Is MMA Safe for My Kids?
Kids martial arts has gotten pretty popular in the past few years with the rise of the UFC and mixed martial arts gyms popping up all over the place. More and more schools are taking the time to teach the younger generations in hope of developing the sport and producing future champions.
However, kids martial arts still has to face some of the same issues it has in the past. There are some who feel that children participating in martial arts or MMA will make them bullies, or that MMA is not safe for kids, when the reality is that when taught correctly that is not true.
Kids who train in MMA, BJJ, Wrestling, Muay Thai or any other martial art should be taught discipline, dedication, hard work, respect and how to help others around them. If MMA is taught with the traditional values of a traditional martial art, then not only is it safe, but it should build strength of character which will eliminate bullying or other anti social activities.
When taught correctly young participants (7-12yrs old) should be drilling technique, developing multi discipline skills, and achieving a high level of motor skills and fitness. Only once student's have achieved a degree of proficiency and the ability to defend themselves, should they ever participate in any form of stand up sparring (usually a year or more in). Stand up sparring should be light contact, with little or no head contact and fully padded, grappling is controlled. Student's should be taught to care for there training partners.
If this approach is taken with the delivery of a kids MMA programme, combined with instilling strong traditional values, then the student's understand that they are there to compete on the mats and are not out there just to beat up their opponent. They understand that they are participating in a sport, and just like rugby, soccer, netball or any other sport, there are rules they must follow.
When delivered in a responsible manner, safety and bullying are not an issue.
So What are the Benefits of Your Kids Training MMA?
In a world where our children are constantly bombarded with images of junk food, the ever present distraction of smart devices and gaming (all good in moderation), and a woke cotton wool society that discourages, bull rush, climbing tree's and physicality, it is easy for our kids to battle with obesity, social isolation, and a sedentary lifestyle. So the benefits of your children participating in MMA or any martial art for that matter are many.
In this writers opinion the benefits fall in to 4 main categories;
- Physical Fitness, Health & Wellbeing
- Self Defense
- Values & Life Skills
- Dealing with Adversity
Physical Fitness, Health & Wellbeing Benefits
The physical benefits of training MMA for kids are many, with a well structured MMA programme, your kids will be engaged in lot's of movement which will improve their motor skills, they will actively exercise which will improve their fitness, strength and endurance, they will develop superior coordination, balance and flexibility which they can apply to all physical activities.
Developing a healthy relationship with exercise at a young age, will also increase the likely hood that they will continue to exercise throughout their lives, and this will increase their ability to battle chronic disease later in life. Physical fitness also increases your child's personal image of themselves and will increase their confidence.
Self Defense Benefits
Like all martial arts the self defense benefits for children are great, however, with MMA, the kids are really learning functional defense that works both on the feet and on the ground. The contact that kids get used to during MMA training allows then to deal with any physical altercation with a level head and not too emotionally, and lastly and most importantly, your kids will grow in self confidence, they will 'Walk Tall' and carry themselves in a manner where they will not be victimised by bullies.
Values & Life Skills Benefits
When taught with structure, a sense of tradition and respect, and with benchmarks to guide your child's progress, kids MMA can be a powerful life skills tool.
In a sport that involves strict rules, that require following the coach’s instructions to the letter, it’s a give-in that your kids will acquire discipline, self-control, mutual respect, focus, self confidence, understand the relationship between effort and reward, and the importance of goal setting. All powerful life skills, that will serve them well later in life and can be applied to any activity or career they choose.
Dealing with Adversity
Martial arts, like life is full of adversity, and the outcomes you achieve are dependent on how you deal with that adversity.
That adversity in kids MMA can start from day one, firstly your child may have to overcome the fear of joining class, meeting new people and often imagining that on day one, some big kid is going to be punching them in the face (this of course is far from the reality, but no less real for them).
Dealing with adversity in class can come in many forms; continuing to exercise when you are already tired, learning an unfamiliar technique, training with someone larger than you, your first class sparring, all of these are hurdles which can be daunting, but once your child overcomes these obstacles and learns to embrace the grind, they will grow both physically and in character.
For those who prepare for a grading and perhaps are not ready, or fail, they learn to persevere.
For those who are grappling and find themselves underneath another student, they learn to problem solve and or grit out the experience.
For those older student's who choose to compete, they may lose and learn to deal with failure.
While getting over their failures and pushing themselves to do better, your kids will understand that success isn’t easy and that it requires hard work and dedication.
All in all, the right kids MMA programme is a learning environment, and by facing and then overcoming adversity, our children grow in confidence & build strength of character. It is this confidence and strength of character which helps our kids develop problem solving skills, helps them later in life better deal with stress or mental health issues and ultimately helps them grow into leaders, prepared to meet the world head on.
7 Tips for Finding The Right MMA Club
Once you have decided that kids MMA is a safe healthy activity for your child, then you need to find the right place to train, because although kids MMA can be great for your child, enrolling them at the wrong club can be damaging for your child.
Tips for finding a great club for your child to train;
- Make sure the facility is clean & professionally run
- Make sure your trainer is experienced
- Try to choose classes run by someone with a traditional martial arts background as well as MMA, this will help insure they instill values in the classes
- Do they have a structured syllabus, which gives your child benchmarks to work towards and achieve.
- Do they have a team of instructors so you know classes will always be held
- Avoid big ego's or classes run by bullies
- Trust your gut, do they feel like they have your child's best interests at heart.
TMAA Papamoa's kids MMA programme is taught in a clean world class facility, with a family friendly environment.
We have a structured syllabus which your children will receive on day one of training. This syllabus has been created to combine aspects of fitness and fundamental techniques required to become proficient in both stand up, grappling and the transitions in between.
We have a team of instructors who support our kids MMA programme, lead by Kyokushin Kai Karate black belt Vinnie Stowe. Vinnie also has experience in BJJ, kickboxing, wrestling and has been an active MMA fighter. Our coaching team will teach our rolling syllabus which includes aspects of Muay Thai, BJJ, wrestling, Taekwon-Do and Boxing.
If you are looking for a new activity for your child TMAA Papamoa can provide the perfect learning environment, with a great support team for your child, and we will have some fun along the way as well.