There is little doubt that with its hard-hitting skill and action, mixed martial arts (MMA) has become a popular sport, not only for its adult athletes and avid fans, but for kids. According to ESPN, a 2011 market research study reported 30,000 MMA schools in the U.S. with a staggering 5.5 million teen participants and 3.2 million kids in MMA under the age of 13.
MMA grew from a discipline that was once banned in some states (In 1983 Pennsylvania’s Senate banned what were then called “Tough Guy Competitions”) to become a culturally acceptable, mainstream, multi-million dollar spectator sport. Like any popular sport, it boasts highly paid top fighters and heroes who have become household names, such as Canada’s Georges St-Pierre – known as “GSP” in the ring and to his millions of fans.
The increase in kids MMA was bound to happen. The generation of youngsters coming up now are the first to live in a time when MMA is a widely-accepted and respected martial art form. The passage of time and a little knowledge about what occurs in the sport goes a long way. When you consider the popularity and outright acceptance of other forms of the fighting arts in North America – boxing, karate, and judo to name but a few – it was only a matter of time that MMA for kids received its due.
Once the news-selling sensationalism of the early predecessors of MMA died down, and the training, discipline and skill involved became known, acceptance was bound to follow. Combat sports will always have detractors. It’s interesting to think about how parents view judo, karate and boxing now. These disciplines are often regarded as sports that teach discipline, build character and increase confidence. Did adult detractors once have fears that youth participants would use their skill to settle schoolyard spats? Probably. The same is true of the naysayers of kids MMA.
The reality of participating in mixed martial arts is not lost on the kids in there doing it, though. They have fun, they feel good, and they aren’t roaming our neighbourhoods in packs picking fights.
Parents – Research the Sport. Research Kids MMA Gear
This doesn’t mean parents don’t have valid concerns. Any parent whose child participates in any sport, needs to understand the inherent risks. If your child is considering MMA, go watch kids train, meet the instructors, talk to parents who have kids participating. Most importantly, ensure that if your child does participate, they have the right gear. Don’t settle on old equipment or ill-fitting gear for full-grown adults. For young kids, there are kids boxing gloves designed and sized accordingly, and for teens, there are smaller sizes of MMA gloves .