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8 Sports Martial Arts That Will Kill You in a Real Fight

Updated on June 21, 2017
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Mamerto Adan is a feature writer who is back in college once again. Science is one of his favorite topics.

Yes, sport fighting is different from real combat. After all, scuffles happened not in a protected environment, but in a lawless ground where combatants go unprotected with the intentions to do damages. And anything goes in fight; no one is stopping you to cheat to win. But that doesn’t mean what you learn in sports won’t harm anyone. Rules and protective equipment, and sometimes mock weapons are there for a good reason. It will be a battle to the death without those, and some forms of combat sports feature moves that will leave a man bloody in a real confrontation.

Now the list below will focus on sports fighting, martial arts we see in organized competitions. Hence we won’t see combative styles like Krav Maga and Aikido. And no competitive marksmanships on this one, as the list is meant for sports where competitors go one on one.

1. Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA)

What started as a means of reconstructing and preserving ancient European martial arts now grows into a competitive sports. They say HEMA is for nerds and weapon geeks but I don’t want to mess with a practitioner. They train in what knights and other European warriors do in the battlefield. Their disciplines could include swordsmanship and other bladed weapons, polearm, stick fencing and anything that you will see in the historical killing fields of Europe. Some even teaches archery and wrestling. Just to make it short, they could swing something as large as a broadsword, to something as small as a dagger. And these guys are no Olympic fencers either. Their foundations are from ancient fight manual, hence they more technical in their moves.

2. Submission Wrestling

Want to learn how to choke a man and dislodge his joints, you came to the right place pal. Unlike the usual form of wrestling you won’t win here by pins. All you need to do is to lock their joints to a point of breaking and make them submit. If that is not enough, go behind the man and choke him out. And submission wrestling comes in many flavours. The classical Catch Wrestling is a good example. Thanks to MMA we all knew the gentle power of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Then there is the good old Judo, known for its throw but also for its hold. Other styles include the Russian Sambo and the Chinese Shuai Jiao. So if you happen to come across a submission wrestler, do yourself a favour and don’t anger him.

3. Escrima/Arnis/Kali

Let’s pretend that the messy Arnis sports sparring did not happen. You know that mindless stick bashing contest. Good thing that some styles still retain their technical moves that made this beautiful art frighteningly fascinating. You may call it Arnis, Kali, or Escrima depending on the school or place it came, but this art covers a range of disciplines. Like HEMA it teaches swords, knives, sticks and some may include the use of empty hands. There are even others that do Dumog, the Filipino submission wrestling. The rattan baton is the signature training weapon, their safe substitute for bladed implements. In the battle field this art is lethal. As sports it hones timing, foot works and reflexes, not to mention killer instincts. You are basically learning to hack a man when you compete; hence the art is favoured by soldiers and policemen in many parts of the world.

4. Boxing/Kickboxing

Just how many people died fighting in a boxing ring? How many got badly injured from doing kickboxing? And how common are brain damages in full contact bouts? More importantly you saw how these guys prepare in their bouts. They train like elite warriors. They condition their bodies to endure the rigors of a fight and they could deliver blows like machines. Their kicks and punches will maul an average Joe like a ragdoll, and if a gloved hand could knock a person out imagine what a bare knuckle will do. Whether the style is Western Boxing, American Kick Boxing, Chinese Sanda or Muay Thai, a person trained to go full contact with their fists and legs is a frightening sight to behold.

5. MMA

And if a full contact stand-up fight is not enough, a new style of fighting has emerged where men could do even more. Inside a cage, tattooed men go head to head, exchanging blows, wrestling and throwing until a winner is determined. Yup, in Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, fighters are allowed to kick, punch, grapple, lock and choke each other. It started as a way of determining which style of fighting is better. Overtime it evolved into a style of its own, a fighting system combining both the striking and grappling elements of many Martial Arts discipline. In terms of sports fighting, this is the closest thing we could get to actual bare handed combat. So real in fact that it became the element of modern US Army Combative.

6. Swordsmanship

HEMA and KALI do teaches swordsmanship, but there are styles out there that focus on using the sword alone. Everyone is familiar with Olympic Fencing though to be frank thanks to electronic scoring system, the duelling art now resembles a prodding contest, with the participants going on the tag first. Other styles like various Chinese Swordsmanship and Kendo are more dynamic, or bruising at some point. They require extra padding for they use wooden swords for competition. These styles are watered down versions of their art, but they are still potentially lethal when done properly. After all swords, no matter how pretty they are, are killing tools. You could just imagine how bloody a Kendo match will become of the participants uses real swords instead of their shinai (bamboo swords). And even with trainer weapons they could still inflict heavy bruising, seeing how thick their paddings are.

7. Jukendo

A combat art where participants bayonet each other for the win, sounds cruel huh? When the Japanese began using firearms and bayonet in the 17th century, they came up with an art to use it in great effect. It started as Jukenjutsu, whereas techniques are based on another martial arts sojutsu (spear fighting). After World War II the Allies banned the practice for obvious reason, but they allowed it to exist as sports. Hence Jukendo is born. In a competition, each heavily padded man will go against each other with a mokuju, a wooden replica of a rifle with bayonet. Thrusts are preferred and the targets are heart, the throat and the lower left side of the opponent. Ever wonder why?

8. Tankendo

Now if you will learn to fight with fixed bayonet, how about fighting with an unfixed bayonet and this is what Tankendo is all about. Created during the Meiji and Taisho era as the Japanese army modernize, it combines kodachi and handheld bayonet techniques. Takendo is basically short bladed Kendo; the moves are almost the same with Kendo except for the thrust to the torso and a close quarter torso thrust after an arm lock. Hence if Jukendo is learning to bayonet someone to death, Tankendo is learning to hack and stab a man to death.


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