Today saw an article on the BBC publicising “Video footage showing two eight-year-old boys cage-fighting at a Lancashire Labour club which has been condemned by the British Medical Association (BMA)” along with Chris Cloke, head of child protection awareness at the NSPCC, who said: “We would strongly discourage parents from letting their children take part in this kind of fighting.
The BMA sets out that cases of injury in full contact fighting “have not been well catalogued in peer-reviewed medical and scientific research methods” but want to criticise a grappling match between children? Professional fights are full contact, and some semi professional, but participants are generally over the age of 18 and consent to be involved in the competitive environment. Children’s competitions has never, to my knowledge been full contact. The fact that the video posted on the BBC’s website only shows grappling to the same extent of Rugby, Judo or Amateur Wrestling suggests to me that the only issue with the competition is where it took place.
We have a generation of young people who will now be interested in Mixed Martial Arts, or cage fighting as some would call it, and will idolise people like Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre as role models. Artists who control themselves and excel at the highest levels of athletic competition, on par with the Olympics, and the media wants to slam those people who are engaging with young people and allowing them an opportunity to get involved with the sport at its lowest level and in safe conditions supervised by coaches and referees just like Rugby, Judo and Amateur Wrestling and there’s an outcry.
Failing to engage on the known facts and details.
I played Rugby regularly between the ages of 11 and 24, on and off, and I had more injuries than I’ve ever had involved in submission grappling, brazilian ji-jitsu and mixed martial arts. The suggestion that children participating in grappling is more dangerous seems ridiculous to me.
Sky (http://news.sky.com/home/uk-news/article/16074712), the Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8778582/Children-filmed-in-disturbing-cage-fight.html) and the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/sep/21/eight-year-old-children-cage-fight-preston?CMP=twt_gu) have also joined in the debate. Earlier today I tweeted the BMA and asked them if their policy was consistent with all martial arts and combat sports and still waiting on an answer from them. However the best article I’ve seen in support of MMA has been from Gareth A. Davies, regularly presenter on ESPN MMA Live and writer for the Telegraphy, here: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/sport/garethadavies/100019801/the-ignoranti-namely-the-bbc-and-sky-condemn-mma-and-boxing-yet-make-fools-of-themselves/
The full case from the British Medical Association:
Mixed martial arts
As with boxing the BMA opposes mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting and calls for a complete ban on this type of contact sport.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is a mixed martial arts organisation, and was started as a tournament to find the world’s best fighter, irrespective of their style. Early UFC fights were extremely brutal, and was described as “human cockfighting” by Senator John McCain who sent letters to all 50 governors in the United States of America (USA) calling for it to be banned. Political pressures eventually sent the UFC underground, nearly extinguishing its public visibility. This was short-lived however and the UFC has re-emerged and is now more socially acceptable than ever, and has returned to pay-per-view television. MMA is currently undergoing a surge in popularity, with global media coverage, and tournaments regularly taking place in the UK.
The UFC uses an octagonal metal caged enclosure, “The Octagon”, to stage bouts, which last 3-5 rounds of 5 minutes each, or until submission, knock-out or disqualification. Because of its ‘no holds barred’ nature, the UFC fighters are open to a myriad of injuries, including subdural haematoma, thought to be the most common cause of fatalities in boxing. [Reference 23][Reference 24] In addition to fractures, tears, sprains of the ligaments and muscles, primarily knees, shoulders and ankles, there is also the risk of “subclinical electroencephalographic perturbations” due to the use of neck-holding manoeuvres. [Reference 25] Injuries sustained in full-contact fighting arts, in particular martial grappling arts and professional MMA competitions, have not been well catalogued in peer-reviewed medical and scientific research methods, there is however, some evidence of increased risk of brain and joint injuries; with brain injuries more common in striking sports while joint injuries are more common in grappling sports. [Reference 26]
Since 1993, with the inception of UFC and the introduction of MMA to the American mainstream there has been only one death reported, that of Douglas Dedge in 1998. It should be noted, however, that MMA tournaments such as UFC are still in their infancy; so it is too early to draw any meaningful conclusions.