Last week, we considered the evolution of mixed martial arts, specifically:
How do we define the ecosystem of mixed martial arts? Where are its boundaries?
The most obvious boundaries of MMA are its official competition rules. Techniques carrying the highest risk of injury are typically banned:
- Eye gouging
- Hair pulling
- Attacking the groin
- Striking the back of the head, or spine
- Striking the trachea
Significant as they are, these explicit rules do not fully capture the difference between a sporting event and a “martial art” (when conventionally defined as an art of life and death, killing and self-preservation). The majority of rules governing MMA fights are implicit.
So how many unsportsmanlike, illegal, unethical and effective fighting techniques are disallowed in mixed martial arts, really? Let’s list a few of these unwritten rules—rules which are routinely violated in real individual assaults, and in group warfare.
MMA competitors may not:
- Ambush and kill the opponent before the match is officially scheduled to begin.
- Subcontract to another hungry fighter, promising to pay them a percentage of any winnings.
- Threaten to murder the opponent’s family unless they submit.
- Continue to attack after the bout has ended.
- Bribe the judges and referees.
- Use a concealed weapon.
- Call a timeout when they are losing.
- Lie about their weight or experience, to secure a weaker competitor.
- Change the rules of engagement, unilaterally and in secret.
Consider this an exercise, to uncover your assumptions about martial arts and self-defense. Can you think of any other “unwritten rules”?