"Fight Club" for kids

With moves like "ground-and-pound" and "lay-and-pray", Mixed Martial Arts is considered the most brutal form of contact sport after street fighting. So why are children as young as six getting involved?

MMA is a refined version of "ultimate fighting", the short-lived full-contact sport that emerged in the early nineties and was once labelled "human cock fighting" by John McCain. Too violent for the public, ultimate fighting was reworked with a few strict rules and re-entered the sporting arena as "Mixed Martial Arts". Since it began, three people have died from MMA related injuries, and organised competitions are illegal in 49 states. However, the sport's popularity continues to grow, and it's now on a par with wrestling and boxing in terms of TV viewing numbers.

In the past few years increasing numbers of classes for children have sprung up around the US. In states where it's legal, such as Missouri, competitions are staged - like the one in this video.

Posted by "pankrasekid" 18 November 2007.

"It’s just a big pillow fight"

Matthew Douglas runs the Barbarian Fight Club which is open to children, and The Cave MMA gym, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He held the US title in MMA for three years.

If you've got a coach who's not teaching adults properly, then they're going to get themselves hurt. It's just the same with children. There are some extra precautions you have to take with kids, but that's easily conquered with leg pads, head gear and thicker gloves. MMA for kids is just a mixture of wrestling for kids, jujitsu for kids and judo for kids. There are wrestling and judo classes for 4-5 year-olds. That's a start. Once they've got one martial art they can then go on to MMA.

My son is nine-years-old and he's perfectly trained in MMA. In fact we're off to Missouri - where it's legal for kids to fight in competition - for his first fight next month. He's really excited. You look at the kids when they come out of a fight - they love it! And they're the best of buddies with the people they fight. It's just a big pillow fight for them.

I've never personally seen any child get injured. I'm sure it's happened, like with every sport. Just last night I was watching a children's [American] football game and a seven-year-old got his knee busted so bad he'll never play again. MMA fighters have great respect - I've competed right to the top and I've never hurt anyone.

MMA is getting really big now. We have a fight every three months here and we get around 2000 spectators each time. It's the sport of sports - its original form is gladiator fights. People might say they don't like watching fights. But if one breaks out ten yards away, you're going to watch it."

"Why? For the spectacle"

Yves Papelier is a sports science doctor and judo coach in Paris.

These videos make me think of full contact or Thai boxing. The most dangerous aspect seems to be the length of the fights. It's the same difference between amateur boxing and professional boxing - when amateur enters professional boxing, the matches are longer so that competitors get hurt. At the end of the fight they're tired, and are slower to dodge the blows - which are still as powerful. It's even truer for a child, who has a limited capacity to resistance. It's people around them who will push them to hurt themselves.

I can't say if I'd call what I've seen in these videos a sport. Sport is a coded practice and a part of a culture and society. Its rules are the results of evolution. They're a kind of gentlemanly agreement, a way of continuing the sport while protecting the sportsmen. Judo and karate are dangerous sports. That's why there are also customs that go with it (we salute each other before and after a fight etc). In professional boxing, this is not so present. And with MMA, we reduce the rules even further, to a minimum, and let the players express themselves. Why? For the spectacle. It's a very Anglo-Saxon view of sport. With judo, there's no aggression, at least not with the good fighters. And the public don't shout (at least not until recently), because it's a sport and not a gladiator fight."

"France is more developed than the US in terms of sport"

Anthony Desbois is a sports professor from Nice. He teaches judo and wrestling, and helped to create the French Sporting Federation's charter on martial arts.

This sport presents both biomechanical and psychological problems. I watched these videos carefully. These children carry on punching even when someone is on the ground. The most worrying thing for me, is the headlocks and shoulder locks, that can cause a cervical strain at the back of the neck. With this type of move, when it hurts, it means it's too late - it's broken.

MMA is banned in France by the Minster of Youth, Sports and Health. We consider that sports should be codified and not endanger the people involved. It's also because MMA is a practice often related to sects - it's happened several times in France. And also because there's a fine line between being a good coach and a guru. France is more developed than the US in terms of sport - the US only has a commercial approach to practice."

Children fighting MMA with no protection

Posted by "pankrasekid" 14 December 2006.

Comments

"France is more developed than the US in terms of sport"

French Savate is one of the most brutal martial arts known to man. Savate training and competition allows powerful kicks to the head and is practised by children, yet there is no mention of it in this article. Even children's soccer produces far more serious injuries than kid's MMA ever has.

Only the untrained and ignorant are critical of the fairly new phenomenon of American kid's MMA. These events are extremely safe, organized and well regulated. The children in these videos have many years of training under some of the most renowned martial artists in the world. They learn respect, control and conditioning that reduces the chance of injury. No head contact or slams are allowed. Unlike adult MMA, the kid's fights are stopped at the first sign of potential injury.

Compared to other sports, such as American football, MMA is tame. I challenge the authors to come up with any DOCUMENTED incidents where a child was seriously injured or died practising MMA in a controlled environment. You simply can't, but hundreds of reports can be found of injury or death from organized kid's football, baseball, basketball, boxing, soccer... and for that matter,Savate.

What about Savate?

I agree .. I have seen children kicking eachother full force in savate competition .what do the "experts" say about that?

France is more developed?

"France is more developed than the US in terms of sport - the US only has a commercial approach to practice."

Really? How many gold medals did France win at the recent "amateur" Olympics compared to the U.S.? How is that "non-commercial" approach working out for you?

I know that's an unfair comparsion--almost as unfair as characterizing all sports in the U.S. by implying that MMA for children is mainstream and widespread. It isn't.

As a friend of mine once remarked, "the foreign press in the U.S. exists primarily to make fun of the U.S." This is an excellent example of that.

"Really? How many gold

"Really? How many gold medals did France win at the recent "amateur" Olympics compared to the U.S.? How is that "non-commercial" approach working out for you? "

First amateur sport is sport practiced by common people. You will not consider Phelps as AMATEUR

Anyhow in respect of GOLD france did 7 and USA 36 which makes them almost equal because France has more then 5 times less people then USA
However, in total medals France did 40 and USA 110 which makes FRANCE way better, considerding number of medals per capita

"I know that's an unfair comparsion--almost as unfair as characterizing all sports in the U.S. by implying that MMA for children is mainstream and widespread. It isn't."

I completely agree. I have been living in USA and there is pleanty of sports and facilities for ametuers which are for respect. There is many positive things about american sport. It should be noted though that number of sports in USA are gladiatorly unhumain: 1. American Futball 2. American BOX 3. Street fight in cage..... This should be cenzored! It is BARBARIC!
I do also belive them some sport in Europe should aslo be considered for restrictions
What is European problem that is not present in USA are BARBARIC football FANS. If you want to hammer them use this !!!

"As a friend of mine once remarked, "the foreign press in the U.S. exists primarily to make fun of the U.S." This is an excellent example of that."

Oh pure you.... How did you fail to notice AROGANCE AND IGNORANCE OF USA media makinG fun on anyone and anything non American. Of course you did not noticed it because your madia BUILT YOU not to notice it

Let me give you small example. Talking on some issues on media I stated to American guy that some non Anglo-Saxon media may be more objevtie on certain issues simply because their countries do not have any interest in matter. I just wanted to use Bulgaria as example, more because Bulgaria had not issues in certain matter and dus was potentially neutral in viewing it.
American guy on mentioning of Bulgaria start loughing loudly.... I followed with the question "Have you ever watch any Bulgarian media?"
He said:"For God Sake NO!" .... contiuing with lough
What do you think on this?

Condition or Nature

"It's the sport of sports - its original form is gladiator fights." Yes, like democracy is an ancient Greek invention and is defined by Aristotle defining slaves by nature. I thought tennis history can tell you more of modern sports origine. Leisure man, not a Colloseum scape-goat reality like from René Girard's anthropology concept. Either you use metaphores or you describe real world. Just decide. There is no pillow there. And a kid resigned rather like a kid character in Tornatore's movie not like in a pillow fight. Comparison to American football is not adequate since accidental injuries are not a main topic here but deliberate beating and compelling to akcnowledge supremacy in this way. This is a sport for kids, of course, instead of killing innocent flies or ants, here they have a right opponent and more fun.

This is horrible.. I

This is horrible.. I couldn´t bear to watch it anymore!! One boy has shoes on and the other doesn´t.. that´s not fair! Also.. why are they not made to wear protection? :-/ They´re young and they´re brains could be damaged in the process. Also... why do their parents allow them to do this?!

Lena

LOL

Alright you dumb bitch lets get some things straight. They are not allowed to hit in the head. Second, What the fuck is the difference between this and boxing? Boxing you're being trained to get punched in the head your whole life where in MMA you try to utilize your ground game. Whos fault is it that one kid is a little bitch and can't take a shot from another 10 year old? Those hits aren't capable of doing significant damage. Maybe the parents kid should just call it quits since he doesn't have the will to actually fight. I train kids almost every day and I'll tell you they are some of the nicest kids you will ever meet. According to their parents, my students grades go up. They also have never gotten into a fight at school.

Do you consider asking for help?

"They are not allowed to hit in the head."

Are they? What I saw few times were hits exactly in a had

Second, What the fuck is the difference between this and boxing?

I agree. Neither of the two are for the kids

"Whos fault is it that one kid is a little bitch and can't take a shot from another 10 year old?"

I train kids almost every day and I'll tell you they are some of the nicest kids you will ever meet."

This is nice. Now let us see what kind of person you are. Lets quote how do you talk to women with diferent opinion then your's:
"Alright you dumb bitch lets get some things straight."

What do you think of a child that is not willing to fight:
"Whos fault is it that one kid is a little bitch and can't take a shot from another 10 year old?"

Richness of your vocabulary when you want to ephasize the difference in something:

"What the fuck is the difference ......?"

Question:

Having you as a teacher of anything what kind of persons will those nice kids became?

I think these kids will be

I think these kids will be like Rambo when they are 18 years old! I would not want my kid to be in there, it creates aggressiveness for sure.

It doesn't appear that they

It doesn't appear that they allow srtiking to the head.

Close