All over the country, children as young as 5 years old are being put into cages where they then brutally punch, kick, and even choke-hold other children. If this sounds like some sort of horrific child abuse that should end in prison time for the parents, think again. It's not only legal, but incredibly popular. Mixed Martial Arts and Pankration are two of the fastest growing sports for kids. There are MMA clubs all over the country -- a quick search on YouTube brings up dozens of videos of kids brutally fighting kids. It may not be okay in the playground, but apparently it's just fine as long as it is in a cage and sanctioned by martial arts pros.
Parents are signing their kids up for MMA in droves to teach them how to defend themselves from bullies. A similar fighting club called Pankration sees kids throwing punches each other -- reportedly sometimes without headgear. Kids are taught choke-holds. Many dissolve into tears and cry for their moms.
Yeah, just in case you were wondering why kids are so violent now. Why they can't behave in class or at home. It is one thing to want to teach your kid some form of self-defense or martial arts. I think that is a really good idea.
But the right form of martial arts teaches you that getting physical is a last resort. Proper self-defense classes teach you de-escalation and escape techniques should be tried before kicks are landed and punches thrown. Classes like karate are as much, if not more, about mental and emotional restraint than physical dominance.
Putting kids in cages and telling them to go at each other is no more than a fight club with children. It teaches them violence, not how to avoid it or escape it. If anything, teaching kids that they can win with a physical assault puts them in an overly-confident state of mind that will likely bite them in the ass when they meet up with someone stronger than they are, which is inevitable.
Not only that, injuries are common. A pediatrician told Good Morning America that the sports can "lead to significant injuries to the neck, bones, and ligaments."
These fighting bouts often seem more about the parents than the kids too -- with parents urging their kids to stay in the ring despite tears.
No one would say this was a good idea if parents brought their kids into their backyard and insisted they fight each other. I don't see how this is much different.
Do you think MMA and Pankration are okay for kids?
Image via MartialArtsNomad/Flickr