Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fighting and Brain Damage

Don Williams said...

Thought I would give you a heads up regarding NY Times report about new medical findings re mental problems that can crop up in mid-old age due to repetitive concussions experienced while young from sports like boxing. Something to watch in sparring.
Looks like damage can occur but not be evident until a decade or so later.

See http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/18/sports/hockey/18concussion.html?_r=1&hp

Thanks Don,
This is a quote from the link above:
“Repetitive head injuries can have very serious long-term consequences, regardless of how you get them.”
I’d say repetitive impacts (not necessarily injuries) to the head is enough to have long term consequences.
The problem with professional boxers isn’t that they get KO, the problem is that they don’t get KO enough.


You see, with boxing gloves, boxers can keep hitting each other for unnaturally extended periods of time. The constant punches to the head, while in some cases not enough to knock you down, will has long term consequences. Constant shock to the head will do that, even if you never go down.
Meanwhile in UFC matches, this does not occur that much. A couple punches, even a single good punch to the face will drop the other guy.

The sport itself may look more brutal than boxing, but in reality its much more natural. Guy gets clocked, he goes down. Same on street fights. But in boxing, they spend maybe half an hour punching each other on the head, and a KO is much less likely unless there’s a very accurately placed punch to the jaw, stomach or kidney, or a very powerful blow to the head.
Something similar happens for example when comparing Football with Rugby. The protection allows people to take greater punishment sometimes, but the shock is still there. If you think about it its like wearing a helmet when riding a bike. You wear it in case there’s an accident, you don’t buy a helmet so you can smash your head against a wall a couple hours a day.

Having said all this, this is mostly a problem for pros or serious amateur fighters that compete and train a lot.

For most of us, training and occasionally fighting, even participating in informal competitions once in a while, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Id recommend at least once a year, measuring your skills against others in full contact self defense. At least to know where you’re standing really. Sparring once or twice a week isn’t a problem either, if you do it with like minded people. Most of these problems are concerns for professional fighters.
For most of us, the health benefits alone greatly out weight the risks, and I’m not even getting into self defense.

Don’t let this be an excuse to become a blob of lard sitting in a cushion “No, I don’t do sports or fight because of head trauma” and then cholesterol and your overweight kills you by the time you’re 50, if not sooner.



Anonymous said...


My son is becoming a Brazilian jiu jitsu expert. From what I can see, it is the most fucntional martial art, and I've studied tae kwan do and kung fu.



Anonymous said...

The reason professional boxing matches last so long is that it is necessary for it to last a while if you are going to charge people money to watch it.

Who would spend a hundred bucks to watch a match that was only going to last two minutes?

FerFAL said...

I think the main reason for boxing gloves at first was to make it less bloody, but you do have a point there. Bareknuckle fights are usually very short.
I think its started as a honest way to make fights more “civilized” so to speak but as they became more professional and technical it turned against its original purpose, creating an unnatural situation where the fighters took much more punishment than they would without it. Again, the football and rugby comparison comes to mind.


Jedi said...

@Anonymous #1/Capesurvivor,

Brazilian jiu jitsu is one of the most effective martial arts you could teach your son when it comes to ground fighting. More than likely he will also learn some wrestling in his BJJ class, which will make him even more effective on the ground.

I would also recommend that you eventually add some stand up fighting to his training. The best one, in my opinion, is muay thai/thai boxing.

It's great that you're son is starting his training early. Those skills will really serve him well.

@Anonymous #2

"Who would spend a hundred bucks to watch a match that was only going to last two minutes?"

As an avid UFC/MMA fan, I can speak from experience and say that A LOT of people would pay WAY more than $100 to watch a fight that lasts less than a minute.

I went to a UFC event a year ago and paid $250 for a mid-level seat. Seats along the floor were $500-$1,000. Several of the fights ended in less than 1 minute. True fight fans want to see a demonstration of extreme skill. If that ends the fight quickly, it's even more amazing. We're not interested in watching a long, drawn out, one-dimensional punch fest with two guys hitting each other with pillows for fists for 15 rounds.

Not only is that more dangerous for the fighters, but compared to MMA, it's far less realistic and, in my opinion, extremely boring.