so (in honest curiosity) why didn't the first man to grab a thorny branch (or burning brand) aimed at the other man's genitals always win the contest?
Beyond that, the problem with attacking another man's genital's is...he can attack yours too. So the athletes employ defensive measures that usually nullify each other.
There are some positions like full guard where groin strikes are much easier to pull off for one person. And what can I say - that's hard to watch. Usually at the least they're wearing cups but it can still be painful.
It is interesting how eye gouging and biting were, even in greek times, considered out of bounds. Why? From where does this moral sense of fairness-in-violence come? Why would people cheer a man who has successfully broken another mans neck, but shun a man who has gouged another mans eyes out?
One wonders if we will eventually return to widespread animal sport fighting.
I practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and have sparred a decent amount of MMA.
(Personally, I'm not into this sort of entertainment to say the least, but that is beside the point...)
it would take away from the spectacle and ruin an otherwise perfectly healthy athlete easily.
breaking the neck, on the other hand, is NOT an easy task, especially if your opponent is also a trained wrestler. you need skill and strength and at least it's something for the audience. i'm pretty sure though that deaths happened rarely and were mostly the result of accidents. the fighters were athletes after all, not cold blooded murderers. they were in for the money and the fame. same with the soldiers; mutilating your fellow soldiers wouldn't be a good thing.
This is untrue, there were many people who traveled the world to fight 'all comers' in no holds barred competitions. Mitsuyo Maeda is one of these people who brought judo to Brazil which later become BJJ. Maeda is not the only that did this however (travel and fight anyone, in any discipline)
Plus, before, there were fighters pitting their style against other styles. In Brazil, besides the BJJ fighters, there were 'Vale Tudo' fighters, who trained in many styles and mixed, BJJ, wrestling and stand-up (Marco Ruas for example. His trained in everything, and when asked, he said his style was Vale Tudo). Which is what any MMA athlete is today.