Short answer: As long as there is respect , control, under training condition and friendly competition, it's all good. End of the day, we do these to learn to defend ourselves, right? However when ego and lack of control is present, or to discipline someone under our guidance, avoid the face.
A position on face strikes from an Islamic/Muslim viewpoint.
We have many interested to participate in our sessions and upcoming tournament and we welcome them all.
We have had various Muslim individuals who have asked us to clarify our position regarding strikes to the face. I hope the below will clarify this.
The common prophetic saying (ahadith) quoted is;
''If any one of you has a fight with his brother, let him avoid the face.”
(al-Bukhaari, 2560; Muslim, 2612).
The usual rules for tournament states in both K-1 and MMA is strikes to face scores points towards wins.
Putting this aside, the purpose of training in striking martial arts is to enhance ones confidence and skill in delivering and blocks strikes from various angles and positions. This skill, with training and dedication, over time develops with self-control and respect.
As fighters who train to protect themselves, their families and loved ones, one needs to learn and develop the skills to handle various situations. The most common is strike to the face, as the face is vulnerable. How often has a fight taken place and NO ONE has gone for the face?
Going back to the ahadith in question and strikes to the face, we do not allow hitting on the face out of anger and/ or frustration in the tournament or otherwise. Rather it is to display skill and correct execution of technique. In a real-life situation, if it means that hitting offender in the face will protect you and get you out of a difficult and dangerous situation, so be it. If one doesn't know how to handle a strike to the face, how will they cope in that situation?
In regards to the hadith, the position we hold is; if you going to hit your 'brother' in situation OUTSIDE of training, then you are sinning, for which one has to ask for the forgiveness of the Almighty and the brother they hit.
Muslim commentators have commented that the wisdom of avoiding hitting on the face is that the face is the most respectable part of the face.
Mulla ‘Ali Qaari said in Mirqaat Al-Mafaateeh, “There is no doubt that this is not meant in all cases, because we can authoritatively assert that in case of war with the non-Muslims, if one is in a situation where he has to hit the face of the one who is fighting with him, or when he is face to face with him when he is attacked, he does not withhold himself from hitting him. If he withheld himself, he could be killed by the attacker.”
Some scholars exempted other parts of the body from hitting, such as the private parts, as ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Avoid hitting the face and the private parts.” [Ibn Abi Shaybah]
Some scholars also forbade hitting the head, while others permitted it, as ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, hit Sabeegh on his head; this story was reported by Ad-Daarimi in his Musnad.
There is nothing wrong with learning martial arts (self-defense techniques) provided that this does not involve what is Islamically prohibited
Many Muslims are familiar with personalities such as Umar Ibn Khattab and Khalid Bin Walid, two personalities renown for courage and bravery in the battlefield against their enemy, did they, as well as their companions, not hit their enemy in the face?
Many Indigenous martial arts from parts of the world have been invented by abiding Muslims- all having strikes to the face as part of their training.
As said, we do not think hitting the face is appropriate in anger and frustration, however for the sake of training and enhancing skill, the hadith quoted doesn't prove that striking on the face is contrary to training and self-defence purposes. However everything is propionate, if hitting anywhere but the face will protect you, so be it, but if hitting the face is necessary, exercise discretion.
I have heard of horror stories whereby people have misquoted the above hadith has lead to some severe consequences. Muslims who have got into really dangerous situations and been unable to successfully defend themselves in the belief that hitting the face is not allowed- therefore not hitting the face and not able to defend against face strikes as they have put off training in this. Another horror story heard recently of a Muslim Wing Chung Master of a very high calibre leaving training and teaching due to being wrongly told that hitting on the face is disallowed, even for training purposes and that pressure point training is paramount to torture. He is now sitting at home.
Whilst the club encourages training to hit the face, we empathise that students should not hit hard to cause damage in training and should be courteous to fellow students at all time and abide by their code of training, as set by their Instructor. Only those students who can be trusted to listen to their coaches and are willing to be responsible fighters will be given the opportunity to spar with control
Train hard, fight easy!
Sensei Arif Kassam (Head Coach)