Once again New York State government is going through the process of reviewing a bill that would legalize professional mixed martial arts competition in NY. In case you've been living in a bubble, or just haven't really cared, Pro MMA has been illegal in New York State.
There are many opinions on this topic, which is part of the problem. Too many people that don't follow the sport, don't train, and don't really understand the repercussions the current ban has on the lower levels of mixed martial arts are using their voice...well...ignorantly. If you're going to talk about the topic, if you plan on using your voice to influence the decision makers in either direction, it is in everyone's best interest that you get some actual facts on the topic. This recent interview on TapNapSnap.com with Phoenix Carnevale is a probably the best & quickest way to get up to speed!
Check out the Tap.Nap.Snap interview and get yourself informed!
"You're not a fighter, why do you care -- and why should I ?"
I'm not a fighter.
But I think this conversation is an important one, because it isn't just about whether promotion companies can hold Professional fights in New York. It's about the bigger picture -- fighter safety being the #1 priority. This applies to ALL states, and that's why I care. My interest is to make sure that fighters off ALL ages and levels of ability have access to high quality medical care and strength & conditioning services.
Learning the Game:
My background in combat sports started as a 118 pound high school freshman who decided to try wrestling as a way to stay in shape between football & baseball seasons. The result: 0-for-my-career, which was only that one year since I missed the next season with a broken arm...(ah, the memories!) Anywho, fast forward a bunch of years to my last years as an undergraduate student athletic trainer, where I was re-introduced to the medical side of wrestling having worked wrestling between 2 seasons of football, and then a high school internship and Sectionals.
Fast forward another few years, and two things have happened: First, I live in Las Vegas, which is basically Combat Sport Mecca. Home of big time boxing. Home of the UFC. Tons of BJJ and MMA studios. Most people are familiar the fact that mixed martial arts is THE fastest growing sport around the world. This means more people training, people of all ages & abilities. Second, my exposure & work within the USOC's Volunteer Medical Program has provided me the opportunity to work major international events with Wrestling & Judo. These experiences were so compelling, I knew very early on that my path was shifting to a focus on combat sports.
Recently, I have had the privilege and opportunity to begin training in Submission Grappling, and it has been nothing short of awesome. Learning new skills, pushing yourself mentally and physically, and gaining a superior understanding of the intricacies of the sport to help me better focus my professional abilities is invaluable.
Hopefully you're not just reading this, hopefully you will take the time to listen to the interview above. It will give you more insight into why you should care, especially if you live in New York. But just in case, here's my top few hot points about why I feel so strongly in support of legalizing Pro MMA in NY:
The voice of ignorance: "MMA is just a brutal, violent mess with 2 neanderthals face punching each other that just promotes social violence."
First off, what does MMA stand for? Mixed Martial Arts. Mixed, meaning fighters generally train in multiple disciples to have a balanced ground game and standing game. Martial Arts, we don't really have to define this do we? You know what these are: Karate, Taekwondo, Judo, Jiujitsu, Tai Chi, etc. Common among all the martial arts are teachings of respect, self discipline, self confidence, mental focus...and on, and on. Martial arts do not teach violence, it's actually quite the opposite. They tend to teach restraint, not picking fights.
They also give an outlet for people of all ages. This is something I can't quite articulate yet, but I am sure as I get deeper into my own practice I will be able to express more on this thought. I just know that in the short time I have started grappling, the night after those classes and the day following are the calmest days of my week.
Secondly, the dedication to learning these disciplines, both physically and mentally, is impressive in it's own right. I would hope by this day and age we would get beyond the stigma & stereotyping of "a dumb athlete," because at that level, there's no such thing. The technical precision, strength, stamina, mental focus, and psychological control required are huge. And my favorite thing to ponder is The Zone. You know, that ability to be in a 'flow' where you anticipate & react to your opponent while also planning and calculating your offensive -- all in fractions of a second. There is a lot of physical & mental intelligence that goes into performing well in MMA or any martial art.
Now, that's not saying Fighters don't do stupid things. They're human, and the news media makes sure to remind us.
Safety & Medical Clearance Standards
So back to the lecture at hand.
I think what most people don't see is the impact that the professional level has on the amateur divisions. You see, there is very little in terms of standards of care within the MMA world when it comes to medical clearance. There should be a standard of care that applies not just to large scale events like the UFC puts on. Standards should also exist for training facilities as well as amateur events. Athletes don't really understand concussions, what to do & not do, and sometimes where they even have one! Who's monitoring the athlete who takes a head shot during their sparring session? When they say they have a headache, neck pain, and nausea or they 'just got their bell rung a bit', when do you allow them to spar again - tomorrow, the next day, next week? Concussion is just one facet. Training, over-training, recovery & lack thereof are also big issues.
Many states have rules surrounding return to play for high school athletes. There has always been a big push by organization like the NATA (National Athletic Trainer's Association) to have ATC's covering all high school sporting events. I fail to see why this wouldn't also apply to MMA training facilities. Professional sports in other arenas have adopted policies on concussion. MMA as a sport needs to get on board to keep all athletes safe, not just the Pros.
My current journey is to be able to create a Combat Athlete program that is affordable and accessible to fighter or even recreational athletes who are training and looking to maximize their performance and deal with any injuries that may be impacting or limiting their performance or ability to train. In addition, we will be reaching out to be that resource in the MMA community to provide services in similar fashion to the NATA's secondary school's initiative. Hiring on an ATC is not the only option, and there are plenty of ways that we can provide a program and services that make sense for the training facilities. Time will tell.
So, if you haven't listened to the interview above -- dude what are you waiting for?
Next -- Contact the New York State government officials listed on the TapNapSnap.com page.
Here's to keeping fighters safe & performing at their best!
~ K. Bosch
Athletes Physiotherapy - Las Vegas, NV
Thank you for stopping by the Athletes Physiotherapy Blog! Kristopher Bosch founded Athletes Physiotherapy in Las Vegas, NV. He is a Father, physical therapist, athletic trainer, pilates teacher, & perpetual student!
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