Mixed Emotions About MMA

I need a second opinion, since I’m biased and totally ignorant about the subject, which is mixed martial arts. The backstory is that my younger teenage brother recently decided to start secretly learning MMA. My parents are still unaware. I only know because he asked me for a ride when his car broke down.


He hadn’t told anyone, and I doubt that I’d have discovered it if he hasn’t run out of options. He tried to make me promise not to reveal his secret to our parents, knowing full well that they’ll be horribly worried about his safety.


The problem is that it’s clearly important to him–important enough to essentially lie about it instead of asking for permission. I get it because I was once where he was. My main concern is him getting hurt and being overly violent but I realize that my opinion is based almost exclusively on the UFC. That’s why I need a second opinion to help me understand the sport.


It’s terrific to see a sibling display concern while simultaneously acknowledging a limited perspective sure to influence the decision-making process. Resolving this type of moral dilemma requires that you approach it from multiple perspectives (i.e., emotional, logical, cultural, etc.), especially because it happens to involve a rather controversial topic. Writers at the Boston Globe discuss how MMA sends mixed messages about violence in sports and other skeptics openly question whether or not MMA deserves social acceptance.


That being said, there are always two sides to every dispute. Advocates of the sport have argued that despite all the blood, MMA is actually safer than boxing. Other proponents have utilized a published concussion report to make similar safety comparisons to playing football in the NFL. Many of these arguments are both convincing and scientifically sound because the sport is brutal, sensationalized, and widely misunderstood. That’s why it’s crucial to understand what mixed martial arts is supposed to be versus what it is.


Jay Dann at Mirror wrote a salient piece for the publication highlighting eleven things you need to know about MMA. Pay close attention to his eighth point: MMA fighters are highly skilled sportsmen and women. This might seem obvious but it’s commonly overlooked. Many disciplines of martial arts encourage restraint, respect, honor, courage, and reciprocity. Perhaps more importantly, the bouts of open hand-to-hand combat can end in a variety of ways.


Take boxing matches, for instance, which typically conclude when a set time period ends (i.e., both contestants endure intense physical trauma and exertion) or one of the competitors renders the other one unconscious through blunt force (i.e., knocks them out). By comparison, MMA matches can also conclude as a result of a submission (i.e., applying near terminal force to bones, joints, and blood flows). Fortunately, editors at The Washington Post investigated these exact scenarios and published the findings about how every UFC fight in 2015 ended.


Simply remember that any sport can be easily misrepresented and caricatured. MMA is composed of numerous types of martial arts styles with a wide variety of origins, many of which have rich histories filled with compelling characters who championed their art and craft throughout the ages. What matters most is finding a school or academy that encourages and embodies the right values and principles. In other words, your mission should be to learn about the sport and then to investigate the school and/or academy that your brother has chosen. That’s much more likely to yield a mutually agreeable conclusion.


“Discipline. Honor. Respect. This is why I appreciate MMA.” — Houston Alexander


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