Why I Want to Get My Toddler Involved in Mixed Martial Arts

Youth MMA

I've always been active. When I was young, my parents enrolled me both in dance and karate. And as much as I enjoyed jazz and ballet, there was something about martial arts that resonated with me. Mixed martial arts, or MMA, has really grown on me -- so much that I wish I could enroll my firstborn son when he turns 3.

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As it turns out, my MMA training center does offer classes to littles, but they have to be 6. Obviously, I can wait until he gets older. I just forgot he's very tall for his age. (Ha!)

Now, before you start cracking your knuckles to write a "how could you as a mother" comment, chillax. As much as I enjoy the UFC, I'm not trying to raise the next Conor McGregor. I mean, if my kids like youth MMA and want to continue it, that's something we'll need to discuss down the road. But for now, I'm more interested in what I see taught in the classes -- along with the fond memories I have of learning martial arts with my father when I was young.

Parents enroll their kids in karate or some other form of martial arts for many reasons. Aside from the self-defense aspect, it teaches you great discipline (something great for any child), courage, and restraint. The MMA group I'm a part of focuses on teamwork, as the classes are geared toward littles working together and supporting one another.

Yes, children learn to strike -- and some grapple, as they learn about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu -- but it's all age appropriate, and more importantly, it's taught by qualified instructors (the owner of my MMA facility is a dad of three, local police officer, former UFC competitor, and former college state wrestling champ). This isn't a fight club that promotes a slugfest to see who can knock out their opponent in the fastest amount of time.

There are no choke holds, no crazy arm bars or any other dangerous things you've seen on TV or YouTube. At the end of the day, we're still talking about kids here, and I highly doubt other parents would be okay with their child being put in a horrific situation. At least at my training center, classes are taught on mats, not in cages.

I remember my mother saying to me, "You better not put my grandbaby inside no cage!" She honestly thought I would give the thumbs-up to wrapping up his hands, walking to the octagon with theme music, and cheering him on as he bloodied up some other kid.

Um, no.

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When I first learned martial arts, I wasn't trying to beat anyone up in my elementary school. In fact, it empowered me to speak up to people I knew who were being mean to others, and to put the needs of my peers first. I can only hope that MMA will do the same for my boys, should they take classes when they get older and decide to stick with it.

Plus, I loved learning and comparing notes with my dad, who took adult classes. Sure, my mom was supportive, but there's something about having a parent who enjoys your same hobby that makes it extra special. Plenty of kids who take MMA classes have a father or mother learning in the adult sessions. It's super cute!

As much as I love football, there are too many risks associated with helmet-to-helmet collisions that has me and my husband looking for youth activity alternatives (soccer is at the top of our list). Youth MMA classes have a great fitness element, and teach the sport in a controlled environment. And, who knows, maybe the mister will want to sign up (for adult classes, of course).

My son, who's now 2, comes to my gym (the fitness area has a children's room), and he definitely shows an interest in all the "cool things" he sees. I think it would be a fun mommy/son bonding experience to both learn MMA. Plus, how freaking cool would that story be in a Mommy & Me group?

 

 

Image via Jose Gil / Shutterstock

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