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Traditional Martial Arts ARE Too Deadly
Traditional Martial Arts are too deadly, and you know it. OK, let's replace "deadly" with "effective". That is more to my tastes. Critics of so-called traditional martial arts (TMA) often say that TMA practitioners don't compete in mixed martial arts (MMA) because they say their TMA are "too deadly". Yes, that is often true, but it is also something that I believe MMA practitioners believe, even if they are hesitant to admit it.
A common MMA practitioner rebuttal is "but the MMA practitioner could eye gouge (or whatever deadly TMA technique) too in the street". Yes, but you can't have your logic both ways. If how you practice is how it would likely manifest in real life, then the MMA person could be ill-prepared for the street because they are full of somewhat silly sports notions.
But don't take my word for it. Let's look at the rules for various combat sports. I'm going to copy and paste some rules that I found for various combat sports. You'll see that there are dozens of prohibited strikes and other movements, as well as many artificial conditions imposed (obviously for safety, control, and entertainment) on competitors.
- no intentionally trying to injure your opponent
- no unsportsmanlike conduct
- no non-combativity
- no being too defensive
- no putting hand on opponent's face
- no striking
- no biting
- no eye gouging
- no head butting
- no small joint manipulation
- no hair pulling
- no grabbing the windpipe
- no ear pulling
- no slamming
- no infectious skin diseases (ringworm, stamp, MRSA) or open wounds permitted
- no lubricants, oils, or lotions
- no fleeing to avoid submission
- no stalling
- (gi) the only submission below the waist that is legal for white, blue, and purple belts are straight ankle locks kneebars, figure-four toeholds, and compression locks are legal in brown and black belt divisions only heel hooks, reaping the knee, twisting knee locks, "flying scissor" takedowns, and neck cranks are never legal in gi matches
- (gi) wristlocks and any submissions below the waist are illegal in all Juvenile divisions
- (no gi) the only submissions below the waist legal for novice, beginner, intermediate, and 30+ divisions are straight ankle locks and kneebars.
- (no gi) neck cranks, spine locks, bicep/calf slicers (crushers), and flying scissors takedowns are legal ONLY in Advanced Men's and Women's no-gi divisions
- (no gi) no grabbing of any clothing, including your own, will be permitted
- (no gi)wristlocks and any submissions below the waist are illegal in all Juvenile divisions
- Grabbing the fence
- Holding opponent's shorts or gloves
- Biting or spitting at an opponent
- Hair pulling
- Intentionally placing a finger into any orifice, or into any cut or laceration of an opponent
- Eye gouging of any kind
- Groin attacks
- Downward pointing of elbow strikes
- Small joint manipulation
- Strikes to the spine or back of the head or anything behind the ears (see Rabbit punch)
- Throat strikes of any kind, including, without limitation, grabbing the trachea
- Clawing, pinching, twisting the flesh
- Kicking the head of a grounded opponent (see Soccer kick)
- Kneeing the head of a grounded opponent
- Stomping an opponent on the ground
- Swearing or offensive language in the cage
- Any unsportsmanlike conduct that causes an injury to opponent
- Attacking an opponent during a break
- Attacking an opponent who is under the care of the referee
- Timidity (avoiding contact, consistent dropping of mouthpiece, or faking an injury)
- Interference from a mixed martial artist's cornerman
- Flagrant disregard of the referee's instructions
- Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his or her head or neck (see Piledriver)
- Attacking an opponent after the bell has sounded the end of the period of unarmed combat
- Strikes to the neck, throat, spine, kidneys, joints, groin, knees and below
- Kicks and knees to the head in ground position (from either athletes)
- Stomp kicks
- Intentional breaking of bones or joints (i.e. not giving the opponent's enough time to tap in submission situations)
- Head butts, malicious cross faces
- Eye, ear, or nose gouging, fish hooking
- Pulling of hair, nose or ears
- Spikes (i.e., standing throws onto the head or neck and landing onto the thrower's knee)
- Slams in defense of submission attempts and if opponent's body is above waist level
- Back splashes from standing position
- Combination of joint locks and throws
- Use of the fingers for throat/trachea choking techniques
- Inside or outside heel hooks
- Chin ripping
- Neck cranks (crucifix, full-nelson, can opener, etc.)
- Small joint manipulation
- Holding fewer than 4 fingers or toes
- Coating the skin with any kind of substance or using gauzes or any kind of protective materials without the authorization of the Head medical officer and in agreement with the referee
- Intentional grabbing of competition uniform and protection gear
- Initiating an attack once both competitors are out of bounds
- Strong verbal language (i.e. racist slurs) towards anybody present in the competition hall
- Pretense of injury
- Hair pulling
- Finger locks
- Head butts
- Attacking the groin
- Poking fingers into eyes
- Fish hooking
- Pushing windpipe with thumb or finger(s) or squeezing the windpipe or adam's apple
- Elbows to head or face in B-class contests.
- Striking downward using the point of the elbow.
- Strokes to the throat, back of the head, neck and spinal cord
- Grabbing the ropes and refuse to release the ropes and/or hanging the limbs of the body (hand(s), arm(s), leg(s) or feet) over the rope intentionally. A fighter who places his upper arm over the rope during the match shall be given a warning immediately.
- Escaping to the outside of the ring
- Throwing the opponent outside the ring
- Stalling or failure to initiate any offensive or defensive attack. Making no attempt to finish or damage the opponent.
- If one is standing and the other is not in upright position, the fighter who stands is not allowed to kick or knee to the head.
- While in upright position and having an opponent in a neck lock it is not allowed to throw him, or even try to throw him.
- You cannot hit below the belt, hold, trip, kick, headbutt, wrestle, bite, spit on, or push your opponent.
- You cannot hit with your head, shoulder, forearm, or elbow.
- You cannot hit with an open glove, the inside of the glove, the wrist, the backhand, or the side of the hand.
- You cannot punch your opponent's back, or the back of his head or neck (rabbit punch), or on the kidneys (kidney punch).
- You cannot throw a punch while holding on to the ropes to gain leverage.
- You can't hold your opponent and hit him at the same time, or duck so low that your head is below your opponent's belt line.
- When the referee breaks you from a clinch, you have to take a full step back; you cannot immediately hit your opponent--that's called "hitting on the break" and is illegal.
- You cannot spit out your mouthpiece on purpose to get a rest.
- If you score a knockdown of your opponent, you must go to the farthest neutral corner while the referee makes the count.
- If you "floor" your opponent, you cannot hit him when he's on the canvas.
- A floored boxer has up to ten seconds to get back up on his feet before losing the bout by knockout.
- A boxer who is knocked down cannot be saved by the bell in any round, depending upon the local jurisdiction's rules.
- A boxer who is hit with an accidental low blow has up to five minutes to recover. If s/he cannot continue after five minutes, s/he is considered knocked out.
- If the foul results in an injury that causes the fight to end immediately, the boxer who committed the foul is disqualified.
- If the foul causes an injury but the bout continues, the referee orders the judges to deduct two points from the boxer who caused the injury.
- If an unintentional foul causes the bout to be stopped immediately, the bout is ruled a "no contest" if four rounds have not been fully completed. (If the bout was scheduled for four rounds, then three rounds must have been completed.)
- If four rounds have been completed, the judges' scorecards are tallied and the fighter who is ahead on points is awarded a technical decision. If the scores are even, it will be called a "technical draw."
- If a boxer is knocked out of the ring, he gets a count of 20 to get back in and on his feet. He cannot be assisted.
- In some jurisdictions the standing eight-count or the three knockdown rule also may be in effect.
- In other jurisdictions, only the referee can stop the bout.
- no biting
- no eye gouging
- no spitting
- no head butting
- no wrestling
- no arm locks
- no falling on opponent deliberately
- no holding the ropes
- no swearing or abusive language
- no deliberately striking the groin
- (freestyle) Punishing or brutal holds (ie. no intent to injure) are illegal
- (freestyle) choking; twisting of fingers, arms, toes or feet
- (freestyle) striking the opponent with an elbow or knee
- (freestyle) butting with the head
- (freestyle) pulling hair
- (freestyle) pinching
- (freestyle) biting
- (freestyle) Certain holds on the head, arms or legs are prohibited because of extreme danger to the vertebrae and joints
- (freestyle) headlocks without an arm included to bring an opponent's arm behind his or her back at an acute angle
- (freestyle) driving the opponent head first into the mat from standing position
- (freestyle) leg scissors with the feet crossed may not be applied to the head, neck or body, although it may be used on an opponent's arm or leg
- (freestyle) no fleeing the mat
- (freestyle) no fleeing a hold
- (freestyle) no refusal to start
- (Greco-Roman, in addition to the above for freestyle) any use of the legs, on offense or defense, is illegal
- Why are there gender, weight, and age classes?
- Why are there referees?
- Why are there no weapons?
- Why are there medics standing by?
- Why is there only one opponent?
- Why is there even, relatively soft ground?
- Why is there time limits?
- Why in some are there rest periods?
- Why are there mouth, groin, shin, etc., guards?
- Why are there hand wraps?
- Why are there gloves?
- Why can you win by a point count?
- Why do "the rules" change over time?
- Why does tapping or throwing in a towel stop a fight?
Add to that a completely artificial and controlled environment designed for your relative safety, the fact that a lot of it is on TV ("tell a vision"), with BIG money at stake, marketing ("no holds barred" when many are, "full contact" when not all strikes are allowed), add in steroid and other performance enhancer usage, fixed fights, and you don't even know what you're really seeing. Even freakin' Pankration had some rules, judges, age classes, and prize money on the line. I, personally, am not that naive to believe just because high levels of force are used, that therefore a given martial art demonstrated is more real or more effective than others.
Do you know the long-term effects of being choked out? The long-term effects of concussions (dementia pugilistica), something sports would have loved to keep secret, are now coming to light such as in football.
So in the end, in real life, it is all about the practitioner, the training they do, and mindset. Sports, even combat sports, are just a game. Sports have their place, but sports people, please, do some randomized (ie. you don't know who has it) knife practice with a marker or a fake knife that squirts "blood" for your enlightenment moment as to why we practice traditional martial arts and why people have for thousands of years.
Thanks for reading...and thinking.
And P.S., we train with our "hands down" because that is how unexpected fights tend to start and we are not provoking a fight. Once the fight starts it is, obviously, "hands up".
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Standard martial arts disclaimer: The material contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only. Before undertaking the study of any martial art, you should consult with your physician. You should be aware if you engage in martial arts you are doing so entirely at your own risk, including any present and/or future physical or psychological pain or injury that you may incur. The author of this content cannot assume any responsibility or liability for any injuries or losses that you may incur as a result of acting upon any information provided by this content, or any links to other martial arts information found herein.
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