Armchair Spectating: An Interested Observer’s View

by Alan Kandel

In case you haven’t already noticed, martial arts have appeal. Ever wonder why that is? I don’t think people give this a whole lot of thought primarily because it probably isn’t all that important as far as what people tend to think about. Even so, there is no denying martial-arts appeal is real.

The appeal is two-pronged. What I mean by this is there is participant (or practitioner) appeal and there is also spectator (or fan) appeal. Some invariably relish participating in addition to watching the action from the sidelines.

Unlike in most other sports, in competitive martial arts, participants are allowed to bash each other’s faces in – to a certain extent, that is. I mean where else is this even permitted? Of course, rules must be strictly adhered to otherwise things can get pretty ugly rather quickly without such. From some fans’ perspective, the more pounding taking place inside the ring or, in other words, the more of a beating one contestant takes, the better.

So, I must ask a question right here and right now: Would competitors still compete if:

1) there were no prize money attached (professional), and/or
2) there was no fan draw (be it on an amateur or professional level)? For that matter, I wonder if competitive sports would exist at all if not for the fans.

Did I answer my own question?

I believe I did.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe as humans we have an innate need to be entertained. So, building on that, as far as sports competitions go, what makes martial arts so appealing to so many is due to the entertainment value that martial arts possesses.  In fact, as far as competitive sports appeal goes, it ranks high on the interest scale. Is there is really anything else like it anywhere? Some diehard baseball, football, boxing, basketball, professional wrestling, etc. fans might disagree. No consensus? No problem. Having a favorite, having an opinion – it is part of what fandom is and that there is the name of the game.

So, as long as there is an audience to observe, competitive martial arts will go the distance. If there is ever a doubt, regardless of reason, always remember: Hand-in-hand go sports and fans.

Copyright Alan Kandel. September 18, 2012.