Mixed Martial Arts is a sport with more than a hundred-year tradition. The rules of the combat allow for a variety of fighting styles to be used in a match. Therefore, martial artists skilled in different arts are able to get into one ring. It is a full-contact sport and its roots can be traced all the way back to ancient Rome. A few weeks ago, towards the end of August 2010, doctors had something to say about MMA during the Canadian Medical Association’s general annual meeting.
They overwhelmingly voiced their belief that the sport should not be legalized any further. They argue that MMA is a dangerous sport with too large a prospect of injuries – a lot more significant than in boxing. The British Medical Association (BMA) also presented worries regarding MMA early in 2009 and are actively campaigning against the sport in Britain. They, too, argue that the sport can be very violent. Dr. Ian Gillespie, the president of British Columbia Medical Association (BCMA), says that “MMA fighting, like boxing, is distinct from many other sports in that the basic intent of the fighter is to cause harm in order to incapacitate his or her opponent.” Then he adds: “the various techniques [...] aren’t limited to punching, and there may be the presence of fewer safety rules.”
A website of MMA fans, WatchKalibRun.com, presents their take on the arguments of the British Medical Association. They rightly suggest that the statistics available are extremely limited and point to a US study which earlier found that injury and knock-out rates in Mixed Martial Arts are very similar to those of other fighting activities. The Hamilton Spectator talked to two professionals from the field to find out what they think about the matter. They say that there is less protection in MMA than in box, the referees are more benevolent and there are fewer regulations in general. The fighters don’t aim only at the opponent’s head and body as is the case in box, for instance. That allows for more kinds of injuries, although it possibly decreases the occurrence of head injuries specifically. In general, both professionals are calling for the introduction of standardized procedures in the whole of Canada instead of keeping regulations which are granular across provinces.
So why do the Canadian doctors step up now? Because only recently (in the middle of August 2010), Ontario province government arrived at a decision to legalize MMA in the province. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Warrior One (W1) are the two largest players in Canada. They have already prepared business strategies aiming to develop activities in Toronto and other prominent locations. The premier of Ontario Mr. Dalton McGuinty had to turn a blind eye to sign the law, but insists on close scrutiny of all matches and strict rules as reported by Toronto Sun. Doctors are not happy that there is a lack of trained professionals or paramedics at the matches. They say that even if there were, it would be unbearable for them to powerlessly watch the ongoing injuries without being able to help the fighters. Traditional martial artists opine that the sport denies the basic values of martial arts which lie in respect, discipline, self-control and courtesy.
According to CTV, Dr. Shelby Karpman points out that since the sport is already so popular, outlawing it is likely result in the fighting transferring ‘underground’. Also, medical supervisors would not be asked to take part and thus the artists could count on less care. This translates into even greater danger. With that said, it appears reasonable to say that if the sport itself cannot be banned, it should be very closely regulated and adherence to rules should be controlled. This also means that there should be reasonable medical support present with appropriate competencies; insurance, licensing and preventative measures should be enforced. Just in case you were wondering, extreme sports are a separate chapter of life insurance; not every company will even sell you coverage if you perform this or a similar extreme sport. Those who have such services in their portfolio are going to ask a substantially higher fee. The final price is going to be calculated considering the nature of risk you are facing in your sport. A fighter should be completely aware of any caveats in the policy agreement and should be sure that the match takes place at a properly licensed event. Illegal fights may mar your chances of ever successfully making a claim on your policy. In any case, life insurance will not be sufficient if you perform extreme sports. This is because a fighter will most probably severely harm his or her opponent and will therefore be responsible for all reimbursements. In addition to the host of the match, each fighter should have liability insurance of her or his own. As with life insurance, with liability insurance it applies that the combat should be a part of a duly supervised and licensed venue and is limited by any exclusions in the plan.
Lorne Marr is a Marketing Consultant with LSM Insurance, an independent brokerage company in Toronto. LSM Insurance can help you with specific insurance products, such as life insurance for immigrants or long term care insurance.