They do not understand that all of those deceased sportsmen were our friends in sport, our co-fighters and that we are all a part of a large community that loves and takes up martial arts. They find it unusual why certain professionals and someone who lives in Croatia asks about a deceased Japanese boy who was a judo fighter. They do not understand that, behind those statistics and statistical numbers are people. People with their life stories, their families, persons who had their wishes and ambitions, persons whose names should be remembered. Why? That evry person who had the courage to step into the ring or fighting pit and gave everything he had during the fight in order to win can understand another person who does the same thing. Those who wiped blood after the fight. Those who felt euphoria after winning. Those who tasted the bitter taste of defeat. Only they can truly understand the effort it takes and everything that that person has given, even his life. And this is why we shouldn’t forget. One of the better known researchers is Prof. Ryo Uchida who is a professor at Nagoya University in Japan. He published a statistical data that says that, in the last 30 years, 118 judo trainees have died and as many as 340 martial arts sportsmen stayed in coma.

However, there are persons’ names behind those numbers. A man such as an American kick boxer Dennis Munson Jr. who died while fighting in a ring in Milwaukee in 2014. In 2007, during sumo training, a 17-year old Japanese fighter Takashi Saito was beaten to death. Ten years later, in 2017, an 8-year old girl called Gazhal Yadav died during karate training in India. Their names are just a part of statistical data, as if we haven’t learnt anything from their examples although we had to. In 2023 in Brazil, a 23-year old trainee called Joao Victor Penna died during a boxing match. He died three days after he was knocked out. Penna fought for a prize of 18.50 dollars. These are all people, not just numbers. People from which we need to learn lessons in order to prevent future incidents. We need to learn from potential mistakes, and not just ask for a prohibition of certain martial arts sports. Those who seek such bans do not understand the motives or those young people who wanted to keep training martial arts and sports.

Certain ambitious politicians want to stress the importance of prohibition among their voters by saying how this will protect young people from harmful martial arts. We all know that prohibitions won’t change anything. Some religious leaders want to ban certain martial arts disciplines or sports because they find the influence of some Eastern religions or philosophies to be harmful, such as Buddhism, Zenism, Taoism, Shintoism, etc. They think that this could protect some religious beliefs or principles. None of the martial arts practitioners ever asks about one’s religious affiliation, but are strictly focused on martial arts skills and sports. Also, the symbiosis of religion and martial arts is well known. When a sports tragedy occurs and a sportsperson is deadly wounded during a fight, some sports journalists, sociologists, politicians, etc. want to point it out by talking about martial arts ban. But they really don’t know or don’t even care about the number of deaths that happen in other sports.

To ban- but which sport? Mountain climbing, judo, skiing, boxing, diving, karate, cycling, muay thai, windsurfing, MMA (UFC), horseback riding, jiu jitsu, motor races, tae kwon do- which sport should we ban? Those who wish to climb should climb; those who wish to dive should dive; those who want to sail should sail; who loves motor races should drive them, who wants to ski should ski. Whoever has the courage and ambition to take on martial arts should do that. Prohibitions never brought us anything good and they can be advocated only by those who do not understand that people have different personalities and affinities.

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