|[Photo of the writer, watching an MMA match hosted by Double G Tournament.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Kim]
I love sports, period. Basketball, soccer, swim, track, I’ve tried them all. I have always been on the varsity team, striving to improve my understanding of sports and push past my limitations. Yet, despite my experience in many different sports, my first reaction to this particular sport was: “How is this a sport?” It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. This sport was Mixed Martial Arts(MMA). Boxing, kickboxing, jujitsu, taekwondo, and other martial arts all mixed into a single sport, and my first reaction gave way to awe at its simple complexity. While I had seen highlight reels of MMA matches on the news, this was my first time seeing a live match. While social distancing had thinned out the crowd, the passion showcased by the athletes filled the empty spaces in the KBS Arena.
Each player entering the ring had determination and tension etched onto their faces. Some stared down their opponents before the match, while others avoided eye-contact from the start of the match to the end. But all matches ended the same way, with a winner and a loser. After the match, the winner would encourage the loser, and the loser would congratulate the winner, showing that sportsmanship was alive even in the roughest sports. The final match of the day was between team Korean Zombie Gym and Team MAD. The name “Korean Zombie Gym” comes from the nickname of coach Chan Sung Jung, the famous UFC(Ultimate Fighting Championship) athlete. As the coach of Team MAD, Donghyun Kim, is a close friend of the “Korean Zombie,” the match could only be heated.
|[Photo of the writer leaving the stadium, KBS ARENA. Photo courtesy of Kevin Kim]|
The competition that I watched was called “Double G.” Although MMA competitions in Korea are not mainstream, surprisingly there are many other competitions besides Double G such as “Road to FC”, “Gleamon FC”, and “ZFC(Zeus Fighting Championship)” that lead the Korean MMA. The fact that MMA competitions are continuously held shows that there is definitely a consumer market for MMA. However, I was also worried that because of the increasing number of competitions that remain relatively unknown, there will be a red ocean (crowded market where companies compete intensely for greater market share) of indistinguishable events. Will this environment really be able to properly reward players for their efforts? As I left the KBS Arena, I was worried for the future of MMA in Korea.
|[Photo of the event 'DOUBLE G Championship.' Photo courtesy of Myungjae Han]|
When a match finishes, the winner gets the spotlight and readily, albeit a little tiredly, agrees to an interview. The family, friends, and fans watching the winner get perhaps a little emotional. But the losers leave the ring and trudge along the darkened passageway to the locker room. I have also experienced losses in my time playing different sports, and it is not fun. In MMA, both players give their best, but sports does not reward solely on effort. Sports focus only on the result, not the process. Therefore, the prize must be at least monetarily sufficient to compensate these players. For this, Korean MMA competitions need more popularity and exposure so new rookies can be found and talents improved upon. I too will do my best to cheer on the players and spread the word about Double G and the Korean MMA.
Year 11 (Grade 10 in the U.S.)
The Kellett School (HK)
Myungjae Han firstname.lastname@example.org