Kids MMA - An Exercise in Controlling Aggression?


There has been a couple good news stories to cover kid's MMA over the past couple years, but not as much as you would think.  I consider this a fairly controversial topic.  The acceptance of children, as young as 6 years old participating in mixed martial arts fighting should warrant discussion amongst the MMA community.  At least their opinion is far more educated, than the average non-supporter of the sport who wants to see it banned all-together. We should be careful that those who do not support MMA for adults or understand its professionalism do not lead a crusade on this topic.  This issue should be discussed at length by advocates of the sport who can look beyond the primal factors and truly weigh the clinical, medical and psychological aspects of inviting and encouraging children into a sport that is very aggressive and requires a mature sensibility of the exchange that takes place between opponents inside a cage.


In an interview done with a mother who was scoping out a kid's MMA program at a California school, she asked her 6 year old son Ryan if he wanted to do this {referring to the MMA sparring he saw of other kids}.  His answer was "It's too creepy."  His mother then asked him, "Is it scary?"  Her son nodded yes.


This should be a normal response.  However, in an effort to present both sides of this, kids are scared when they watch a lot of new things like diving, motor-cross and karate.  All activities that are widely accepted as normal.  


Shark Tank, a MMA school in California that has a successful kids program takes kids as young as 6 years old.  The coach, a former Special Forces Instructor does not believe that kids MMA is teaching violence, "that doing MMA with violence is your attitude and they are not doing it with malice or evil intent - it is a sport, it is martial arts, parents need to understand it is martial arts."


But it is- martial arts?  This leads to another debate, how much of the sport of MMA is really in the category of martial arts.


Paul Stricker, MD, who served on the US Olympic Team in 2000 and is a specialist in youth sports, says that children are taught the behavior of beating up other kids. "You have to think about how you are allowing  children at 6, 7 years of age to be unleashed -  so young, giving them permission to hit , kick and beat up other kids.  It is not normal child development, " explains Stricker.


It does seem a valid point.  Should children even be encouraged to access the aggression used to beat up another child.  Is it normal to hone this skill and techniques, even if it is given rules as parameters.  As someone who has been involved at various levels in the sport of MMA, I have met few MMA fighters that do not tap into deep aggression to keep them focused throughout their matches.  Many proponents of the sport for kids believe that it is a healthy outlet for kids to be aggressive and control aggression. 


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  • Hmm, I don't have kids, but if I did I think I'd just let them stick to Karate or Taekwondo like I did as a kid-- this sounds a little too aggressive, but I'm not sure. I don't like the sound of "hit other kids", I would want my children to be peaceful and use their words, not their fists.

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