An Overview of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) – Is it Suitable for Children? The MMA Corner Staff February 17, 2019 News I know so many contact/contactless sports and most of them because of the delicate nature of the head, wear helmets to protect their heads. Such sports include football, hockey, cricket, Etcetera. MMA however, is one of them and whilst the other sports aims to protect the head, MMA, though with helmets on, has the head as a major target in fights. The question that persists, however, is that “is MMA a sports kids should participate in?” The number of children that visit mixed martial arts, boxing, and other related sports’ gym weekly is both mind-blowing and mind-boggling. Kids of different age groups even as young as 4 years of age go into these gyms to receive training on how to fight. The mind-boggling thing however is, could these children be endangering their health as a result? Many studies have been made on this subject and till today, it is still a matter of contention and debate around the world. According to a charity organization; “Brain Injury Charity Headway”, a child stands a risk of brain trauma if they start taking training for combat sports at too young an age. The organization calls for all sports where the objective is to aim for the head of an opponent to be banned for all age groups, whether a child or an adult. This is, however, a bold ask, as there are millions and millions of fans of both MMA and boxing around the world. The game itself has rules and protective measures that guide the fight. Headway posits/suggests that the life and future of a child are in jeopardy if that child continues to get hit on the head every time, the impact is disastrous, so why would anyone want to take that chance? A differing opinion, however, comes from a variety of personalities in the MMA industry, including coaches, medal winners, doctors in sports and exercise and so many others. They say Contact sports are safe for children. This as now turned out to be a debate based on opinions. The BBC – Get Inspired took a look at the global talking point. The focus on the debate has gained worldwide recognition due to some fatalities in the past few years. Scott Westgarth fell ill and subsequently died after a light – heavyweight fight last year. Another one two years prior to that is Mike Towell, who died at the hospital for serious injuries to the head. Another Instance is the traumatic brain injury the great boxing champion Adonis Stevenson experienced after a fight in Quebec. Others include Michael Watson, Nick Blackwell, Etcetera. Recently, a 14-year-old boy died in Thailand in a boxing fight and there has been a widespread protest in Thailand to stop children from engaging in combat sports. Amidst all these things, it is only normal to ask if truly the MMA is good for four-year-olds. Is it? Interviewing a trainer, the BBC reported that he Mr. Garnett says; “what the kids learn at gyms is different from what we see on television”. He said his mission is not to create five-year-old Fighters but to encourage children to be fit enough in case a need for self-defense may arise. A British taekwondo fighter claimed he doesn’t fight outside of the gym, but the gym shaped him to be the man he is today. It gave him the confidence to take hits in life and courage to keep fighting despite the pains. He claimed that he never fought anyone outside of the gym or even had an altercation on the streets. The aim of any combat sport is the same, it is aimed at self-defense. As a child, I was a peacemaker he said, I would often separate fight between my pairs and defuse situations that may lead to fights, this was the lesson I learned from my gym, this was the life I lived and still live daily. MMA teaches confidence and discipline, and our children need this, no matter how young they may seem. MMA is an escape route from violence and trouble. The gym teaches kids to be positive in their character and to respect the next man. At the gym, kids make friends easily and they are family. The strive together to become better versions of themselves. Those teens who are under addictions come to the gym and within a short period of time, they are clean. The gym has powers to heal it seems. The many troubles we face today in our world would be curbed if we listen more, at the gym, kids are tonight to listen to their coach at all times. MMA has now become so popular and it has millions of followers on social media, this is not just a coincidence, it goes to show how the vast majority of people now enjoy the sport, teenagers, and kids inclusive. Combat sports is now appealing to a younger audience. One thing we must note however is that combat sports at the highest level are different from the grassroots level. Don’t dissuade your children because of what you see on TV; it’s like stopping your kid from playing soccer because, at one time in the game of soccer, Zinedine Zidane headbutted Marco Materazzi. “People need to understand there are grassroots and there’s the elite level sport, which is entertainment. Turning Passion into Business Sport should not just be for entertainer alone, it can also serve as a means of gaming a few extra bucks. This is not for your kids, it’s for you reading this and trying to decide whether or not your child should take lessons, why not chill out on some online slots whilst monitoring your child’s training at the gym.