Martial Arts

Is Martial Arts A Sport ? {Yes & No Breakdown}

This question is a bit too broad to be answered, some people argue that martial arts aren’t sports while others claim martial arts are sports, both of them are right and wrong at the same time. The reason is that different martial arts serve different purposes. Let’s dig deeper into the question so that we can understand what classifies as a sport and what doesn’t. By the end of this article you will understand why the question ‘is martial arts a sport ?’ can’t be answered, but by changing the question slightly we can come out with an answer for this question.

Is Martial Arts A Sport

What Is A Sport ?

To find out if martial arts are indeed a sport we need to know what falls under the term sports. By definition sports are something that requires physical activity, skills, and either an individual or team competing against another individual or team for a specific goal.

  1. I’m sure we can all agree that martial arts require physical activity. Martial arts clear the first point out of three to be considered a sport !
  2. We can say the same for skill each martial art style requires a great dedication to learn the necessary skills to be competitive.  Martial arts clear the second point out of three to be considered a sport !
  3. The third point is where it gets hard to answer, and can go both ways.  Not all martial arts clear the third point to be considered a sport.
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Why Martial Arts Is Too Broad Of A Term

The third point is why we can not debate whether martial arts are sports or not. MMA for example definitely falls under a sport it has the first two requirements to be a sport and plenty of competitions worldwide, not to mention UFC which is growing at an extremely fast-pace, with the possibility of MMA becoming an olympic sport by 2024 – 2028.

On the other hand we have martial arts like krav maga. Krav Maga basically follows the same concept as MMA, it’s a combination of various martial arts. Though unlike MMA, Krav Maga follows no rules it’s designed to be used by the army on the street, there would be no safe way to make a sport out of this art without watering down the style.

It’s important to note that for a martial art to be considered a sport the competition does not have to be a fight. For example in the karate kata WKF championship the participants don’t fight, instead they perform what is called a kata which is basically a pattern of techniques. Than they are judged on how well the team is in sync, how well the techniques are executed and many other factors.

Another factor that makes the question ‘Is Martial Arts A Sport ?’ even harder is the fact that not all dojo’s teach the same style the same way. I attended two dojos of BJJ, The sensei of one of the dojo taught us a more modern style of techniques takedowns, armlocks, headlocks, etc the stuff you see mma fighters use basically which is all good for BJJ competitions therefore classifying this style of BJJ as a sport.

The other dojo I used to attend had different perspectives, he definitely was against martial arts being called a sport for him turning a martial art into a sport required it to be watered down, I don’t necessary agree with him but I can understand where he’s coming from. The sensei taught us all the techniques the other dojo used to teach but also added a lot of small joint manipulation techniques, taught us how to utilise and fight with small objects so that if we were to find something in the street we could easily implement it to our advantage, shady techniques like eye pokes and groin kicks, etc these are considered to be illegal moves in BJJ competitions. The sensei was all about self defense, any technique that can be used to help you within a street fight to defend yourself he’s going to teach it to you regardless whether it is illegal or not in a competition environment. This style of BJJ martial arts would not be classified as a sport due to these techniques.

By now we can agree that it’s pointless to debate whether martial arts are sports or not, there are too many variables to consider.

How To Define If Your Martial Arts Is A Sport Or Strictly Self Defence

It’s rather simple to identify if your martial art is in fact a sport or not, are there any professional competitions that do not restrict your martial arts in any way. If the answer is yes your martial art is in fact a sport, if the answer is no your martial art is strictly for self defence and doesn’t classify as a sport. So that there are no misconceptions just because your martial art can be classified as a sport does not mean that that particular martial art is not effective in self defence, any style of martial arts can give you an advantage in a street fight. In fact just because a martial art can be classified as a sport does not mean it is inferior to non-sports martial arts while on the streets, certain non-sport martial arts are in reality inferior to sport martial arts in real life situations, not all martial arts are equal.


Well that was my rant about why I think you can’t say martial arts are sports or aren’t, do you guy agree with me ? feel free to argue and criticise my ideology on this subject in the comments section down below.

Sources :
All images have been taken from pixabay with a Creative Commons CC0 licence.

Is Martial Arts A Sport ? {Yes & No Breakdown}
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Is Martial Arts A Sport ? {Yes & No Breakdown}
Is Martial Arts A Sport ? Both Answers Are In Fact Correct & Wrong Depending The Martial Art {Find Out Which Martial Arts Classify As Sports}
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