The presumption that fist fights have a long-term effect on health persists among medical experts and is unraveled every few years. The opinions mostly relate to boxing, but can also be interesting for a kickboxer. We want to give you a brief insight into the viewpoints of proponents and opponents.
In 30 seconds the most important:
- Enormous forces are at work in boxing, a professional boxer reaches +/- 700 kg of punching power with his dominant punching hand (Wladimir Klitschko)
- There are studies that prove negative long-term consequences of boxing, such as dementia. However, these remained inconsequential.
- In kickboxing, however, there are different protective equipment depending on the federation.
Opinion among physicians is not clear and we are not physicians. However, different opinions can be gathered and interpreted, which is exactly what we have done below.
Doctors give counter
The goal is a knockout of the opponent. This knockout is achieved by sending the rival to the ground with as many body and head hits as possible and staying there. A point victory is super, but only a victory by knockout proves absolute dominance.
High forces are at work with head hits
With hard punch of a professional boxer up to 700 kg punch force!
With a head hit, the skull of the person hit is strongly shaken and briefly deformed. Kicks have more force, but because of the longer path to the head, they are rarely hit with such intensity that it would be damaging. Fists, on the other hand, can easily reach speeds of 10 meters per second in a professional boxer and hit with much greater precision. So it’s not just the knockout blow that matters, but also the amount a boxer takes before going down.
A professional boxer, such as Wladimir Klitschko, reaches a force of 700 kilograms with his right punching hand, and 300 kilograms with his weak right punching hand.
Boxing can lead to permanent damage
Head hits or frequent knockouts lead to permanent damage such as dementia
The case of knockout occurs when one of the opponents suffers a blunt traumatic brain injury that results in temporary unconsciousness. This unconsciousness passes and the short-term effects such as headache, dizziness or hearing damage can be eliminated under medical supervision. However, medical experts fear that these traumas, especially if they occur repeatedly, leave permanent damage.
There are only a handful of attempts to prove this long-term damage here, but increasingly, doctors are complaining that long-time boxers exhibit various mental weaknesses. In addition, boxers’ brains have been examined microscopically and showed significant damage. An article from the Technical University of Munich even states that after a craniocerebral trauma, the same mechanisms were observed in animal experiments as occur in the disease known as “Alzheimer’s.”
In 2005, the World Medical Association (WMA) called for a general ban on boxing. However, this demand has little chance of success due to the large lobby behind the sport.
Pro from fans and organizers
Professional boxing is one of the most celebrated events in the world. Whether it’s Maske, Ali or Klitschko, when they defend their title, the whole world watches and cheers when one goes down. Of course, the fame that the successful boxer receives, as well as the revenue that comes from the lobby around the sport, do not make professional boxers and organizers doubt the legitimacy of such competitions at all.
Moreover, Vitali Klitschko won 45 out of 47 fights and thus has little reason to worry about his health, and mentally he is not in bad shape either, having been elected mayor of Kiev at the end of 2015. The situation may be different for his rivals.
Demands for more protection
Back to kickboxing in particular: Wearing appropriate protective equipment, as is common in the amateur sector (also in boxing), reduces the risk of such long-term damage many times over. Here, unfortunately, the rules and regulations are very different.
In Germany, for example, WAKO and WKA competitions in all disciplines are held with head protection and stronger gloves. A knockout is also possible here, but the head protection absorbs part of the punching force. This reduces the risk of trauma enormously and the spectators still get their money’s worth. The WKF in Germany, on the other hand, prescribes strong gloves, but does without head protection in any discipline.
Conclusion: professional combat sport is not without danger
So you see that for every pro there is a con and vice versa. The fact is that this neurological damage cannot be dismissed as a “fantasy”, but represents serious damage, but you don’t have to overestimate that. If we want to start analyzing the dangers of sports, we might as well ban soccer, because more bones are broken there than in kickboxing.
If you are planning to start a career as a professional kickboxer, you could of course think about whether you would prefer to get your titles in a federation that attaches importance to such protective measures. However, we are talking about thousands of head shots that you will have to take in a ten-year professional career, not about weekly training or occasional competitions in regional tournaments. There is no danger to you here, so don’t let the first medical article scare you off.
Please don’t get us wrong: we are big fans of martial arts, including kickboxing. We just want to neutrally point out the effect of martial arts on professional fighters. This should in no way discourage you from learning the sport, even in training there is no such danger (unless you regularly spar there with inadequate protective equipment).
- 08.12.2010 – Professor Förstl, the head of the Clinic and Polyclinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Technical University of Munich, see also http://www.taz.de/!5130865/
- 02.06.2011 – Frankfurter Rundschau: http://www.fr-online.de/wissenschaft/gesundheitsfolgen-des-boxens-erst-kommt-der-knock-out–dann-die-demenz,1472788,8516600.html