Top 10 Most Dangerous Combat Sports To Try And Challenge Yourself

Tags: #Escrima ,   #MMA ,   #MuayThai ,   #Combat ,   #Fighting

Dan N. Scarborough

Dan N. Scarborough

Last updated:  2022-07-05 18:03:13

Since the beginning of humankind, combat has been an unavoidable part of life. We fought for food, then we fought for resources, then for territory. In a sense, Earth is one perpetual battlefield. Unfortunately, there are bloody conflicts everywhere, based on political, religious, or territorial disputes. Violence is engraved in our genetics, and to sate our bloodlust, we invented combat sports. Otherwise, it would be hard to explain that we watch people hurting each other for fun. Below are top ten most extreme combat sports, more dangerous than boxing. So, let's see how far our inane brutality could take us.

10. Catch Wrestling

Feel the collision with the planet

For those with cheaper seats, catch wrestling is a hybrid martial art that combines wrestling, judo, and jiu-jitsu. Here, you earn points for both pins and submissions. Still, the focus is on the powerful wrestling techniques rather than the softer approach of judo and jiu-jitsu. 

What makes catch wrestling unique are the victory conditions. While most combat sports have a single-win rule, catch wrestling uses the best of three. Therefore, individual triumphs are referred to as downs. Those rules basically make competitors have two or three submission matches in a row. Although catch wrestlers are safe from striking damage, many throws and submissions are hazardous if not applied properly. Add the three-point rule to that, and you get the idea of why this sport is included among dangerous ones. 

9. Sambo

The most complex martial art in the world

Sambo is much more than a combat sport. This discipline has various military, sport, self-defense, freestyle, and specialized styles. Each of them has separate training systems, making Sambo one of the most complex martial arts in the world. It's also the Russian official fighting system, and basically, everyone practices it, from military and policemen to athletes and residents. 

Sambo was founded in the early 20th century by several martial arts masters. They combined all the valuable elements of various martial arts and formed one coherent self-defense system. Sambo practitioners wear headgear and gloves, so they are more protected than some other combatants on this list. Nevertheless, the sheer number of ways you can get hurt in Sambo puts it in the ranks of dangerous. 

8. Muay Thai

The art of eight limbs is insanely popular

Muay Thai is one of the most famous brutal martial arts. This highly aggressive form of kickboxing originated in Thailand, evolving from the traditional military-style Muay Boran. After the wars with neighboring countries stopped, Thai people developed their military-style into a combat sport, still the most popular one in Thailand. 

In addition to usual kickboxing techniques, Muay Thai allows elbows and knees. Also, it emphasizes aggressive clinch to strike in the pocket or throw opponents. Elbows and knees make the South-Eastern Asian forms of kickboxing particularly brutal. There are many similar styles around neighboring countries, but Muay Thai is the most recognizable. 

7. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) 

Hybrid martial art that includes everything

As the name says, MMA is competition between practitioners of various fighting styles, with little to no rules. To imagine the extremeness of mixed martial arts, try to combine the striking aspect of Muay Thai with catch wrestling. That means MMA unifies the risks of both! Furthermore, there's no pinning in MMA. The only two ways to win are judge stoppage or making your opponent tap out. 

Submission holds are very dangerous and painful, so fighters should be cautious doing them. However, a more common way of finishing the fight is "ground and pound." That's the name for taking your opponents to the floor and striking them with punches and elbows. Very few techniques aren't allowed in MMA, such as soccer kicks, stomping downed opponents, groin strikes, eye-gouging, biting, hair pulling, and other dirty tactics.  

6. Historical Medieval Battle 

Revive the medieval battles in all their glory

Despite having "medieval" in its name, historical medieval battle, or HMB, is a modern combat sport. The purpose of HMB is to recreate medieval knight combat for a modern audience. The competitors are wearing armor and using steel weapons (fortunately blunt), so they could authentically simulate medieval combat without killing each other. 

It would seem that armor would nullify all the damage taken, but that's not entirely true. Heavy blunt weapons like maces or axes can give quite a concussion even over the armor. On the other hand, the elimination rules are quite merciful. Basically, you're out when you hit the ground. Teams are fighting each other until the last man is standing, with crews usually having five to 21 combatants. There are also one-on-one duels, which are significantly less brutal but still pretty rough.

5. Bare-knuckle Boxing 

Who needs cognitive brain function?

Due to its brutality and horrible damage inflicted on the fighters, bare-knuckle boxing has been banned since 1889. Yet, this form of combat recently resurfaced in a modern version of brutal pugilism. There are rules now, such as weight categories, rounds, and various protective measures. However, the fights are still as brutal as they were. 

The most significant danger of bare-knuckle boxing is the whole array of various ways the fighters could get hurt. The immediate dangers are skull fractures, broken ribs, damaged eyes, and fractured hands. The latter is one of the most common boxing injuries, and it is even more probable if there are no boxing gloves. Therefore, the fights are quick, explosive, and violent. Nevertheless, the biggest danger for the boxers is cumulative brain damage, which could cause severe health problems. 

4. Medieval MMA 

Modern MMA in a medieval suit

Another hybrid combat sport on this list, Medieval MMA, is, put simply, HMB with MMA rules. Combatants are fitted with medieval equipment, similar to the one in HMB. Furthermore, the fight rules are comparable to one-on-one Historical Medieval Battles. However, there is one drastic difference; Knockdown doesn't mean the end of the fight. To win in a Medieval MMA match, you need to knock out or submit your opponent using weapons instead of bare hands. 

Can you imagine the amount of damage required to knock out a completely armored opponent? Hence, the brutality of these fights is unprecedented! Medieval MMA fights were created as a sideshow between preliminary and main cards in M-1 MMA events. However, fans received it so well that now there are events entirely dedicated to these fights.

3. Calcio Storico

What if rugby didn't have fouls?

The origins of Calcio Storico go back to the Roman Republic. During that time, Roman legionaries played the game called harpastum to stay fit for the battle. Calcio Storico evolved from that into allegedly the most violent sport globally. Imagine American football or rugby but with full-contact rules. Although it's not a combat sport by itself, Calcio Storico employs a lot of martial arts. 

In fact, it's way less safe than any other martial art. There's no protection of any kind, and there are very few rules. Attacking from behind is forbidden, and gaining up or hitting the downed opponent. These two factors are the main reason there is a 50% risk of injury. As if that wasn't enough to drive you away, there's no money in this game. All participants are playing it for the love of the good old violence.  

2. Escrima

Sticks and stones can break your bones, after all

Escrima is one of the Filipino martial arts with weapons as a specialty. It is also known as Kali or Arnis, although people argue those are different aspects of the art. Indeed, they all fall into Filipino martial arts, and it's not a big mistake to mix them. Colonial Spaniards experienced Escrima first-hand when Filipinos killed Fernando Magellan and most of his crew. As a result, Escrima was banned for more than 300 years. 

Today, Escrima is practiced with a slew of weapons, including guns. Competition-wise, there are tournaments in which combatants use single or double sticks. Professionally sanctioned matches have combatants fully armored, but the vast majority of the fights are unprotected, save from hands. Those matches are unsanctioned and extremely dangerous. There are a lot of small organizations for unarmored Escrima. Still, they are not connected well enough to form a more significant league competition.    

1. Lethwei 

Use your head in combat in a literal way

Although we already have Southeast Asian martial arts in this list, Lethwei is worth including because it's the most brutal combat sport in the world. There are several reasons for that. First, Lethwei is a bare-knuckle discipline; just the wrists are wrapped. Then, like Muay Thai boasts being "the art of eight limbs," Lethwei is "the art of nine limbs." Except for hands, feet, elbows, and knees, Lethwei also uses the head as a weapon. 

However, the most brutal aspect of Lethwei is the knockout rule. When a Lethwei fighter is knocked out, the fight isn't over. Instead, the team drags the unconscious fighter back to his corner and brings him back to his senses, hopefully not using some horrible drinks. Then, he's offered to continue to fight. The duel is over once a fighter refuses to continue or when time runs out. In the latter case, the competitor with more given knockouts wins. Thus, this is by far the most brutal ruleset in any combat sport, a very obscure one! We have no idea how anyone could survive a single duel, let alone be a champion!

Since the dawn of civilization, people have been fascinated with creative ways to hurt each other. After the modernization of weapons, hand-to-hand combat skills were honed for the sake of the competition. As far as gladiators, people enjoyed seeing violence and brutal scenes, which didn't fade away to this day. 

Which of these crazy top ten list sports seems most appealing to you? What sports would you add to the list?


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