Sunday, 30 September 2012

FILA and the future of MMA

Three of the most popular Combat Sports throughout GB are Sombo,  Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), yet out of the three only one of them has a governing body that is recognised by UKSport and has an International Body recognised by Sport Accord and that is the British Sombo Federation. This I believe will be changing in the very near future as the very well respected F.I.L.A has included the other two on their list of Wrestling Sports which they call Amateur MMA and Grappling.

F.I.L.A has been responsible for Free Style and Greco Roman since the Olympics began so they are the obvious choice for running these sports. It is important that we put some legitimisation into MMA as there are so many unqualified, inexperience clubs teaching these Combat Skills. I recently heard of a karate Club whose numbers had been dwindling changing their name to an MMA club and their membership quadrupled. When they were questioned they said they had mixed several Karate Styles together, hence MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). Although those in the know realise that is not what MMA is, the public do not.

I have strong doubts that you would be able to register MMA Mixed Martial Arts as a “Service Mark” because of the nature of the name Mixed Martial Arts which can mean anything and is not specific. Maybe MMA could have been registered but now because it has been widely used I doubt it. When I registered “CombatSombo” a Grappling Self Defence System in 1988 as a service mark no one had used a combination of the name in any other form. Since then the International body has come up with a very successful Full Contact Jacket Strike and Grapple called Combat Sambo. In some countries many use the same words for a self-defence system. The main advantage of registering COMBATSOMBO is I have total control of the name in this country and only grading certificates with my signature or my authorisation can justify you saying you do COMBATSOMBO. Sadly at the time I did not get it registered worldwide, however, because everyone knows that CombatSombo is my style, they can still check to see if the Coach is registered with me.

A Couple of years ago I was invited along with others to a meeting with the British Wrestling Association at the Wrestling Academy in Salford to discuss MMA and they came up with two very useful and unique names. For MMA Grappling and Submission Wrestling with or without Jackets they would use the name FILA Grappling, for MMA strike and grapple they would use the words FILA Combat. These two names are easily defined and can be easily regulated and I believe this is the way forward. I for one have no objections affiliating to the BWA, in fact our Warriors Grappling Academy is a member.
Those who enjoy true MMA need to break away from the name because the name is slowly become ridiculed.

Amateur Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a full contact combat sport that incorporates striking (both standing and on the ground) and wrestling/grappling techniques. As governed by FILA, it is practiced within a safe and regulated environment, which relies on a fair and objective scoring system and competition procedures similar to those in force in Olympic wrestling.

Despite its tremendous popularity, MMA is facing various legitimacy issues due to the lack of sanctioning by the national sports authorities and the lack of universal rules that would protect the athletes' physical and psychological integrity. FILA considers that the implementation of an amateur variant that could guarantee a safe training environment and a competition systems complying with the Olympic standards has become an urgent necessity for all athletes wishing to engage in a professional career. Through the mandatory use of protection gear and limited impact rules (especially regarding ground and pound), FILA intends to offer a safe and educational sport that can satisfy athletes with both recreational and professional goals. 

With its combination of stand up and ground techniques, amateur MMA represents a great form of self-defines, which is particularly recommended for the training of police, security, and military forces. Amateur MMA is practiced with board shorts and an optional rashguard along with approved protection gear that includes head gear, shin protectors, and gloves that allow grabbing and holding the opponent for a comfortable application of grappling techniques.

Amateur MMA counts 7 weight categories for men and 5 weight categories for women. No absolute category is considered in order to avoid potentially harmful situations.  

·       Men: 60-65-70-75-80-90-110kg 
·       Women: 50-55-60-65-75kg  

Licence and insurance: The FILA licence is mandatory for all international amateur MMA competitions with more than two participating countries. Every international competition shall be announced to FILA and added to its official calendar. The FILA insurance will only apply to competitions which appear in its calendar. The FILA licence allows its holder to take part in all wrestling styles ruled by FILA.

For more information on Sambo visit: Contact Martin Clarke at


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