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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, wrestling, Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Sambo, and Mixed Martial Arts 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 were 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 [UFC] in 1993. Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts were introduced in 2000, and the sport experienced a peak of popularity in the 2000s. With the popularity of MMA hitting its peak in the 2000s it allowed for multiple brands and promotions to become established and form legitimate businesses. The most well-known promotion for MMA is UFC as of 2016, this is due to being able to purchase most of the other competitors such as Strikeforce on March 11, 2011 and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) in late 2006 and later merged with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) after its final fight on December 16, 2010. There are still other promotions working, such as Bellator MMA, ONE Championship and many others.
Combat sporting events are now held internationally all around the world due to the increase in popularity however the violent nature of certain combat sports has led to some governments having to change rules. The New South Wales government in Australia has now created a Combat Sports Authority of New South Wales. They have enforced a registration policy where competitors have to register before being permitted to fight in a scheduled contest. The Combat Sports Authority has also lifted the prohibition of women as boxers as this is seen as discrimination and all cage fighting within New South Wales has been banned.
Popularity of combat sports by gender
Males have been the gender that will often react, enjoy and seek out combat sports due to being a male dominated sport. For many years combat sports were a male only sport with the first recorded female combat sport event in the United States of America on March 28, 1997. A study conducted by Greenwell, Hancock, Simmons and Thorn during 2015 reported that men had more experience in watching and seeking out MMA events unlike women. With this interest in combat sport, companies and promotions such as UFC or Bellator MMA have aimed advertising towards the male demographic as combat sports was more prevalent within that gender. There has been a recent spike of interest in female combat sports due to former UFC Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, females started to watch and seek out information about MMA and more specifically UFC. The most Olympic freestyle wrestling gold medals however are from female participants. Saori Yoshida won three golds in the lightweight division, at Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games. Middleweight wrestler Kaori Icho has also won three golds, at the same games. UFC has had exponential growth within Australia. The media plays an important part in peoples decisions to follow particular sports, when the media portrays MMA in a bad light then the general population will follow that view, yet due to the media showing MMA in a positive light, MMA has been able to become a sensation within Australia that many people enjoy.
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 K1, American & European rules) and analogous styles
- Pinning, clinching and takedown oriented wrestling
- Submission grappling:
- Folk wrestling (Numerous Regional Styles Worldwide)
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.
- Shoot-style wrestling, since the 1980s.
- Shoot boxing Japanese combat sport introduced in 1985.
- Mixed Martial Arts (Freestyle Fighting), since the 1990s.
- (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.
Olympic Combat Sports
- Amateur boxing - (1904 - 2016). Boxing has been staged at every summer Olympic games since 1904 except Stockholm in 1912 due to Swedish law.
- Judo - (1964, 1972 - 2016). Judo was not included in the 1968 Mexico City summer Olympics. Women's judo was added to the Olympics in 1992 in Barcelona.
- Taekwondo - 1988 Seoul Games (demonstration sport), 2000 - 2016. Became an official medal sport at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
- Wrestling (Greco-Roman) - (1908 - 2016). The first form of wrestling to be held at the Olympic Games.
- Wrestling (Freestyle) - (1920 - 2016). Was modified at the 2000 Sydney Games and reduced the amount of weight categories provided.
- Pankration and singlestick are two other forms of combat sports that have been included in the olympics. These combat sports were introduced to the Olympic Games in the early 1900s however singlestick was only represented at the 1904 Olympic games and pankration whilst lasting four centuries in Ancient Greek Olympia's, was not included at all after 1900.
In combat sports, victory is obtained from blows, punches or attacks to the head to a point of physical injury that the opponent is unable to continue. Different forms of combat sport have different rules and regulations into the equipment competitors have to wear. In Amateur boxing seen at the Olympics, competitors are permitted to wear head guards and correctly weighted padded gloves, mouth guards are optional and the canvas floor protection from a hard fall. In sports such as Taekwondo, competitors are permitted to wear a trunk protector, head guard, gloves, groin guard and shin and forearm pads. Professional boxing and UFC are two of the most dangerous combat sports in the world due to the lack of protective gear worn. Competitors in these two sports have the option to wear a mouthguard and must wear suitable gloves. The lack of protective clothing makes competitors vulnerable to concussion and further traumatic head injuries. A scientific experiment, conducted last year by Dr Andrew McIntosh of ACRISP at the Federation University of Australia, tested the impact of 7 different head guards in combat sport. The results of the experiment revealed the benefits of the combination of a glove and headguard in maximising the impact energy attenuation. A study conducted by Lystad showed that combat sports with little to no protective gear such as MMA or boxing has an injury incidence rate range of 85.1-280.7 per 1000 athletes in comparison to another striking combat sport like Taekwondo which has a large amount of protective gear such as pads, headgear, mouth guard and gloves, has an injury incidence rate range of 19.1-138.8 per 1000 athletes. This means that injury rates are drastically lowered when protective gear is used.
List of Protective Gear/Clothing
- Head gear
- Shin Guards
- Arm Guards
- Groin Guard
- Trunk Protector
- Wraps (Material wrapped around the hand that provides added protection and support)
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