In a week that sees Bellator and Sky Sports arrive on our shores, the last thing I want to be doing is writing about IMMAF. It is a week to celebrate and showcase all things good in Irish MMA.
I can’t quite believe that the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation has announced that it is removing all head strikes from MMA competition for Under 18s.
At this point I am going to insert the actual relevant section from their updated ruleset.
The question I ask is this. Can you honestly call this sport MMA?
I understand the safety concerns. I have a 15 year old son who is making noises about moving from the Playstation UFC games and actually looking at going to a gym. I have no wanton desire to see him get hit to the head or kicked to the head.
If he must pursue it though I would like him to be prepared to get hit and preferably before he hits 19. Outlawing strikes completely removes one important psychological aspect that is vital to every youngster and oldster training in an MMA gym around the country.
It removes the threat of receiving a strike. It removes a primal fear that every MMA competitor no matter the age must face up to. The threat of getting clipped to the head. It removes a fear that will come flooding back when all of these kids hit 19 years of age. A lot of them will find out too late by then that they are in the wrong sport. In essence you are developing an entirely different kind of athlete.
Removing strikes is not preparing kids for the real world of MMA. By all means have headgear and bigger gloves. By all means have a watered down number of legitimate strikes if you must. But removing strikes completely is ludicrous.
If I look back to my own childhood – I was in a few non-sanctioned fights!. As I sit here and write this a thought has occurred to me, I don’t think I have been in a fight after the age of 18. I got hit a few times and hit people a few times and came to the conclusion I didn’t like either. In other words I figured it out myself. All too often in today’s world we are stopping teenagers figuring things out for themselves. Believe me if a kid gets hit a few times on the chin and isn’t able to respond they will quickly give it up.
If you are gonna removes strikes completely from MMA then do the decent thing and call it a different sport. Mickey Mouse Martials Arts perhaps. MMMA.
MMA in Ireland is serviced by a number of single discipline martial arts. No doubt wrestling and BJJ are two of those. No doubt they won’t have too many issues with the decision by IMMAF.
Historically However, we like sports that involve our fists and it is why boxing is our single most successful sport in the Olympics. Boxing, Kickboxing and Muay Thai are 3 of the biggest feeders of MMA in Ireland. Why would any kid involved with any of these sports look at MMA as an under 18 now?. what would be the point it is not like it will prepare them for real live Mixed Martial arts.
No doubt IMMAF are congratulating themselves on this decision and might point to it as yet another example of their commitment to the safety of fighters. Maybe they will get a short term wave of publicity, maybe it is part of a larger goal to get fast-tracked to Olympic recognition or maybe just maybe they have delivered a self inflicted blow to their own head.
A concussion they may never recover from. As for the under 18’s, sure they’ll keep going to kickboxing, boxing and Muay Thai – and if they want to sample a round or two of MMA sure they’ll always have their Playstations.