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Why different weight divisions in martial arts?

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:03 pm
by aspara-gus
Almost every sport has a body weight or height that is advantageous. Why is that almost all martial arts, including boxing and wrestling insist on splitting it up in divisions so that "everyone can have a chance to win"? There is no 6 feet and shorter NBA, and no 200 pounds and over horse back riding so why is there feather weight boxing? I actually loved the early UFC contests where there were no weight divisions and one of the lightest guys kept winning. It's a shame they changed this.

Re: Why different weight divisions in martial arts?

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:08 pm
by blinki
I think it makes sense where strength or weight or height or whatever is a big advantage but for some reason that doesn't seem to always match up to what really happens. I'd guess what really happens is pretty caught up in the development of the sport and not significantly changed in quite a long time. Though UFC less obviously so but I think what happened there was around making it legal in all US states requiring weight categories (I'm not sure why I think that so I could have made it up).

I think with martial arts it depends on the sort for what makes sense. I did tae kwon do as a kid and it was height categories for under 16s and that made sense because longer legs were a big advantage. But the adults were by weight and while they do hit each other fairly hard being able to hit hard doesn't really matter and you don't take a beating like you do in boxing. I'd rather fight someone 20kg heavier than a foot taller but I suspect if I did judo I'd say the opposite.

I think there should be basketball for short people too, I loved it as a kid but then it got pretty pointless when everyone else got a lot taller than me

Re: Why different weight divisions in martial arts?

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:11 pm
by ninearms
Weight divisions don't give everyone a chance to win. Weight divisions actually make it harder to win (and as a result make the sport more interesting to watch) because competition is closer.

Plus, when a sport has so many competitors it simply cannot function without some form of classification of its competitors, whether it by by bodyweight as in combat and strength sports, by (amongst other things) financial status, facilities, and previous performance history as in football, or by physical impairment as in paralympic sport. How on earth would you run a major championships without divisions? You also have to consider the sport outside of the professional level. Is a 13 year old kid weighing 45kg seriously supposed to compete against a kid of the same age weighing 90kg?

If the UFC ditched weight classes now little guys would be getting pummelled left right and centre. The sport has moved on, in the same way that World's Strongest Man winners from 20 years ago wouldn't even make it past the qualifiers now. It's big business with full-time professional sponsored athletes and a much greater depth of field.

Re: Why different weight divisions in martial arts?

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:13 pm
by ninearms
[quote="blinki"]I'd rather fight someone 20kg heavier than a foot taller but I suspect if I did judo I'd say the opposite.


It's weight classes that stop you having to fight someone a foot taller AND 20kg heavier...

Re: Why different weight divisions in martial arts?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:41 am
by Bai
It's also to protect the fighters from sustaining a few more injuries than what you are already opening yourself up for, I know when I spar someone who is 20kg heavier than me, you can feel a massive difference in power even if you are both going at 40% of your output. Even Checking kicks can end in unnecessary injury.

Although I don't mind clinching with inexperienced heavier people, its fun to throw and knee those who don't know how to use their weight ;)

Agree with ninearms. Nothing harder than fighting someone who has the same range and weight as you! Makes for a more interesting match.

Re: Why different weight divisions in martial arts?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:43 am
by Bai
Although when I was training in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the weight classes didn't seem to matter there in the local stadiums. I saw Thai's fight westerners 30kg heavier than them in order to pad their records to get to Bangkok. I had a match that fell through against a girl 10kg lighter than me, and that seems huge when I usually fight at 60-62kgs.