It is an old belief that martial arts practicing brings a high risk of injuries. Many Chinese, but also foreign historians brought out a fact that many monks who travelled to the Shaolin Temple stayed there for life because, according to a legend, they couldn’t pass the labyrinth that was the final test. Also, according to some historical tales, it is believed that many Japanese martial arts trainers would say their goodbyes with their families before leaving for practice. They did that because they simply weren’t sure that they would come back alive after a certain martial arts practice (e.g. kendo, ken jitsu, jiu jitsu, and later on karate and judo). So, martial arts practice was associated with many injuries and even death since those times. Because of that, it is still believed that practicing certain martial arts is extremely dangerous.

Although some world organizations don’t want to publicly speak about the number of severely injured or deceased sportsmen, many instructors, trainers, trainees and martial arts master’s don’t negate this fact, but they actually speak about it publicly. Consequently, the media publishes data of those sportsmen who died after being severely injured during a martial arts fight. Oftentimes, after such public announcements, those who would prohibit or ban that martial arts sport publicly criticize it and give their comments. According to them, such sports are too dangerous, too harsh and, because of their cruelty, they cannot be compared to today’s other more “humane” and “modern” sports. Of course, they are wrong. It is obvious that they are either not informed and educated enough or they are purposely giving out incomplete and untruthful information.

In their opinion, injuries that are life-threatening happen only in certain martial arts, whereas they never happen in other sports or are extremely rare. But is this truly so? Many people who are in favor of certain martial arts prohibition take on skiing, cycling, horseback riding, sailing, hiking, or even mountain climbing. It is odd that they are forgetting the fact that thousands of mountain climbers died on the hills of some of the most famous mountain peaks. Their bodies are still located on some of those hills. Also, many haven’t returned thanks to frostbite. However, you never heard that anyone would like to ban mountain climbing, which is the case with martial arts.

Why haven’t they asked how many sportsmen were killed during car or motor races? How many people died in cycling or horseback riding races? How many sportsmen died in numerous winter sports (e.g. skiing, sledging, bob races, etc.)? How many of them have died while diving, sailing or windsurfing? Have they ever heard of paragliding? What happens in other dangerous sports? Many of them which were previously considered extreme sports are now included in the Olympic Games and no one’s even thinks about banning them. If that is the case, why to some sports journalists often speak about banning certain martial arts? Why wouldn’t this be the case with other “dangerous” sports?

We certainly shouldn’t hide the information about fatal injuries that were caused by training or sports fights in certain martial arts. Deadly injuries in martial arts exist and they should be talked about but banning a martial art because of that is not the solution. Moreover, which martial arts should specifically be banned? Because if we start banning the question is when will they be stopped? Those who would ban boxing, judo, muay thai, MMA (UFC) today will probably want to ban karate, tae kwon do, kung fu, jiu jitsu, kick boxing, or even thai chi tomorrow. All because they are, allegedly, dangerous sports. We also must point out the fact that the martial arts community very rarely talks about deadly injuries or trainees that were fatally-wounded. Many consider this to be “tabu” about which they simply do not wish to comment on or purposely avoid it. This is why everyone heard about famous martial arts master’s simply because everyone is always talking about them. However, only the families and friends remember those that have perished, and they talk of and remember them.

Still, there are those martial arts experts (certain instructors, masters, trainers, sports journalists, etc.) who “research” such cases. They write down those cases of fatally wounded sportsmen, ask about them and keep records, i.e. statistical data about them as well as the persons that trained and were killed during training, and other details. According to some statistical data from 1890 to 2007, 923 boxers were killed. According to some data from 1725 until today, as many as 2036 boxers died after severe-deadly injuries that they received in the ring. One of the researchers, statisticians and martial arts fan was the American Chinese boxing master Robert W. Smith who handed his data in a form of a document to all interested sports journalists and martial arts experts in 1994. There were also those who commented on that data with the words “Why does a Chinese boxing master collect data and keep record about fatally wounded boxers? What are his motives?”

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