THE 10 CRAZIEST COMBAT SPORTS
In the aftermath of the Mayweather/Pacquiao “fight,” we’ve been thinking a lot about what kind of person is OK with stepping into a ring and trying to knock another person out. Combat sports are big business, but for every UFC event that makes millions there are dozens of smaller promotions trying to get themselves noticed. In this piece, we’ll spotlight ten that tried to push the envelope in some pretty weird ways.
If you prefer the clang of steel on steel to the thud of fists on flesh, M-1 Medieval might be for you. A spinoff of Russian cage fighting group M-1 Global, this new promotion kits fighters out in full suits of armor, puts swords in their hands and sets them at each other. M-1 first tried it out as filler between matches in 2014, and it got such a fan response that they set up a whole division for it. The first ranked fight took place on April 10, with Evgeiny Bedenko winning a 3-0 decision over Ivan Vasiliev. It’s likely that most matches will end in decision rather than knockout, but that’s probably for the best.
Not all combat sports involve pummeling your opponent into a bloody pulp. Take Combat Juggling, which manages to transform one of the world’s geekiest hobbies into something that’s almost badass. The rules are simple: each fighter has three objects, and they have to keep at least one in the air constantly using regular juggling throws. But they’re also allowed to use their bodies – and clubs – to interfere with other players. Teams of multiple jugglers face off, and matches can be chaotic and intense.
What could make mixed martial arts even more terrifying to old ladies and politicians? How about if the fighters were armed with tasers? That’s the idea behind Shockfights, which pits two men against each other in a no holds barred battle with tasers sewn into each glove. The organizers claim the shock devices can put out a painful 3,000,000 volts, which is plenty to cause intense pain in the struck area. Videos of the fights are terrifying, with the crackle of electricity punctuating the vicious blows being thrown.
Shin Kicking Championship
If you’ve ever been kicked in the shin, you know it hurts like hell. Lots of nerves, lots of bone, lots of pain. So why build a sporting event all around shin kicks? Ask the organizers of the Cotswold Olimpick, who countshin-kicking as one of their featured sports. Fighters grip each other by the collars of their shirts and throw wicked kicks at their lower legs trying to throw each other off balance. Participants are allowed to stuff their pants with straw to lessen the impact, but matches can still get pretty brutal. Each fight is a best of three, with rounds ending when one competitor hits the turf.
Most of these combat sports require fighters to train their whole bodies, but the Bavarian sport ofFingerhakeln boils it all down to just one finger. This insane arm-wrestling variant pits two men against each other with their fingers threaded into a strap. They can choose any finger, and many competitors pursue insane training regiments to whip their digit of choice into shape. Once they’re strapped, the goal is to pull the other man over the top of the table using just one finger. Needless to say, grisly injuries are common as knuckles get grotesquely pulled out of joint.
There’s certainly a cerebral element to boxing, but it doesn’t require the long-term strategy and patience of, say, chess. So why not put the two together? Chessboxing was invented in the pages of a French comic book and brought to the real world in 2003 by a Dutch performance artist. Each fight is eleven three-minute rounds – six of chess, five of boxing, alternating. The transition between the two is where the challenge lies – thinking clearly after taking punches for three minutes isn’t something just anybody can do.
When you bring weapons into the mix, the danger level goes through the roof. Dog Brothers is a school of stick-based martial arts that sees two men (thankfully wearing helmets) go at each other with the ferocity of their namesake. First practiced in California in the 1980s, the group actually reached out to the nascent UFC and asked if they’d be interesting in hosting Dog Brothers matches. The UFC declined, saying that it was too violent for them. Matches feature no judges, referees or true winners. Oh, and they don’t just use sticks – matches have featured nunchucks, shock knives and even lengths of steel chain.
Hip Show: Arena Combat
What happens when you meld the hard-hitting action of mixed martial arts with the unsteady terrain of American Ninja Warrior? You get another Russian entry into the bizarre world of combat sports called Hip Show: Arena Combat. This intense event takes two pairs of fighters and has them battle each other on an obstacle course of platforms, ropes and pyramids. Points are scored by submission, knockout or holding onto certain parts of the terrain “Capture The Flag” style. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s actually pretty fun to watch.
Arm wrestling counts as a combat sport, in its own way – it just has a very restrictive set of rules. X-Arm, which bills itself as “The Roughest 3 Minutes In Sports,” tosses some of those rules out the window. Yes, you’re still gripping your opponent’s hand tight in yours, with the goal of pinning it down to the table. But your other arm and your legs are free to do whatever they want – punch, kick and even choke your enemy. Combatants are harnessed to the table to keep things from getting too wild, but they get wild anyways.
We started this list off with two knights in armor fighting inside a cage, and we’re going to end it with the same concept, just on a much bigger scale. Battle Heritage bills itself as the UK’s premiere “Full Contact Medieval” club – it’s kind of like those live-action role playing geeks grew some balls and strapped on some steel. Fights take place in a number of different divisions, from simple one-on-ones to mass battles that pit five-man teams against each other in an orgy of swordplay. Yes, the edges are blunted, but they still hurt like hell. Matches are won when all of your opponents have at least three limbs touching the ground at once.