Wrestling is the school’s only offered combat sport, which only scratches the surface of the plethora. Boxing, tai chi and fencing, are just a few of the diverse athletics that fit under the umbrella of combat sports. People get into combat sports for a variety of reasons, such as self-defense or staying conditioned for other activities.
“I did a thing called Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which is a form of grappling, but it’s a little bit different from wrestling. I started wrestling because I wanted to get better at Brazilian jiu-jitsu,” said junior Michael Mulhurn (he/him).
Combat sports help athletes with other daily activities. Those who participate in other sports can join combat sports in order to further discipline themselves. Discipline can fit into people’s lives outside of their martial arts, whether it be for time management or productivity.
“A lot of people believe it’s a purely physical aspect, but there’s also a large mental aspect of wellness, just the mental ability of learning. In Taekwondo, we have these things called the tenets of taekwondo. We have courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and an indomitable spirit. And it’s kind of like the rules to abide by, like, ‘Okay, how do I implement this from my teachings to not negatively impact people around me and also make myself a better individual in society?’” said senior Sammy Otis (they/them).
Otis mentioned that there’s a stigma surrounding joining martial arts as an adult. Many believe that one can only master a martial art if they start at a young age.
“A lot of very skilled individuals also start later, and a lot of people take their talents from other sports like football, soccer, dance, and implement it into taekwondo and strengthen their body as a whole,” said Otis.
On another note, junior Nye Mabale (he/him) shared some insights on the truth about martial arts stunts in movies.
“It’s not always like the movies; that stuff is choreographed. Very different, but a lot of people think that it’s like, super scary getting into it,” says Mabale.
Moreover, junior and taekwondo martial artist, Evelyn Chow (she/her) debunks the idea that combat sports come with a risk factor larger than traditional contact sports. She states that is around the same as playing any other contact sport.
“Most of the injuries that I’ve seen are from sprains tearing a ligament or not stretching properly and maybe just twisting your ankle. That kind of stuff is more common,” said Chow.
Risks aside, the only in-school combat sport available is wrestling, which has a low participation rate. Many athletes agreed that they’d be interested in joining their sport if it was offered at school. However, there are no plans to start a club or district team at the moment. But athletes were in agreement that they would join if a school-organized event was established.
Colleges like the University of Washington, for example, don’t offer various martial arts or combat sports as school-funded sports but do offer them as clubs, which could be an option for Inglemoor if more people expressed interest.
With risks come injuries, which don’t occur as often as most people think. Those who were interviewed explained that most of their craziest stories happened during the beginning of their martial arts journeys.
“My coach paired me up with someone that wasn’t in my weight class. We were sparring. I kicked him in the face, I think I broke his tooth,” said Chow.
Otis also recalls a similar experience at age nine, accidentally injuring their instructor during a taekwondo lesson.
“I accidentally broke someone’s hand using nunchucks. He was showing me how to do different number technical movements, and one of them is to whip it in front of you really fast around your body and then bring it back. As I was about to do it, he reached out his hand to correct me and I whipped it down full power on his hand and shattered the bones in his hand,” explained Otis.
Despite accidental injuries, many athletes interviewed are still drawn to combat sports because of their many redeemable qualities. Interviewees’ favorite aspects all remained the same at the heart of a supportive community.
“It’s very competitive, but in a pretty fun way. And it’s definitely difficult. But the fact is that the team is a tight-knit team because we’re so small. So, the team is enjoyable enough that really hard experiences should just bring us closer together,” said Mulhurn.