Cage Fighting for Kids - Yes or No?
According to an article on WTSP.com, Concerns Arise as Younger Kids start MMA, "Children's mixed-martial arts fighting is becoming an increasing popular sport for children in the Bay area. Right now, it's not regulated by the state of Florida. In fact, just recently, California became the first state to sanction kids' cage fighting."
At a local MMA school, Gracie Parents and Children MMA, owner Cris Rodriguez says kids are MMA fighters in training, but they are training and learning the same techniques as adult fighters - but without the blood. "Our kids are learning the same punches and take-downs that professional mix martial artists are fighting. The difference comes in the level of control that we allow them to perform at; and "We make sure our kids have headgear. They're fully covered, all of our referees are certified referees. As long as the parameters are set, and everyone knows what's expected, I don't see a problem with kids doing Sport MMA in a tournament scene at all."
One of the parents interviewed for the article said the benefits of putting his son in the class includes "Positive attitude, self-confidence, he's not afraid of kids his age, nobody bullies him."
According to the article, "Local coaches, kids and parents are closely watching what's happening in California. The first regulated kids' cage fight was recently held in Sacramento after the State Athletic Commission shut down the sport last year." In fact, in the video below, you'll see Bas Ruten and Randy Couture are part of the show!
Andy Foster with the California Athletic Commission said: "We tried to solve a problem and make something we think was dangerous safer."
Proponents of the sport say it's safe, because kids can't take a hit to the head, must wear protective gear, and there needs to be a doctor and ambulance at the competitions.
This is a tough call...kids play baseball, football, basketball, soccer, ice hockey, etc., just like adults, and all of those sports have been adjusted, based on an athlete's age and ability. Just like in MMA for adults, or any one of the myriad of other sports enjoyed by children and youth, would children's MMA be more accepted, if there was a standard set of rules?
No - at least not according to 10 News child psychologist Mary Harris: "As a mom, I would not want my children participating in the fighting," she says. However, Ms. Harris does say she believes it depends if an individual child can handle an aggressive sport and have the discipline not to use the learned skills outside of class or competition: "I wouldn't want them to think that's how you can handle things when you feel threatened outside in the real world."
Additionally, Harris says unlike other sports, a child can feel physically defeated. "It could be damaging to their self-esteem when their whole idea of being in the sport was to improve their self-confidence and self-esteem," says Harris.
Personally, I think it's okay for kids to train in one or more of the martial arts systems that make up MMA. But training to FIGHT? In a competition? I don't like it. Stay in martials; learn about self-defense, Bushido, respect (for others and for one's self), and disclipline. But train to fight in the ring at 3 years of age? I don't think so...
What do you think? No big deal? Terrible idea? Are we teaching our kids that fighting is the answer, or just how to defend themselves from bullies? Is MMA for kids okay if there are rules protecting youth participants? Or? Please comment below, and be sure to Vote on the Poll as well - I want to hear from you! In fact, I'll use the information you provide as data for a future article!