Manitoba Planning To Legalize Amateur Combat Sports

I have it on good authority that Manitoba is close to exercising their rights under section 83 of the Criminal Code to legalize a variety of amateur combative sports.

Manitoba will apparently pass an Order in Council in the upcoming weeks.  The OIC will designate a variety of traditional amateur marital arts as legal.  These will initially  be limited to striking arts such as Karate.

The Government plans on handing the regulatory reigns to oversight of these sports to various Provincial Sports Organizations.

Amateur MMA and Kickboxing will apparently be excluded from the OIC (meaning they will remain illegal for the time being) as these sports lack a PSO in the Province.

The Province is apparently open minded to legalizing both amateur MMA and Kickboxing, however, they do not wish to be the regulator and the legalization of these sports will be put on hold until the community develops a recognized PSO for these sports which can gain the confidence of the Government.


Update October 8, 2014 – Manitoba has now passed the anticipated OIC.  Details can be found here.

5 thoughts on “Manitoba Planning To Legalize Amateur Combat Sports

  1. Karate tournaments have been run in Manitoba for over 40 years without requiring that the Province step in to control things and protect us from ourselves. Safety can’t be the issue here. I see more people carried off on a stretcher at a football, hockey, or soccer game than I do at a karate tournament, especially point-sparring tournaments. I’ve been competing for over 20 years in Shotokan karate tournaments and have maybe seen only a handful of injuries that were serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital. Even the full-contact martial arts competitions I’ve attended have relatively low injury rates in comparison to the above-mentioned sports. This whole thing reeks of a government cash grab to me. I see absolutely no benefit from having the government step in to “regulate” things that they do not know enough about. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong though. And if that’s the case, someone please enlighten me.

  2. Phil, thanks for your comment.

    I agree most traditional martial arts tournaments, and even MMA for that matter, have a relatively good safety record when contrasted with other full contact sports. I don’t believe this is necessarily a safety issue nor even a cash grab.

    The need for this ‘oversight’ stems directly from Bill S-209 which was passed by the Federal Government last year and amended section 83 of Canada’s Criminal Code. The practical effect of this was to make MMA and all traditional martial arts contests that are not in the Olympics (ie Karate) illegal unless Provincial governments overrode this default position through legislation or an order in council. The Provinces have been shaping individual responses to this reality and this is Manitoba’s effort to legalize sports that would otherwise be illegal due to the modern reading of the Criminal Code prizefighting provision.

    If you want further background on how Bill S-209 overhauled Canada’s combat sports legal landscape you can click here to read my archived posts addressing many of these topics –

    1. Thanks for the quick reply Erik and for providing this information to the Canadian martial arts community.

      I’m definitely not a lawyer so please excuse my ignorance. I have done some reading regarding Bill S-209 and understand that the law had not been updated since around 1939 or so, and needed to better reflect the martial arts landscape of today (although they chose to leave in the term “prize fighting”… a term I imagine my great grandfather might have used). However does that mean that until June of last year when Bill S-209 was passed, that there was technically no law regarding martial arts contests that used the hands AND feet, meaning that holding a martial arts tournament unsanctioned by the province was technically not breaking the law? I say this because until very recently I had not heard anything of this law, and I think that most martial artists are not aware of its existence either. I had never heard of a tournament being shut down by the police until I read your blog.

      As for the cash grab comment… I still believe that when the government controls your ability to run a tournament unless you are licensed and hold an event permit… which means paying all the fees that go along with being licensed and applying for an event permit, not to mention the fines you face if you break the rules, then that is indeed a cash grab. It’s absurd to think that we need this level of regulation. The government might as well make it illegal to hold Scrabble tournaments unless you are a licensed Scrabble player sanctioned by the Province.

  3. Prior to the Bill S-209 only government sanctioned boxing contests were allowed in addition to “a boxing contest between amateur sportsmen, where the contestants wear boxing gloves of not less than one hundred and forty grams each in mass”.

    You are correct that many traditional martial arts contests ran afoul of this law. Government appeared content, however, for the most part to turn a blind eye to this on the basis that it was an antiquated law that did not grow with the times. Government stopped being comfortable with this logic once S-209 passed because the law was no longer antiquated rather it was drafted (poorly many argue) with a full appreciation of the combat sports that take place in modern Canada.

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