Is body conditioning in martial arts bad?

Discussion in 'Chinese Martial Arts Articles' started by Light25, Jan 13, 2018.

  1. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    And which of those protect your brain?
  2. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    The gloves and the headgear?

    I haven't followed your full exchange before answering but just took your post at face value.
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  3. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool the merc with the mouth MAP 2017 Moi Award

    And the sensible training.

    Of course you could always not do any contact training and pretend you have skills instead.....
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  4. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    Was just about to edit in that being a good partner mitigates against a lot of potential injury.

    I guess the potential long term effects of being punched are always going to be there though.
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  5. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool the merc with the mouth MAP 2017 Moi Award

    Padding takes the sting out, but ignoring that and taking more hits can give you brain problems, but then not sparring at all / too light, gives you a skill deficient, so if you want skills, sensible progressive contact is a happy medium.
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  6. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    living life on the edge :D
    I always wear a cup, I've been dropped too many times by badly aimed shots.
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  7. Unreal Combat

    Unreal Combat Valued Member

    That was kind of the point. I stated that specifically under the video. There's no magical conditioning trick. You just need to tuck your chin down to absorb the whiplash. Even doing that you still cannot eat shots. He nearly gets knocked out in that video wading through them.
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  8. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Gloves and headgear make strikes to the head worse for your brain.

    They protect against superficial injury; fractures and cuts. They in no way protect the brain. Many doctors argue that gloves allow greater force to be used when punching the head, and headgear has been shown to drastically increase the risk of concussion.

    - AIBA: No headgear in 2016 Olympic boxing - The Ring

    I just wanted to mention this because I think a lot of people still believe that headgear or gloves reduce the risk of brain injury, when the opposite is true.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2018
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  9. Unreal Combat

    Unreal Combat Valued Member

    People are moving away from head gear as some more recent studies are finding it is detrimental. It's no longer worn in amateur boxing. People tend to use them in fight camps to avoid cuts more than concussion. You can still get concussed regardless of what protective gear you are wearing.

    Personally I avoid wearing them where possible. I've worn one once and threw it away after the first round of sparring as I found it uncomfortable and restrictive of vision. I performed better and took less shots without it.

    I always wear a cup. I made the mistake of not wearing one during an interclub once and took a near full power Thai roundhouse to the jewels when attempting a head kick. Never again.
  10. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    Well it certainly shows that your chin is massively vulnerable and by extension, that it's better to work on protecting it above any other strategy.

    I think that Yi long - as a sanda fighter - has likely spent zero time attempting to condition his chin though (as you mentioned his stategy isnt reliant on conditioning) and has raised his striking to an extremely high level; not so sure all the guys spending decades on iron body have attempted to condition their chins either although they certainly have attempted to condition their trunk and limbs; so I don't find Yi Long an overtly 'better example' of what can happen if you allow your focus to drift away into tangential practices (old School conditioning activities for trunk and limbs) to the neglect of functional skill sets. But it is a pretty funny demonstration of the folly of letting yourself eat headshots.
  11. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    Yeah all fair points.

    Me too! I hate the feeling of headgear and find it really restrictive.

    Ps - oooooouch!!
  12. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    Good to know!
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  13. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    I read the studies previously.
    For regular training there needs to be way to reduce cuts/facial injuries and hand injuries, but as the study makes clear, gloves/headgear increases the chance of brain damage.

    I wonder if any equipment will come of these studies in the future that allow for some compromise.
  14. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool the merc with the mouth MAP 2017 Moi Award

    I know it's not equipment, but Training intelligently would be the main one. ....
  15. Grond

    Grond Valued Member

    Whatever's appropriate for the gym/sport. A good shop should have a coach who knows what equipment is proper. Contrarily, a bad place is going to have one of those coaches who thinks safety equipment is for the weak, etc and dismisses them. It's not even a martial arts thing, I more than a few fitness and weight gym coaches who have no respect for safety. For a coach to have that sort of thing requires experience watching injuries and knowing better.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2018
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  16. Grond

    Grond Valued Member

    I really don't think there's any peer reviewed science supporting that headgear and gloves increase the risk of brain injury. The AIBA studies are highly controversial and heavily contested by both fighters the scientific community, and a recent poll of the Canadian boxing community showed overwhelming (greater than 70%) disagreement with the AIBA's conclusions.

    Prohibiting Headgear for Safety in Amateur Boxing? Opinion of the Canadian Boxing Community: an Online Poll

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  17. Grond

    Grond Valued Member

    Cuts and facial injuries are real concerns, which is why headgear is important in training. Competition is another matter, and unfortunately most people disagree with the AIBA's conclusions and the science is not settled. Removing headgear appears to have a positive outcome with respect to brain trauma but only due to changes in officiating, not impact to the brain.

    Which studies did you read? The AIBA data from their internal studies that the ban was based on were not published as far as I know at least as recently as 2018, so maybe you're referring to another set. Bu the conclusions that AIBA has claimed are still hotly debated in boxing crowds. There's this study released shortly after the Canadian poll of the effects of the ban which did find a slightly lower risk of concussion, mostly due to referee stoppage.

    Use of Head Guards in AIBA Boxing Tournaments—A... : Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine

    This is good data supporting removing headgear in PRO bouts, but hardly strong evidence for removing it from training or youth competition.
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  18. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Grond, yes, data is thin on he ground. This is your wheelhouse though so I'd appreciate if you could give your reasons for believing an opinion poll over an unpublished study. Are you saying that the opinion poll is evidence of the AIBA lying about the results of their study? What would be their motivation for faking evidence in support of banning headgear?

    In lieu of any definitive peer-reviewed studies, people have to make up their own mind. My first problem is trying to think of a mechanism by which headgear or gloves can protect the brain. The problem being that I can't think of one. I'm no physicist, but physicists (well, a psychologist with a physics doctorate) have written about this:

    - Let’s Talk Physics, Gloves, Combat Sports and Brain Trauma

    Or by looking at the data on MMA pre and post the instruction of gloves, which increased the number of knockouts by punch tenfold:

    - Knockouts By Punch Increased Tenfold After Gloves Introduced to MMA

    In that Clinical Journal of Sport article you link to above , it describes how headgear might be detrimental to safety, in regards to brain injury:

    So even if some tests show that momentum transfer is reduced, the increased risk of rotating the head still makes headgear more dangerous in terms of loss of consciousness and brain injury.

    It goes on about increased confidence due to headgear, as well as an expected reduction in the risk of cuts as the lack of equipment changes boxing style over time:

    Finally, what is your reasoning behind headgear being detrimental to safety in one cohort, but not another? Why is it a good idea for youth competition but a bad idea for adult competition?
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  19. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    You will get no disagreement from me that any coach or instructor who does not have safety as their prime concern should not be teaching or running gyms.
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  20. Grond

    Grond Valued Member

    You got me pegged, this issue is something I have been following for years. I will write one big post and get it all out. :)
    I don't think anyone is lying as much as AIBA clearly wanted the headgear gone and so did the IOC, because competitors hate them. So to get the ban enacted it was just necessary to research competition outcomes and show a slight improvement over serious medical outcomes across a lot of fights. But that's not a representative sample of anywhere but in the ring.

    The NIH poll is from a peer-reviewed sports medicine journal, the methodology is open and the results are shown to be demographically representative, and that's where the NIH study and the AIBA study differ. And it's very possible given the backlash that if AIBA released their findings, it would support the conclusions of the Canadian study: the AIBA hasn't really gotten to the bottom of headgear safety outside of their narrowly scoped pilot study. They could easily add study data from female fighters that would change the outcome. Who knows. The AIBA research is private and limited to data on concussions and related outcomes in competition, and used to get rid of helmets competitors hate and that also appear to make officiating and medical intervention harder (the published conclusion of the AIBA research). There's really no data for women, youth, sparring, or even subconcussive hits, something the articles criticizing the AIBA decision all point out.

    The BJM study is published (but not free ) and it supports the AIBA study, but it is also focused on a small population (competition head trauma and fight stoppages). So there's really no good study on other groups or generally (women, youth, or even men outside competition other than the NIH study, which you can check the polling stats for in Table 1.

    The NIH opinion poll is scientific and published and aligns with the fallout in Australia and pretty much every country with a strong boxing community. The AIBA study details were/are mostly hidden away and many fighters and scientists (and a good representative sample of Canada) are concerned at the AIBAs direction. For instance the bans on headgear don't apply to women, why? Because AIBA apparently only studied male boxers! President Wu of the AIBA said they don't have much data on women, but the Canadian poll showed women are generally opposed to banning headgear, especially if they are parents. The dumb reason why female boxers have to wear headgear in Rio, but men don't
    The Olympics banned headgear for male boxers, but not women, stoking a debate on safety and sexism

    In Australia, this happened: Headgear ban sparks boxing chaos and I don't think it really ever stopped. Boxers everywhere seem to agree losing the headgear is good for the hardest impact competition, but still don't support banning headgear in general, because the AIBA study doesn't support the notion that wearing headgear is worse for you than not wearing it. What the AIBA study showed was that wearing headgear is worse for you when your opponent is throwing heavy blows in a full contact bout. Honestly, I'd rather never wear a helmet, but I would in training up to a certain contact level (which is all I might do nowadays anyway, so avoiding face cuts and swelling is a bigger worry for me than concussions, I'm simply not training at that level).

    But in the context of the thread, body conditioning and head strikes during training, headgear aren't detrimental to safety in a generalizable way, especially given younger or inexperienced crowds and the fact that so many head blows are subsconcussive. The Canadian study showed parents won't allow their kids to practice any form of boxing without headgear, so there you go. Parental rights trump secret AIBA science :D

    Good point, and this is the data that's missing from all the studies, whether headgear actually increases the risk of damage anywhere BUT in competition. Headgear is not designed to stop concussions, after all. A certain famous NFL CTE neurosurgeon pointed this out...but we won't see the NFL abandoning helmets anytime soon.

    The BJM and AIBA studies point to a correlation between lack of headgear and maybe, more effective officiating that then results in less damage over time, not a causative effect of wearing the headgear, which is an important delimiter. This is the same conclusion as the Canadian study posted at the NIH, and why there is (still) so much debate and opposition: many boxers, coaches, family, and fans don't believe the AIBA study is as generalizable as AIBA claims. It's an experience vs. narrowly scoped conclusions problem where the AIBA clearly wants headgear gone from competition (at least if you're a man).

    Honestly, the AIBA decision does make sense for boxing competition, where the (small) risk of concussion is probably made a bit smaller due to the officiating, according to the published BJM study (not free).

    First, from the Canadian study, there would be few youths permitted by their parents to take part in boxing at all, without headgear. So the science supporting getting rid of headgear has a big hurdle to overcome, especially if it's not published and 70% of just one country sampled says "no way". Either way, there needs to be a much better job done of figuring out whether the helmets are dangerous in general, or just at full contact competitions. It's possible such studies would conflict with each other. 1-2 studies for such an important issue. Removing headgear entirely could easily increase the number of injuries for a particular group.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018

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