More on the CNMMAF “Tryouts” – Testing Shades of Grey in Canada’s Criminal Code

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Update – February 28, 2014 – the CNMMAF has now released the details of the format which, while may not be a good measure of who the best MMA competitors are, seems to take care in trying to avoid being labeled a ‘prize fight‘ under the Criminal Code.  Here are the details of the tryouts:

CNMMAF AMMA Try Outs Format

Please be advised of the guidelines for the Try Outs.

1) Host facility will select a panel of top assessment coaches from the following area’s.

  Strength and Conditioning Coaches

 Striking Coaches (Boxing/Muay Thai/MMA… etc)

 Grappling Coaches (wrestling/judo/jiu jitsu…etc)

* also a selection of judges, referees, officials (can assist in the screening and selection process, as they are extremely valuable)

This decision is up to the Host Group. Each group eg: Strength & Conditioning Coaches (will select a captain from their own group..this is up to the coaches in each group to elect one) The captain will instruct the coaches on the format of the conditioning exercises that will be scored.

This will consist of a minimum of 10 exercises that will test their over all conditioning and strength. We will forward examples of exercises (but I am fully confident that the Strength Coaches can come up with them) All exercise’s will be the same duration for everyone tested (depending on the number of participants…there might be numerous testing groups in one day)

Striking Coaches will do the same as above (select a captain). All participants will demonstrate their striking skills (pad holding, bag striking,shadow boxing, etc.) Coaches will have them demonstrate offensive and defensive maneuvers …. much like a testing for a belt in martial arts.

Grappling Coaches will do the same (select a captain) All participants will demonstrate their grappling skills (rolling with each other…as well as be tested by the coaches for their knowledge of techniques) the duration of rounds can be 3 or 5 minute rolls.

This procedure is not a complicated one (this is similar to what the UFC uses in it’s Ultimate Fighter Show) all that is required is a fair selection and equal testing criteria for everyone. Whatever techniques are selected, or exercises for the strength and conditioning ..they must be consistent.

Each competitor will have a scoring sheet that he/she will take with them to each testing station. there will be a scoring sheet (After each testing station is complete..the captain will take them all to the next scoring station) The competitors will not know their scores until the end.

There will also be a comment section where the coaches can comment. As a reminder due to the current legal issues with Amateur MMA

we must be in total agreement that this is not a head striking allowed what so ever. These are NOT pre-arranged matches!

As a special note to the selection committee. It is very likely that you will have a closed door meeting when it comes down to the final selection.It is also likely that you will have a call back at the end of the day to assess (undecided candidates)

2) Athletes

 Age Requirements must be acceptable.

 All participants must be able to legally enter the USA.

All participants must submit a brief resume (identifying their involvement in combative sports)

 All participants must be on time

All participants must demonstrate good sportsmanship (regardless of the out come) All participants must come with full equipment…gloves..shin guards…mouth pieces etc. just for extra safety precautions. (safety of the competitor is first)

All participants will sign a liability waiver.

> all participants must sign a media release form (video taping or media coverage)As a special note: It is the coaches responsibilities to leave the athletes with positive experience regarding their abilities and the areas that they need to improve on etc. (for they may be tomorrows champions)


Further to my recent discussion of the Canadian National Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s planned ‘national championships’, the CNMMAF appears ready to test the boundaries of the Criminal Code in their efforts to field a Canadian AMMA team.  The road to the national championships will apparently seek to get around the section 83 prohibition of prize fights by hosting ‘tryouts‘ at various gyms and dojos.  The CNMMAF has recently updated their website with the following announcement:

The Canadian National MMA Federation has announced it will have a Nation wide Team Canada MMA Tryout , The team selections with be based upon results from the tryouts and recommendations from each participating Province.  Mr. Pellitier , The CNMMAF National Director is ensuring the criteria is fair for all provinces and that the selection process is non bias and include fair representation from all participating provinces and is within the legal guidelines of Section 83 of the Criminal Code of Canada

It is unclear exactly what the tryouts will entail other than sparring being a possibility and assertions that the competition will be fashioned similar to the tryouts held by Zuffa when screening candidates for TUF.   The official CNMMAF website only has this to say about the tryouts:

We will post all the information for the tryouts within the next week. And contact any the Athletes that have preregistered to update them.  Do not cut weight because if you are selected for the National team you will be required to weight in everyday.  Also , This is not a fight , We have to comply with section 83 of the criminal code , we have a evaluation process that will allow us to pick the athletes we feel will best represent CANADA at the world Championships. We ensure any athlete a fair and democratic process across the country , and a fair assessment to determine the best Athletes for Team Canada.

Will this strategy of implementing ‘tryouts’ instead of ‘fights’ work to get around the Criminal Code?  Only time will tell.

The Criminal Code captures non sanctioned amateur MMA competitions so long as they are “an encounter or fight with fists, hands or feet between two persons who have met for that purpose by previous arrangement made by or for them“.    This is a very wide net and certainly can be applied to competitive amateur tryouts.  There is no magic in avoiding the Criminal Code by hosting an event in a gym/dojo, or by attaching the labels ‘tryouts’ or ‘sparring’ to a competition.  All that matters is whether the above technical language is met.  If yes a prosecution can follow.  It also does not matter if you call it a fight or not as the Criminal Code also prohibits “encounters” which are arguably a broader category

To my knowledge section 83 has never been used to go after legitimate training and sparring and arguably does not extend so far.  The pre arranged ‘encounter or fight‘ likely must go beyond training and instead have a competitive nature to it.  Tryouts which seek to determine who goes on to compete in ‘national championships’ certainly can be caught by the Code depending on what occurs in the tryouts.  Time will tell if this is an effective strategy to avoid the Criminal Code or if various Provincial authorities are prepared to clarify the shades of grey in section 83 with prosecutions following these events.


5 thoughts on “More on the CNMMAF “Tryouts” – Testing Shades of Grey in Canada’s Criminal Code

    1. I would like to speak on behalf of the CNMMAF ,Our National team tryouts are a skills assessment , with historical data on the athlete , as well as other physical aspects to determine if he would be a good candidate to work with our national team coaches to prepare to represent Canada at the world Championships .
      It does not include fighting , sparring , or anything that would be non compliant of section 83 of the criminal code.
      Its the best scenario to democratically send athletes to experience the UFC Expo and represent their Country at a world Championships , a memory they can carry with them for their entire lives.
      Wayne Williams

  1. Wayne, thanks for your comment. It seems there has been a changing landscape of what the tryouts will entail. Are there specific rules or judging criteria that can be shared explaining exactly what will be assessed and judged? In terms of having a fair and democratic process, access to published rules/criteria would be a important step.

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