Lasting Infrastructure Sees Bahamas Chosen to Host Pan-American Open Championships

IMMAF president Kerrith Brown referenced EMMAB’s ties to national sports authorities as a primary source for confidence in seeing the delivery of a successful continental open championships, after recently visiting the Bahamas National Sports Authority, pictured above (left) alongside Dr Kent L. Bazard (right), president of EMMAB.

Following confirmation of the IMMAF and WMMAA 2019 championships calendar last November, athlete registration for the first unified Pan American Open Championships was announced yesterday, February 19.

Hosted by national federation, Empire Mixed Martial Arts Bahamas (EMMAB), the tournament is scheduled to take place from 15 to 18 May 2019 in Nassau, at the Kendal G. L Isaacs National Gymnasium at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre.

National MMA Associations span the Americas under IMMAF and WMMAA recognition, including Brazil, Canada, USA, Mexico, Colombia, Jamaica, El Salvador, Paraguay, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago.

The Bahamas was selected as host nation for the Pan-American Open Championships, with years of infrastructure developed at the national level. EMMAB achieved recognition under IMMAF in mid 2016, three years after the national body’s official formation.

Led by president and Safety Officer Dr Kent L. Bazard, the organisation is registered with the Bahamas Ministry of Sports and is a member of both the Bahamas Wushu Sanda Association and the Bahamas Martial Arts Federation. Overseeing the national MMA collective, EMMAB has dispatched representatives to international martial arts competitions in addition to overseeing rules and regulations, certification of officials and sanctioning protocol for both professional and amateur competitions, all at the national level.

National teams from all IMMAF-WMMAA affiliated nations are welcomed to participate with 14 weight categories open to senior athletes, from Atomweight to Lightweight for women, and Strawweight to Super Heavyweight for men. Divisions will have a limit of 8 participants for each weight category. Gold, silver and 2 bronze medals will be available to win in each division, and competitors will earn ranking points for the IMMAF World Amateur MMA Rankings.

MMA American Championships

 

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Medical Committee Comments on Prohibition of Head Strikes in U18s MMA Competition

IMMAF -WMMAA this week published its first competition rules for under 18s, modified from the unified rules with respect to the stage of physiological and educational development of the various age groups. Most notable and most talked about has been IMMAF – WMMAA’s prohibition of head strikes for under 18s, which was recommended unanimously by the Medical Committee. Here two Medical Committee  representatives comment on the policy.

 
Dr. David Wang (USA) is a Sports Medicine physician with over 20 years of experience working with athletes including kick-boxers and MMA competitors.  He is Medical Director of a concussion clinic and his research includes concussions and the various ways they affect the athlete:

“With the rapid worldwide growth of MMA, it is imperative that governing organisations such as IMMAF continue to keep safety a priority. To that end, the IMMAF with the guidance of the medical safeguards committee, continues to assess athlete injuries, ensuring the sport is as safe as possible.

“Most recently the IMMAF has solidified rules for youth participation in MMA. One of the most noticeable rules is the protection of participants less than the age of 18 from intentional blows to the head. In recent years, it has been noted that the younger athletes who are neurologically immature are more likely to have increased vulnerability and longer recovery from concussion compared to their adult counterparts. These younger athletes may also be more sensitive to cumulative neurologic issues independent of concussion.

“These age related precautions have already been instituted in other sports with a noticeable improvement in concussions. Examples include avoidance of checking in ice hockey until the Bantam level and elimination of heading of the soccer ball in younger soccer players. Each organisation is working to minimise exposure in the younger age groups.

“There is still much to figure out with regard to this issue and it would not be surprising if these rules continue to change into the future. It is the goal in amateur MMA to use the younger years to refine techniques and training, ultimately leading to success in the sport. It is also understood that a more neurologically mature athlete can better tolerate the forces to the head that can occur during unrestricted participation. The IMMAF will continue to follow injuries associated with the sport and adjust the rules accordingly, all with the safety of the athlete being the primary goal.”
 

Commenting below, Professor Dan Healy (Ireland) is a consultant neurologist with clinical experience in sports medicine. He has had pro bono involvement with MMA since 2011, working with the Safe MMA project in Ireland:

“This decision is the first time any major contact sport has crossed the Rubicon and taken deliberate head strikes out of the equation for children and teenagers. Exposure to deliberate head trauma in sport should be a choice made consenting adults, not kids.

“I understand the criticisms, particularly in learning to defend the head and in preparedness for adult competition. But punching the brain is convincingly associated with underperformance in a child’s education, brain-speed and long-term neurodevelopment. The traditional model was partly negative-feedback.  A sloppy guard resulted in a box to the brain. I’m confident that IMMAF’s competition and coaching structures will reward children for good defense i.e. positive-feedback, will encourage attack, timing and athleticism and will develop champions of the future from the ground-game up. And these children will have faster brains. And faster brains make faster fighters.

“IMMAF has chosen not to ignore the science. I hope it will be a catalyst in other sports like boxing and kickboxing where full-contact head-shots are still the norm as early as 10 years of age.

“Time will tell, but this decision by IMMAF may have as big an impact as the Marquess of Queensberry rules did in 1867. It’s about creating champions, not child champions.”

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Founding IMMAF President August Wallén Responds to Members on Youth MMA Rules

IMMAF founder and now Honorary President, August Wallén, today issued this response to concerns raised by some members about the modification of amateur MMA rules for under 18s competition:

Although the overall response has been positive to the IMMAF – WMMAA board decision to prohibit head strikes in under 18s competition, we have received some criticism. I understand the concerns, but there are always many aspects to consider and weigh-up in making decisions of such seriousness. The doctors of our medical committee unanimously recommended against strikes to the head for minors. I am not a doctor, and if we have this recommendation, it is our responsibility to go with what the professionals say.

Our number one priority must be the health and safety of the kids under our jurisdiction! Also, if we were to go against medical recommendations and had a serious incident, how would that effect the sport? It would be devastating. Kids’ health is of the utmost importance.

Kids often recover very quickly from injuries, and it is easy to think this applies to all injuries. Indeed, this was what I myself thought. However, it is in fact the opposite for the brain, where injury during teenage years puts the participant at higher risk of permanent damage compared to an adult. I learnt this for the first time through participating in a professional boxing investigation in Sweden.

What we have built in Sweden to enable MMA competitions to take place under Swedish law is a competitor safety ladder. Competitors start with lower risk competitions and as they move up the ladder, with more experience, they increase the number of techniques permitted and length of rounds. This is a logical path, where kids are on the lowest rungs of the ladder, and as they grow older, stronger, bigger and better skilled, they move up.

This safety ladder takes a pyramid shape in terms of participation, as competitors decrease in number as you move up. In Sweden, there are a lot of competitors at amateur level, less at professional and then even less who compete at elite level under UFC rules, with the least restrictions.

In comparable sports, the largest participation is from kids and a huge number compete, but not as many into adulthood. MMA worldwide doesn’t currently look like this. It is largely an adult sport. This is probably because we haven’t so far been offering an option for minors, and in developing this area we will attract more people to participate and thus grow the sport. The potential for children’s participation in MMA is enormous.

August Wallén
Honorary President
IMMAF – WMMAA

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2019 IMMAF – WMMAA Pan American Open Championships

  • ATHLETE REGISTRATION OPENS TODAY!

Athlete registration opens today for the 2019 IMMAF- WMMAA Pan American Open Championships of amateur MMA.

Hosted by national federation, Empire Mixed Martial Arts Bahamas, the tournament is scheduled to take place from 15 to 18 May 2019 in Nassau, at the Kendal G. L Isaacs National Gymnasium at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre.

Amateur MMA competitors from all IMMAF-WMMAA affiliated nations are welcomed to participate across 14 weight categories, from Atomweight to Lightweight for women, and Strawweight to Super Heavyweight for men. There is a limit of 8 participants for each weight category. Gold, silver and 2 bronze medals will be available to win in each division, and competitors will earn ranking points for the IMMAF World Amateur MMA Rankings.

IMMAF President, Kerrith Brown, said:

“We are looking to a Pan American Championships in the Caribbean to boost engagement and sport development across the region, by offering a local platform in this talent rich continent. Athletes from the United States, Canada and both Central and South America have a record of exceptional achievement under the IMMAF- WMMAA banner, and our Coaches and Talent Development Scheme has enjoyed a successful launch in Pan American countries.

“With the support of its national sport authorities, the Bahamas has the infrastructure to deliver a great event, as well as providing a central and beautiful location for those travelling across the continent. We equally encourage athletes from further afield to make the journey, as successes in all IMMAF – WMMAA tournaments will earn an athlete ranking points in the World Amateur MMA Rankings.”

To apply athletes must contact their National MMA Federation.
See Amateur eligibility criteria here: http://www.immaf.org/competitor-eligibility/
See IMMAF Amateur MMA Rules here: http://www.immaf.org/about/competition-rules/

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MMA Enters the Classroom in Northern Ireland as A-Level Qualification

By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran

Mixed Martial Arts can now be taken as an official sports qualification for sixth form students at Mercy College in Belfast.

Mercy College welcomed the launch of a full time A-Level sports programme leading to higher education, with MMA at its core.

“Sixth form” refers to an additional 1-3 years of secondary school, in which GCSE graduates typically aged between 16-18 complete A-Level examinations to gain university access.

The development was spearheaded by Danny Corr, Director of the Ulster Amateur MMA Association (UAMMAA), in collaboration with LLS, an organisation dedicated to providing secondary school leavers with qualifications to become future sports industry leaders.

Sixth form education is the latest example of MMA’s flourishing integration with the youth and culture of Northern Ireland, which in the past four years has evolved to include government, council and Comic Relief funding provided for MMA youth programmes and paid youth workers with the Northern Ireland Youth Forum.

The Ulster Amateur MMA Association concluded research of pilot programme “Fight to Unite” in 2016, discovering incredible feedback and results on the impact of local youth work through MMA in relation to ongoing issues among young people. In June of 2018 the Belfast City Council backed the funding of an MMA Centre of Excellence.

Across the globe, MMA continues to find its way into education with a number of international universities introducing MMA in nations such as the UK, Lebanon and Bahrain.

From June 16-22, Belfast and the UAMMAA are set to host the IMMAF – WMMAA European Open Championships and Junior European Open Championships.

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