Mixed martial arts (MMA)—unarmed fighting games permitting techniques derived from a variety of martial arts and combat sports— has exploded from the fringes of sport into a worldwide phenomenon, a sport as controversial as it is compelling. This is the first book to pay MMA the serious philosophical attention it deserves.
With contributions from leading international scholars of the philosophy of sport and martial arts, the book explores topics such as whether MMA qualifies as a martial art, the differences between MMA and the traditional martial arts, the aesthetic dimensions of MMA, the limits of consent and choice in MMA and whether MMA can promote moral virtues. It also explores cutting-edge practical and ethical topics, including the role of gender in MMA, and the question of whether trans athletes should be allowed to compete in the women’s divisions.
The contributors to this anthology take down, ground and pound, and submit many essential questions about this fascinating recent development in the culture of sport and spectacle. This is important reading for anybody with an interest in combat sports, martial arts, or the philosophy, sociology, culture or history of sport.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Weighing In
Jason Holt and Marc Ramsay
1. Mixed Martial Arts is Not a Martial Art
Irena Martínková and Jim Parry
2. On the Martial Arts Status of Mixed Martial Arts: ‘There are no rules’
Nicholas R. Baima and Sarah Malanowski
3. Loyalty, Deference, and Exploitation in Traditional and Mixed Martial Arts
Audrey Yap and Chris Goto-Jones
4. Violence and Constraints in Combat Sport
Joseph D. Lewandowski
5. Experimentation, Distributed Cognition, and Flow: A Scientific Lens on Mixed Martial Arts
Zachary Agoff, Benjamin Gwerder, and Vadim Keyser
6: A Utility-based Aesthetic for MMA: Finding Beauty in the Cage
7. An Aesthetic Apology for MMA
8. The Line of Permissibility: Gladiators, Boxers, and MMA Fighters
9. Friendship as a Moral Defense of Mixed Martial Arts
10. MMA as a Path to Stoic Virtue
11. Ethics of Mixed Martial Arts
Walter Veit and Heather Browning
12. Gender, Pain, and Risk in Women’s Mixed Martial Arts
13. Gender and Ethics: Thoughts on the Case of Transgender Athlete Fallon Fox
Jason Holt is Professor of Kinesiology at Acadia University, Canada, and author of Kinetic Beauty: The Philosophical Aesthetics of Sport (2020).
Marc Ramsay is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Acadia University, Canada.