Boxing is a common fighting sport
A combat sport, or fighting sport, is a competitive contact sport with one-on-one combat. Determining the winner depends on the particular contest's rules. In many fighting sports, a contestant wins by scoring more points than the opponent or by disabling the opponent. Boxing, Kickboxing, amateur wrestling, Judo, Brazilian Jujitsu, mixed martial arts, and Muay Thai are examples of combat sports.
Folk wrestling exists in many forms and in most cultures, and can be considered a cultural universal. The Ancient Olympic Games were largely composed of sports that tested skills related to combat, such as armored foot races, boxing, wrestling, pankration and chariot racing, amongst others. Combat sports are first recorded during the Olympic games of 648 B.C. with pankration. Pankration allowed competitors to use all striking and grappling techniques. The only rules for this sport in its origin were no biting and no eye gouging. A winner was decided by submission, unconsciousness, or even death of an opponent. It is a common occurrence for matches to last for hours. Pankration grew in popularity during the Hellenic Period. Matches were in small square arenas to promote engagement. This tradition of combat sports was taken even further by the Romans with gladiators who would fight with weapons, sometimes to the death.
Through the Middle ages and Renaissance the tournament became popular, with jousting as a main event. While the tournament was popular amongst aristocrats, combative sports where practiced by all levels of society. The German school of late medieval martial arts distinguished sportive combat (schimpf) from serious combat (ernst). In the German Renaissance, sportive combat competitions were known as Fechtschulen, corresponding to the Prize Playing in Tudor England. Out of these Prize Playing events developed the English boxing (or prizefighting) of the 18th century, which evolved into modern boxing with the introduction of the Marquess of Queensberry rules in 1867.
Amateur boxing was part of the modern Olympic Games since their introduction in 1904. Professional boxing became popular in the United States in the 1920s and experienced a "golden age" after World War II.
The creation of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is attributed to the Gracie family of Brazil in 1925 after Asian martial arts were introduced to Brazil. Vale-tudo, wrestling, muay thai kickboxing and luta livre gained popularity. Modern Muay Thai was developed in the 1920s to 1930s. Sambo was introduced in the Soviet Union. Modern Taekwondo also emerged after the Japanese occupation of Korea and became an Olympic sport in 2000. Sanshou as part of modern wush was developed in the People's Republic of China since the 1950s. Kickboxing and full contact karate were developed in the 1960s and became popular in Japan and the West during the 1980s and 1990s. Modern Mixed Martial Arts developed out of the interconnected subcultures of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and shoot wrestling. It was introduced in Japan in the form of Shooto in 1985, and in the United States as Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1993. Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts were introduced in 2000, and the sport experienced a peak of popularity in the 2000s.
Today athletes usually fight one-on-one, but may still use various skill sets such as strikes in boxing that only allows punching, taekwondo where punches and kicks are the focus or muay thai and burmese boxing that also allow the use of elbows and knees. There are also grappling based sports that may concentrate on obtaining a superior position as in freestyle or Collegiate wrestling using throws such as in judo and Greco-Roman wrestling the use of submissions as in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Modern mixed martial arts competitions are similar to the historic Greek Olympic sport of pankration and allow a wide range of both striking and grappling techniques.
Combat sports may also be armed and the athletes compete using weapons, such as types of sword in western fencing (the foil, épée and saber) and kendo (shinai). Modern combat sports may also wear complex armour, like SCA Heavy Combat and kendo. In Gatka and Modern Arnis sticks are used, sometimes representing knives and swords.
List of combat sports
- Fist Fighting (Boxing)
- Kickboxing (under Japanese, American & European rules) and analogous styles
- Pinning, clinching and takedown oriented wrestling
- Submission grappling:
- Folk wrestling (Numerous Regional Styles Worldwide)
- Catch wrestling (Western Submission Wrestling)
Hybrid martial arts, combining striking and grappling elements:
- Pankration (Ancient Greek Freestyle Fighting)
- modern Amateur Pankration
- Dambe: traditional form of boxing, including kicking and wrestling elements, practiced by the Hausa people.
- Combat Sambo: Russian sport introduced in the 1920s.
- Vale Tudo (No Rules Freestyle Fighting), derived from Brazilian circus shows of the 1920s.
- Sanshou (Sanda) (Chinese kickboxing within Contemporary Wushu, includes some grappling techniques), institutionalized as part of modern Wushu since the 1950s.
- modern Mixed Martial Arts (Freestyle Fighting), since the 1990s.
- Shoot-style wrestling, since the 1980s.
- (simulated) bladed weapons
- Matrak in 16th century Ottoman Empire
- Fechtschulen (fencing competitions) in 16th to 17th century Germany
- traditional academic fencing (mainly in Germany, 16th century to present)
- Kendo (Japanese fencing)
- Modern fencing
- SCA heavy combat
- Historical European martial arts
- Historical medieval battles (HMB)
- sportive stick fighting
The techniques used can be categorized into three domains: striking, grappling, and weapon usage, with some hybrid rule-sets combining striking and grappling. In combat sports the use of these various techniques are highly regulated to minimize permanent or severe physical damage to each participant though means of organized officiating by a single or multiple referees that can distribute penalties or interrupt the actions of the competitors during the competition. In weapon based sports, the weapons used are made to be non-lethal by means of modifying the striking portions of the weapon and requiring participants to wear protective clothing/armor.
- Poliakoff, Michael. Combat Sports in the Ancient World: Competition, Violence, and Culture. pp. 10–20.
- Armstrong, Walter (1890). Wrestling. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company. p. 77.