The Rise of MMA at the Youth Level, & Why You Should Get Your Kids Involved.

MMA is exploding right now.

It used to be an extremely niche sport that the mainstream media viewed as too violent and disturbing. One almost felt a sense of shame being a fan of it, like you were toiling away in some sort of seedy sporting underworld.

But thats all changed. Nowadays MMA is one of the biggest sports around. It has world renown superstars, it’s biggest fights are becoming events like the old school boxing matches, it recently sold for 4 billion dollars, and it has arguably the biggest sports star in the world right now in Connor McGregor. And all that growth on the professional level, has also led to growth in youth involvement.

One of the biggest differences in todays fighters as opposed to the fighters of yesteryear, is many of them were raised with an MMA background. Before when the MMA was just getting started, the fighters often times just knew one style, and they sort of figured the rest out later. There was far less technique involved.

Take Cal Poly alum Chuck Liddell for example. He started fighting for the UFC in 1998, when the organization was still struggling for notoriety. Chuck was a good college wrestler, and could throw and take a good punch. With that being said though, his striking ability was nowhere near the quality of many fighters today. He would just go into the ring and turn every fight into a brawl. Lots of his fights would end with him and the other fighter just trading big looping haymakers, which were by no means real technical.

But that’s very much changing. You see it with many current fighters, their games are much more well rounded. They have a skill set beyond just boxing, jujitsu, or wrestling. They are true mixed martial artists. And a big reason for that, is children that grew up emulating fighters of the previous generation are now participating in the sport at a younger age.

In 2013, ESPN estimated that somewhere around 3.2 million kids are now participating in MMA. That is about the same number which participated in football at that same time. To say that MMA is now as big as football on a youth level is something I never thought I would say, but the numbers seem to lead to that conclusion. And when you add in the fact that football participation has been steadily decreasing, and MMA increasing, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to imagine that within the next couple of years MMA could overtake football in youth participation.

Now as a parent, I could see how one could have some concerns about allowing your child to get punched in the head for fun. No one likes to see someone they care about get bloodied and bludgeoned, let alone their own kid. My Nana wouldn’t even come to my high school wrestling matches because those made her uncomfortable, and there was rarely ever blood or broken bones. (I think it was because she wasn’t a huge fan of seeing me in a singlet. I can’t blame her, I looked like someone had painted a one piece bathing suit on Lena Dunham and then stuck her in the microwave.)

But look at all the upsides of having your kid in MMA.

1.) The amount of gear you have to buy is minimal. If your kid is in baseball you’ve got to make the decision between sending your son to college, or making sure he has all the newest and best equipment. It’s not out of the ordinary for a lad no older than six years old to be hauling around a bag full of hundreds of dollars of equipment. But not MMA. All you need is some gloves, headgear, a mouthpiece, and a cup, and your good to roll.

2. You get the advantage of teaching your kid to defend him or herself. You throw your kids in basketball, and some creep rolls up on them in the park, unless they can manage to cross him over and run away, they’re done. Their next call to you is from an undisclosed location. But if your kid is learning how to fight, its whole different story. Creep rolls up on them in the park, BAM! Next thing you know your kid is phoning the cops while he holds the perv in a triangle choke. Honestly now that I think about it, if you don’t put your kids in MMA, then I feel comfortable saying your a bad parent.

3. Everyone involved in MMA is always talking about how the sport “Builds Character”. I for one hate anyone who says “It builds character” or any derivative of it. It’s such a copout bullshit answer/saying. Cooking builds character, mopping floors builds character, playing with fucking legos builds character, everything you do builds character. Yet even though I say all that, there is something to be said for learning MMA. I know dopey o’l Meryl Streep may not agree, but it is an art (Its in the name: mixed martial ARTS!!!), and whenever you learn an art it takes an intense amount of dedication and effort to master. Especially with MMA. If you mess up mastering drawing you just throw away the paper. Worst case scenario you mess around and get a paper cut. In MMA if you mess up you get an elbow to the temple, and an involuntary nap. So you do attain a certain level of discipline that many other youth sports and activities don’t offer.

4. Your kid is actually playing an entertaining sport. Up until like sixth grade, watching your kids play sports is about as much fun as doing a Kool-Aid keg stand at the Jonestown compound. You can say it’s cute all you like, but at the end of the day it’s just a bunch of tiny dumb humans, playing a sport poorly. It’s especially bad if they play one of those nerd sports like soccer or basketball that requires skill. It just turns into them all fighting over the ball, and every once and a while accidentally stumbling their war into scoring a goal. I played soccer and baseball growing up, and I have no idea how my parents feigned so much interest over the years. I watch my little cousins sports now, and all it takes is about five minutes of him and his friends playing like trash for me to be done with that shit. There is almost nothing a child can do sporting wise, that is going to keep me entertained longer than a millisecond.

But once we mix fighting into the equation, the whole story changes. I will go anywhere or watch anything that involves a fight. That daycare gets the kids fighting again, I’m there. The View isn’t usually in my viewing schedule, but if you tell me Whoopie is about to throw them hands, I’m tuning in. Hell I’d go to a gay porn set if you told me that someone was gonna fight. A good fight almost always makes a situation more entertaining, so why wouldn’t you want to work it into youth sports. Imagine how much more fun you are going to have watching a bunch of six year olds trying to put each other to sleep, than watching those same kids swing and miss at a ball on a tee. Then add in the additional stakes of watching your own flesh and blood fight, and now your adrenaline is really pumping.

5. Maybe the best part about a kid learning how to fight, is now you have someone to protect yourself. Considering my eroding physical tools, my poor dietary/exercising habits, the amount of vices I have, and the overall lack of effort I put into my health, by the time I’m about 35 I wont be able to defend myself from a dandelion, let alone someone who looks to inflict some bodily harm upon me. And I don’t think I’m the only one in that boat. If we are all being realistic, we were never that tough to start with. The lack of toughness in addition to some physical and emotional wear and tear, a lack of physical upkeep, and the fact that none of us truly know what were doing in a fight, and you are now forced to face the reality that you are just as fucked as I am.

Now you toss that participation trophy for sex (Thats what @PFTCommenter  calls kids) of yours in MMA classes around 6 years old, and in about 10 years you’ve got yourself a new body guard/attack dog. It’s almost like your in the mafia and you are developing your own muscle. You go from having to defend yourself, to being back in the childhood position of being protected. It must be wonderful. And on top of that, you can now be a dick to anyone without there being repercussions. I know everyone likes to seem cool and fight there own battles and what not, but I say fighting your own battles is for the birds. If your telling me you wouldn’t love to start fights that your cage fighting kid would finish for you, then I don’t mean to use such fowl language but your taking crazy pills. If I had a kid like that, I would be taking full advantage of that perk. I would be galavanting about the town, knocking sodas out of peoples hands, kicking over hobos change cups, drawing cartoon genitalia all over peoples window shields, you name it. And then whenever some nerd would pipe up and speak out against my debauchery, I’d just have my child body guard go lay waste to him and leave his broken nerd body in the street as an example. It would be fantastic.

If all that doesn’t sway you to sign your spawn up for a little bit of sanctioned physical abuse, then I don’t know what will. In all reality, MMA really is a great sport for your kid. It will instill them with a boatload of discipline, its cheap as dirt, and there is no downside to teaching your kid to defend themselves. Do you want your kid to be some sort of spineless racquetball playing wimp? Of course not. Avoid raising the main character from “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and sign your kid up for MMA. When your kid is snapping the humerus of some guy who tried to fight you after you called him fat, you’ll be thanking me.


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