A while back we posted on whether headgear actually protected the fighter (see Does headgear protect your noggin?). To quote myself:
I don't believe that headgear does much to prevent damage to the brain. For the following reasons:How-to-Box has a nice post addressing the same topic.
Is there any benefit to headgear? Sure. I love it because I train on hard surfaces (floors or pavement) or uneven (grass), and I hate worrying about whether I'm going to smack my skull on something sharp or hard when I go down, even accidentally. Headgear is great to prevent that. Headgear also protects against cuts and abrasions to the skin. That's important when training for a fight because a cut could mean a postponement of cancellation of a bout. For most of us, a little cut just makes us look tougher on Monday when we go back to our geeky jobs.
- A blow to the headgear still does to prevent the rapid acceleration of the brain inside the skull, and nothing to prevent the inevitable impact of the brain, possibly resulting in a concussion.
- Boxing-style headgear, to me, is more of a liability to the user because it ALWAY reduces peripheral vision. That results in more blows taken to the same head. Unintended consequence, to be sure, but a serious one. KOs happen all the time in amateur boxing, don't they?
To be sure there's slight reduction in the impact of a blow. I'd much rather take a Thai kick or overhand right to the headgear than my skull, but if I wear headgear I may never see it coming.
The argument against headgear is that it doesn't protect against knockouts, only cuts and scrapes. While true, the amateur powers that be have made it pretty clear that isn't going to happen anytime soon.What stands out for me is that this is correct, the refs are the ones that protect the fighters, and prevent the injuries. In pro boxing, I’ve seen fighters sustain near-knockout shots for round after round, (sometimes multiple times a round!), and yet fights aren’t stopped because the recipient of those blows is both upright and fighting back. Yet, as any good fight fan knows, a fighter’s instinct, especially a veteran, is to show nothing to the crowd or referee that would indicate he’s hurt, and many have said later that they didn’t know what happened after round X, in other words they were fighting on instinct after a concussion.
There is a perception that headgear prevents brain injuries. While not necessarily true, the perception is beneficial in helping parents get over the initial shock of young jimmy or suzie coming home and saying they want to start boxing. The perception is that headgear somehow makes it safer. In reality it's the rules and attention to safety amateur refs enforce. [Emphasis mine - TDA]
MMA, in contrast, seems to me to be safer because of the quick action by referees when a fighter is stunned, whether on the ground or standing. This can lead to controversy, but, overall, it looks less damaging by stopping the action quickly. The addition of submission stoppages (in comparison to striking sports like boxing or kickboxing) also means that fights can stop sooner with less damage?
What say you?
For more information:
Striking Thoughts Head shots and tradition
TDA Headgear or mouthpieces
TDA Does headgear protect your noggin?
Boxing Damages Brain Despite Headgear Protection
EFFECTIVENESS OF BOXING HEADGEAR FOR LIMITING INJURY (PDF)
TDA Stop hitting me so hard!
TDA Head Butts - use 'em or not?
TDA Hand Protection, What is the Cost?
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