Many parents know that martial arts are great for their kids because they teach them invaluable lessons that can be transferred to every aspect of life. But MMA is a brutal sport that is not often considered very appropriate for kids. But is this treatment fair, or is this an unfounded myth?
With a proper curriculum explicitly designed for kids, MMA is a fantastic sport to practice. It promotes discipline, a strong work ethic, respect, and physical health more than any other sport or pastime.
MMA has a lot to offer to the youngest generations. The stigma around the sport is nearly completely lifted, with many new academies having children’s programs. But if you need further persuasion, let’s see what makes MMA for kids good.
MMA has progressed immeasurably from its bloody, no-holds-barred beginnings to the respected mainstream athletic status it now enjoys. So it was inevitable that it reached the kids’ level. After all, every sport picks its best talents very young.
Traditional martial arts enjoy a steady following among very young children, and everyone agrees on their benefits. But MMA still has a bad reputation, given the brutal nature of the sport for adults and the documented risk of brain injury.
But MMA for kids can be as safe as any other martial art or sport when trained correctly and with the proper curriculum and program.
The chief concern among parents is safety, and it’s a solid one. This is why kids’ MMA emphasizes the entire program should be tailored to children. When taught correctly, young participants mainly drill techniques, develop motor skills and learn traditional values.
They are taught BJJ, Muay Thai, and wrestling safely. Every academy can have its own curriculum, but usually, striking is done with very light contact and always under supervision. Grappling is also taught gradually, with a risk of injury no greater than any other sport available.
The youngest students start learning techniques and fitness in a fun and intriguing ways. Only after they are proficient with them can they start doing some form of sparring. The young ones are taught to always care for their partner when that happens.
MMA is a sport with rules that must always be followed. This same principle exists in any gym. Children participating in MMA in a reputable place are in no more danger than they would be on the football field or the basketball court. But I would argue that the benefits of the MMA gym are better.
What Makes MMA Good For Kids?
The benefits of martial arts for kids are immense and well-known. But while most of them are shared across all martial arts, MMA adds unrivaled practicality to the martial arts skills learned.
Kids like to beat each other, and that is a fact every parent cannot deny. While this is not always bad, bullying is a serious problem, and MMA is a perfect antidote in both directions. First, a kid learns how to fight, handle pressure, and have confidence, making them a challenging target for bullies.
Then, they learn humility and respect for their peers in the gym. It is unlikely that a child who practices MMA or any martial art will become a bully.
Bullying is the biggest reason many parents put their kids into martial arts. It has been the catalyst for more than a few MMA world champions first to begin training.
Physical health and fitness
But the benefits are far more than just being bully-proof. MMA includes all fighting disciplines, making it one of the most versatile sports. Kids learn critical motor skills and develop dexterity, agility, strength, coordination, endurance, and overall fitness.
Everyone knows just how necessary physical fitness is for overall health. And as we said, if the program is appropriately designed for kids, injuries should be very few and far between.
With messages in the media incentivizing kids to go for immediate gratification through electronic devices, martial arts promote discipline and understanding the value of hard work and focus. They also teach respect for your peers and your superiors.
These skills are useful in all aspects of life and can be game-changers for children who learn them in the safe environment of the gym. There, kids learn social skills and get used to physical contact and cooperation.
Like life, MMA is full of constant challenges and adversities they must overcome. In the gym, kids will face many fears and inevitably learn to deal with adversity in both social and physical aspects. Overcoming all these obstacles increases their self-confidence dramatically.
What Is The Best Age For Kids To Start MMA?
There is no perfect age for starting MMA training. Every child is different; some may soak up knowledge earlier than others. Just like not all kids learn to read at the same time, they cannot begin to understand martial arts at the same time either. The kid must understand what he learns and why he learns it.
Kids’ MMA programs are usually divided by age group because the needs and abilities of each group are very different. Some children begin training as young as four, but the sessions are more like play than actual training. Kids aged 4 to 7 or 8 mainly develop the motor skills needed for further martial arts learning.
The next group is usually from 8 to 12, when the progress in mental and physical abilities in kids is very rapid. Kids at this age have much more discipline and focus and learn the skills much faster. At this age, there are already some forms of grappling competitions in which youngsters can participate.
Most kids start training in MMA in their teenage years when the decision to sign up is their own and not that of their parents. All motor skills are usually developed by this age, leaving teens to focus solely on martial arts skills. At this stage, training is very similar to that of adults, including sparring and free rolling but with more control and supervision.
Is There An MMA League For Kids?
Youth MMA is handled differently in different states and countries. Many states in the United States have outlawed MMA competitions for children, requiring fighters to be at least 17 or 18 years old to compete. California was the first state to regulate youth MMA, and the USFL holds tournaments under stringent safety protocols.
The first youth MMA World Championships under the IMMAF banner were held in 2019 in Rome, followed by the 2021 edition in Sofia and the 2022 tournament in Abu Dhabi. The big difference in youth rules used in IMMA is all head strikes are banned on the feet and the ground, placing a much greater emphasis on grappling and wrestling to avoid brain trauma.
The sport of MMA is still growing, and its youth department will inevitably establish itself just like the adult version has broken so many barriers.
In the meantime, most MMA gyms with kids programs hold grappling competitions and grappling meets in which kids from different gyms grapple against each other in a less-than-formal setting. And even then, the most dangerous and damaging submissions are banned to ensure safety.
How To Choose The Right Class for Your Kid?
As we’ve repeatedly stressed, MMA for kids is great when the program is designed specifically for them, and the coaches have the right approach to working with youngsters. If you are a parent looking for the right gym, you should check a few things when choosing a suitable class for your child.
- Make sure the gym has a specific program for kids. Training MMA like adults is not suitable for kids. The most important thing is that there is a curriculum designed for kids. Then check the age groups and whether there is an appropriate group for your child.
- Check the school’s safety and hygiene. The second most important step is ensuring the gym is well-equipped and well-maintained. A good gym must have well-kept mats and all the necessary equipment.
MMA for kids can be safe, productive, and even positively life-changing. The benefits are physical, mental, social, and even spiritual when the trainer and program are designed for kids at a specific age. If everything caters to the needs of the young ones, they will get the most out of it while remaining safe, healthy, and happy.