A holistic approach to violence in Sweden

Martial artsStockholm has been swept by the storm of a new sport known as Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA. According to The Local, MMA is the ‘fastest growing sport in the world’ and it is definitely taking off in Sweden.

Not only are new MMA schools opening by the handful in Stockholm but those who operate schools say that their enrolment has increased dramatically recently. Public recognition of the sport is also increasing with organisations like Pride in Japan and the UFC in America helping lobby for the sport’s official sanctioning.

In Scandinavia, the governments have been much slower than the public in recognising and allowing MMA events. It is difficult to organize a boxing match in Norway, for example, let alone an MMA event.

Nevertheless, earlier in the month fighters from Ireland, England, Spain, Brazil and France fought against Swedish fighters at Fryshuset in Stockholm. Sweden’s Musse Hasselvall was pitched against Japanese fighter Takashi Hasegawa in a lightweight challenge.

“The drama of fighting is very simple overall,” Hasselvall confided. “With MMA you have the feeling that anything can happen. It can turn really, really fast. The first time people see MMA they think it’s really brutal but after they watch it closer they can appreciate the technique in it.”

Contrary to what one might imagine, the crowd in Stockholm was not baying for blood at the tournament. “I had a feeling that this crowd was quite educated,” said Hasselvall. “I mean people weren’t leaving for coffee half way through a fight like I’ve seen at other tournaments. There was a good mix of people and not a lot of brutes screaming for blood!”

Hasselvall’s colleague Owen Roddy, a fighter from Ireland, concurred. “The crowd here are great,” he said after his match in Stockholm, “very respectful, like how it is in Japan”.

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