MMA Has Welcomed Kids Into the Cage

It was only a matter of time, I suppose. I must admit I was unaware of the existence of children’s Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) but can’t say I’m totally surprised.

CNN describes what has become one of the country’s fastest growing sports among kids. The brutal graphics show boys as young as 6 battering each other with punches, kicks and chokeholds.

Defenders of the “sport” argue it promotes staying in shape, sportsmanship and having fun. But judging by the lurid photos, there seems to be little fun in the bruises and black eyes that stick out like literal sore thumbs. And shaking hands after a match is great, but does it carry enough weight in the life lessons department to justify learning to cagefight before learning to read?

This reminds me of a more extreme version of children’s beauty pageants. There are plenty of individual pros and cons people are eager to present, but there’s something stopping me from probing that deep. Call it too strong a first impression, but it just seems wrong. I’m not sure there’s an existing point of view that is going to convince me that first graders should be marred in blood and tears. At least with the beauty pageants, only the kids’ minds and self-esteem will be scarred for life.

As we age, we learn that with little effort, we can expose ourselves to countless stories every day from around the world that will make us cry or cringe, and that we tragically cannot control. This is hardly the first time I’ve read an article that makes me want to climb inside the minds of senseless parents, or at least shake them by their unreachable shoulders.

I have accepted that these bewildering things will continue to happen. I have accepted that these disconcerting decisions will continue to be made. I have accepted that my voice, however loud, is unlikely to be heard.

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8 Responses to MMA Has Welcomed Kids Into the Cage

  1. the truth is out threre says:

    What CNN has are pictures from a Pankration event where small gloves are used to protect hands and shin guards are used to protect legs. They do not wear head gear because they don’t strike to the face or head (there are no knockouts). They are in a cage because they have experienced the cage to be much safer then a ring where you can fall out. I would not let my Son participate in a full contact MMA or full contact football or cheer leading or rugby or some forms of karate and the list can goes on. However my Son has been participating in this sport for around 8 years now. He has been in over 100 matches and has never been seriously injured or injured anyone. He has jammed a finger but this is a small price to pay for what this sport has done for him. Some people will say “there is a better way to instill good values and healthy living” and i answer perhaps but if you took the time to talk to 99.9% of individuals actually participating in this sport you would be blown away at what type of people they are. These kids are good academic students, in incredible shape and outstanding citizens. The media has been slamming this sport because it is very easy to look at pictures and doctored videos to get people all fired up and passionate (for page views or ratings). Do yourself a favor before slamming what you think this sport is all about. Contact the USFL United States Fight League who leads the nation in Pankration and ask them for an injury report from the last 5 or 10 events. Search for videos that have not been edited and you will see the truth is out there. TRUTH is CNN wont because NO ONE will read an article if the headline reads SAFE FORM OF MMA FOR KIDS. CNN is a business and businesses need to make money. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet and see on TV. The sport is not crazy and the very small amount of people affiliated with it can’t help but sit back and laugh at all the negative attention we are all getting.

  2. My 2c, without knowing any more about this than what I’ve read in the article and the first post – there are many ways to teach kids all these same lessons without also teaching them the lessons inherent in fighting. Fighting of any sort, by its very nature, is violence against other people.

    Self defense is, however, good to know. You never know when you will need to defend yourself against some crazy person coming at you with fists, sticks, or a knife, and knowing you can protect yourself is a good place to be, mentally.

    But I’ll reject out of hand the argument that a “cage” is safer than a ring. You know what you can’t fall out of? The floor. Many martial arts matches seem to work fine on the floor with a ring drawn on it. The purpose of an elevated platform is for the spectators, which is not necessary to teach any lesson except that some people are entertained by watching other people fight.

    • the truth is out there says:

      They do also run tournaments and use wrestling mats that are on the floor. Your right they need elevation so spectators can watch when they have special events which is reserved for the elite level kids in this sport. Why do people watch Olympic wrestling, Judo, Karate? Because the elite compete and its entertaining. The real point I want to make is these pictures and video are most always taken out of context. These kids work so hard that most of the pictures you see them crying aren’t because they are hurt but rather they lost there match(and Dan that is a fact). Dan this sport is done all over the world but relatively new 15 years to the U.S. Every so often someone writes a story and a flurry of stories follow. The Last thing i want to say is a football player tackles, hockey players check each other, lacrosse players run into each other, wrestlers slam each other on a mat so why is it that NO one is writing an article about these people doing this to random people on the street. Because it is in competition where it belongs and where it stays and there is no difference in the sport of Pankration period

  3. “Truth” you are incorrect about there being no difference between individual fighting “sports” and the other sports you mention. First, team endeavors are different in nature, and therefore irrelevant. However, I hear all the time about football and basketball players getting into fights, committing violence against women, and generally misbehaving. I don’t know if it’s more of them than the general population… we just hear about it because they are famous.

    As for other martial arts or boxing, they all fall into the same category for me. It’s fighting, plain and simple. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be taught, or practiced, or even competed. I just wish it wasn’t glorified and spectated. That’s just my opinion.

  4. the truth is out there says:

    Dan i respect your opinion and appreciate the fact that you are speaking with intelligence and not just letting emotion take over. What i mean about being the same as other sports is only meant to express the point that these kids aren’t beating each other or random kids on the street. Here are some characteristics/facts about my son that he shares with most of his peers involved in Pankration
    1) 3.7 grade average or better for the last 4 years
    2) He is very polite and respectful to everyone
    3) He is quiet and reserved
    4) He would be the first to help another kid in need of assistance if he witnessed them being bullied. Even if helping only meant getting a teacher or adult to assist. He would do this without any fear of retaliation.
    I know this sounds crazy but our sons and daughters compete because they like to and this is how they get better. We all watch because it is exciting and if you can see past the violence for a second and realize rules have been put in place to minimize injury. You will also be able to see the level of talent and dedication and how it translates to everything these kids do. So I hope Matt Bravmann reads these comments and realizes that the articles attached to these pictures may look really bad but it isn’t what happened. The articles were only written to entice, entertain, enrage and create a buzz so they can get views to help keep their advertisers happy. The reason i know all this is because i was there at all these events.

  5. It’s knee jerk blogs and articles like this that are a complete waste of everyone’s time. A kid trying to make a name for himself cherry picks some pictures and wraps a story around them to make a kids martial arts league look like UFC for kids. People who are too lazy to do their own research grab it without fact checking run with it, embellishing it along the way ( Black eyes and blood in a sport with no head contact??)

    The truth. The sport is FILA Pankration, it is governed and regulated by the same organization that runs Olympic Wrestling. No Strikes To The Head, No Slams, No More Than 3 Scoring Strikes From Any Position, No Neck Cranks, Submission Must Be Applied Gradually, Intentionally Attempting to Injure Your Opponent Will Result in Disqualification…

    It’s not UFC for kids, it is a great fun and safe sport for kids. We have had US National Youth teams at the last two FILA World Championships.

  6. The sport is also nothing new. My three kids have been competing since 2007 and sport has been around for over 13yrs

  7. This is a topic that is close to my heart… Many thanks!
    Where are your contact details though?