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9 Shocking Things You Didn't Know About Martial Arts

Photo credit to michaelcsm

As the popularity of martial arts continues to rise, more and more people begin to show interest in the sport. This could already be seen at the recently held "Pursuit of Power" by ONE Championship on 13th July, where while there were many avid fans chattering about their favourite athletes, there were also equally excited yet slightly lost looking new fans. When questioned, the latter admitted that though they enjoy the sport, there are lots of things they don't know about official martial arts matches.

With that in mind, let's take a quick look at a couple of facts about martial arts events like "Pursuit of Power", while learning a thing or two about our local martial arts scene too!

It's a lot like the movies

Photo credit to melissakartini

You know how flashy and loud movies surrounding martial arts matches are? How even fireworks are used to light up the stage? And how the athletes are almost like entertainers in the way they introduce themselves? Some would roar, some would have a certain type of music put on, some would put on a bit of a show for the audience, the works.

If that's the impression you have in mind thanks to Hollywood movies, you will not be disappointed when you attend a live martial arts match. They are more or less the same, no exaggeration.

Malaysia's Agilan Thani is one of the world's best

Malaysia has a lot to be proud about when it comes to the martial arts scene. For instance, did you know that our very own Agilan "The Alligator" Thani is one of the world's best welterweight martial artists? Bet you didn't see that one coming, huh?

At the age of 22, Agilan has become known and respected for his relentless pace and suffocating ground attack, hence the nickname. More than that, however, he also serves as a symbol of inspiration for many, as he had overcome obesity and rose above the trauma of physical and psychological bullying through martial arts. You cannot get more inspirational than that!

There are rules

Many, many, many rules... Despite popular belief, martial arts is not the no holds barred sport that it is made out to be. At least, not anymore.

The rules are incredibly thorough and include the number of rounds, the way matches are judged, the type of cage used, weight divisions and what is considered a foul (exp: no headbutting, no hitting behind the head, no hitting below the belt, etc). It is thanks to these rules, the categorisation of fouls in particular, that the risk of serious injury is minimised. Believe it or not, statistics show that martial artists are less likely to obtain serious injury than athletes in other major sports like football.

There are weight classes

ONE Championship currently uses ten different weight classes. They are as follows:

  • Atomweight: 52kg (Female)

  • Strawweight: 56kg (Male/Female)

  • Flyweight: 60kg (Male/Female)

  • Bantamweight: 65kg (Male/Female)

  • Featherweight: 70kg (Male)

  • Lightweight: 77kg (Male)

  • Welterweight: 84kg (Male)

  • Middleweight: 93kg (Male)

  • Cruiserweight: 102kg (Male)

  • Heavyweight: 120kg (Male)

There are female athletes too

With the amount of attention placed on male athletes (and understandably so, given their numbers), it is easy to forget about the existence of female athletes. There aren't many, but they're out there. For comparison, out of the 11 matches that took place during "Pursuit of Power", there was only one female match i.e. our very own Jihin Radzuan vs Indonesia's Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol.

Fun fact: Jihin won that match by judges' decision. Can I get a heck yeah?!

Large audiences

Photo credit to melissakartini

When I say large, I mean large. The queues heading into Axiata Arena for "Pursuit of Power" were so long, that they snaked way past the length of the building itself.

And not just for a few minutes either. These lines lasted till past 8PM, and the event started at 7PM, with the doors opened at 6PM! Talk about incredible. Clearly, if you're interested in attending an martial arts match, you should rush to book a seat as soon as possible. There are tons of others vying for it.

Some bouts end quickly

You'd be surprised by how some bouts can end so quickly. Most athletes undergo brutal training prior to matches, with critical focus on both offensive and defensive techniques, all the while taking care of their diet. This is to ensure that they are in tip-top shape come the day of the match.

Which means they sure as Hell know how to deliver a punch. A well-aimed punch with a heck of a lot of power behind it can very well turn out to be a one-hit KO, so make sure you pay full attention during bouts! You could very well miss a prime shot if you let your attention wander for even a second. Fun fact: One of the shortest bouts ever lasted for just over a second before a one-hit KO was delivered.

The respect

This one might take you aback given how athletes are pitted against one another in matches, but hugs and handshakes (in some cases, depending on culture, bows) matter a lot in martial arts matches! It might be a bit difficult to understand how anyone could shake hands, let alone hug someone who had just beat them senseless, but it's true.

Martial artists respect the sport, and they respect their opponents; they understand just how much grueling work is involved in becoming a professional athlete.

One of the most heartwarming displays of this was during "Pursuit of Power", when Japan's Kazuki Tokudome and Mongolia's Narantungalag Jadambaa knelt on the ground to the point their heads touched the floor (dogeza).

A bout can finish in different ways

Sometimes, the result of a match isn't that clear cut. After all, not every match can end with a knockout.

So what other ways can a bout end? Here are the rest: submission, verbal tapout, technical knockout by referee stoppage, athlete’s cornerman requests a stoppage and decision.

Examples of non-knockout decisions made during "Pursuit of Power" are as follows:

  • Judges' decision: Tyler McGuire (WIN) vs Luis Santos; Narantungalag Jadambaa (WIN) vs Kazuki Tokudome; Sergej Maslobojev (WIN) vs Florent Kaouachi; Jihin Radzuan (WIN) vs Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol; Trestle Tan vs Dae Sung Park (WIN).

  • Submission: Keanu Subba (WIN) vs Xie Chao; Ariel Sexton (WIN) vs Kota Shimoishi.

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Written by Crunch's Melissa Kartini

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