PARIS (AFP) – Mixed Martial Arts is attempting to shrug off its image as an ultra-violent, inhuman and even degrading sport in France, where it’s prohibited for professionals but quite adored by hobbyists.
“MMA is not a hooligan’s sport,” insists Bertrand Amoussou, a trainer at an upscale fitness center in a quiet Paris neighborhood in Montmartre.
Joining components from karate, judo, boxing and wrestling, MMA is permitted across Europe except in Norway and France.
It’s played barefoot and with no helmet, while hands are shielded just with fingerless gloves. Despite the prohibition, the discipline has proved irresistible to tens of thousands in France.
“MMA endures from its previous picture when it was quite savage, with bloody fights resembling street brawls,” said Taylor Lapilus, a former jujitsu winner.
At age 24, he became one of the only French professionals to compete in the highest Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in America, having trained in his home country but more than competent to compete elsewhere abroad.
“Most folks misunderstand the sport,” Lapilus said. “It’s not uncommon for individuals to ask me if it s permitted to hit below the belt, or to bite, or to poke your competition in the eye. MMA has strict rules!”
The rules, which are globally standardized, do permit contestants to be hit in the head, when they’re on the mat. A player can win entry, through a knockout blow — locking the competition in one of several kinds of holds — or a referee s decision. The octagonal “cage” in which the fighting is held is designed to shield contestants – and viewers – exactly in the moments when they’re thrown.
Feet & Hands Chess
“Once you get a taste of it you can’t let it go,” said Lisa Amghar, who has stated that MMA is one of the first sports she has practiced in her life.
“MMA is quite whole. You leave the session feeling peaceful and composed,” the 35-year old said after sparring with Adams Soulaimana, a hunk of a man standing 1.93 metres (six foot three inches) tall and weighing 120 kilos (265 pounds), a professional dancer by profession.
“MMA is excellent because there’s no repeat,” said Arnaud Colom, a 50-year old orthopaedic surgeon who has long practiced martial arts. “It s a mixture of all the combat sports that uses techniques for both the feet and the hands.”
A sports professor at the prestigious Lyon’s university, Ecole Normale Superieure, Matthieu Quidu, has started pulling more and more enthusiasts to his MMA course. “For my students, it s a chess game for the legs and feet. It needs strategy (and) adaptability, which are important qualities in professional life,” said Quidu, who is quite experienced in sports sociology research.
As any combat sport, MMA can be quite dangerous as well. “When fighting is down on the mat, it uses entry techniques that are possibly lethal,” Quidu said. ” The craft of it would be to use the exact amount of force to get your opponent stop without damaging him,” he added.
Statistically speaking, gymnastics remain as a discipline that is more harmful than MMA.
People are voyeurs
MMA are a sport that no matter what, bring together millions of viewers on television and in the sport arenas. This is yielding enormous profits for broadcasters.
One could never know what is going to happen at an MMA event. The fights may be fair, but also bloody.
Psychiatrist Jerome Palazzolo had noted that blood is seen consistently dramatic, but that is not an indicator of serious injury in medical terms. Eyebrows areas are the ones that bleed the most.
“If you get hit hard in the head or are knocked out it can be a lot worse, but this doesn’t happen with MMA,” he said.
Individuals are always attracted to violent scenes, hence, the likening of MMA fights to “circus games”.
“Humans are voyeurs, and these scenes perform a kind of exorcism. They achieve specific emotions that are deeply rooted in us, like empathy and hate. But the ones who win at MMA aren’t the men who hit hard but the ones with great technique,” he added.
To sum up, MMA combines some of the finest of all sports. Lovers of MMA are fascinated by techniques. On the other hands, there are the people who see MMA as “habituation happening” (Palazzolo), meaning they may neglect to comprehend and recognize the violence of MMA.