently, and perhaps serve to end a fight earlier. Regardless, I think the fact that an MMA fight doesn’t rely on knockout punches to the head, but more often becomes a grappling match, makes MMA overall safer than something like boxing.
This is all speculation, of course, as there are no statistics to back up any perspective. Ultimately, to me the issue is one of choice. If we value the nature of our liberal democracy, we must also value the right of autonomous adults to accept the risk of injury and death in the pursuit of their chosen activities. There are limits, of course, but I don’t see how MMA –which is controlled, monitored and which involves extremely well trained and serious participants– comes close to reaching, let alone exceeding, those limits.
In Other News
Someone once told me that we should all keep an “inspiration file”. It’s something like a collection of news clips, images, sons, performances, etc, that make us happy. So when things are down, just access that file and change your mood. I don’t keep such a file. But I did find the following image that, without a doubt, certainly makes me happy. And I think it will make some of you happy, as well:
Oh, I am definitely happy now.