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The Benefits of Combat Sports

The Benefits of Combat Sports

Combat Sports have many benefits however their main goal is to promote a healthy life style.  Combat Sports are focused on developing physical and mental strength in the participant. Combat sports include; Boxing, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, MMA, Wrestling, Tae Kwon Do, Judo and BJJ plus many other martial arts that teach self defence and physical combat. 

Combat Sports are leading the way with developing participation rates in exercise across Australia. Targeting everything from anti bullying programs, stress release, weight loss programs, confidence development, to basic health and fitness improvement in the lives of everyday Australians. Combat Sports are increasing in popularity across Australia because people are getting fitter, healthier, more confident and more resilient mentally. Australians love a challenge and combat sports provide a healthy lifestyle, great training and a challenge that overall makes you the sort of person that is positive member of society.

Recently the AMA has been outspoken regarding the practice of combat sports, particularly boxing, and are leading a campaign to ban Combat Sports for under 18 people and even to have it removed from international competition. Their argument being that combat sports aim is to cause injury to your opponent and that the sports like boxing are ‘’barbaric’’. This judgement comes from an association whose position is to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Issues that are important to the health and fitness of the nation. We would hope that the AMA take a reasonable and balanced view to their assessment and target issues that are critical to the health of Australia.

The advantages to participation for every Australian, particularly young Australians, far outweigh the risks and dangers of the sport. Every sport requires a solid risk management approach and combat sports are no different. Participation rates in combat sports far outweigh the amount of people actually competing at them and to ban them in any form would remove people of a basic human right to choose. It would also drive young active kids to more dangerous sports with far higher injury and concussion rates. Sports like Rugby league and Aussie rules are contact sports and have far greater per participant risks of serious injury. You face a risk of being hit at some combat sports but you see it coming, it is from a short and predictable range and you train for it and prepare for it. There is a referee right there and everyone involved focuses on safety first. More people have been seriously injured in Aussie rules and rugby last year than all combat sports combined.

The AMA claims combat sports aim is to injure your opponent. This is an example of how little understanding some medical professionals have. Combat Sports competitors never stand opposite someone and think their aim is to injure their opponent; we all have too much respect for that. We are just trying to challenge ourselves, to face a test and win in accordance with the rules. To best our opponent with better skill, fitness and personal character.

The modern world has many challenges and risks. Heart disease, diabetes, allergies and obesity are more common than ever. Children face increased stress, social media is overwhelming their life, bullying rates are higher than ever. It is paramount that our children learn about health, exercise and make informed choices about the activities they participate in. Sport in Australia is a part of the fabric of our society and sport needs to be more than just a game. It needs to build character as well as health and fitness in the population and it is more important for the youth than ever. Combat Sports and Martial Arts offer a fantastic way to get fit, engage with friends, eat better, cope with stress and importantly, develop a character of respect and humility that is integral to all effective martial arts.

Combat Sports teach self defence because they instil confidence and self-reliance. They encourage participants to stand up for themselves and have the mental and physical resilience to cope with the challenges of modern life. Combat Sports can be an outlet for stress and instil discipline to achieve at all aspects of life. In the real world there are bullies, violence in the street and in the home. There are alcohol problems and physical dangers. Combat Sports are not just a sport, they are as important as learning to swim and first aid because they teach people to be mentally stronger, to cope with adversity and to deal with challenges. They are character developing and they are a positive part of your life.

Aggression and violence are a problem in society and always have been. One fact that is important to realise, is that people who train to fight, serious professional athletes, martial artists and combat sports practitioners are far less likely to ever get in a fight, start a fight or be involved in violence than your average person. They drink less, they train more and they are more concerned about violence than people who don’t train at combat sports.

The benefits of doing a combat sport include, great fitness, stress release, a safe outlet for aggression, character development, team work, discipline, respect, self defence and personal confidence. What parent wouldn’t want their kids to have a few of those characteristics? When people train at a combat sports they learn about their body, how to use and how to look after it, how to feed it and how to care for it. How to treat other people with respect and that violence and anger are bad things unwanted in society.

Participants in Combat Sports are not getting drunk, fighting on the street or in their homes. They are exercising their right to free choice and competing against others who have made the same choice. It is about effective risk management practices in training and competition. Responsible coaches are focused on safety above all else. Boxing and Muay Thai have taken on all the recommendations of medical professionals for competition. Pre and post fight medicals, a Dr at every competition (who has the power to stop the fight), a referee whose main focus is the safety of the fighter are just some of the measures taken for competitor safety. No other sport has such close medical supervision.

In a submission to the ACT Government; Boxing ACT wrote: Boxing and combat sports excite strong views amongst many people, doctors included. But the common perception that combat sports are more dangerous than other contact sports (eg football codes) cannot be justified by the evidence. Much of the literature cited by anti-boxing lobbyists is simply not good science. Despite the considerable number of studies that have referred to the deleterious effects of boxing, there are no studies to support a hypothesis that boxing is a significant public health issue. In terms of mortality and morbidity in general, boxing has a safe record, both in absolute terms and per participant per unit of time, and this low rate continues to fall.

There is a risk in competition as in any physical activity. 90% of participants never compete, they enjoy the benefits and practice the sport. Competition is an educated choice that is only made by people with a high level of training and enough information to make an informed decision about risk. The head is a target area for scoring points and this is known, trained for and prepared for. You see it coming and you learn how to deal with it. You protect yourself at all times and prepare for the risks through training. In most sports the danger is higher because you don’t see it coming, there is the aggression but no defence, faster speeds, longer run ups, multiple attackers and many other factors that cause serious injury.

Modern life has hazards and dangers and it is the responsibility of parent to protect their children; learning how to defend yourself against a violent uncaring person is a life skill. Angry, violent people don’t just call you names on the internet – they punch you in the head when you are not ready. If more people trained in combat sports clubs we would have more healthy and respectful young Australians and less people out drinking and getting in fights. If your child is in the wrong place at the wrong time, in bad situation, some training might give them enough skills to survive.

The AMA should focus on what are the real public health issues. We should ban sugar, ban smoking and ban alcohol consumption before we ban any sport. The AMA should provide advice that incorporates fact that are based on research and statistics and not general, biased and poorly informed opinion.  

Combat sports are excellent activities for people of all ages to participate in. There are risks and they are managed professionally. Combat sports contribute to the health and fitness of Australians on a daily basis and in the time honoured tradition of good martial arts – they develop character, something Australians hold dear to their heart.

Anthony Manning

Head Coach

Phoenix Combat Sports Gym