The Surprising Benefits of Mixed Martial Arts for Kids (and Dads)
There was a time when boxing was the ultimate combat sport, and really the only one, that fathers would enroll their sons into lessons for. Who knows for certain when it began, but there is evidence that boxing matches were present in Egypt as far back as 3000 BC. There were boxing lessons being taught to adults and children and gladiator-type matches held for the public to witness even back then.
This was just the beginning for fathers and their sons appreciating the sport together. For instance, many of us can remember huddling around the television and cheering on our favorite heavyweight boxers with our fathers and even our grandfathers. It was a family affair. The popularity of the sport was literally passed down from generation to generation. To be able to say we signed our sons up for boxing lessons back in the day brought about a sense of pugilistic pride.
Amateur wrestling, of course, was available as well for those that were interested in participating, but not nearly as popular for the viewers and the would-be participants. It just didn’t hit home in popularity for many fathers and their children back in the day. After all, not long ago, people would only really pay any attention to amateur wrestling when it came around in the Olympics. Once the Olympics were finished, even the gold medal winners in wrestling struggled to survive within the sport as there was just not an opportunity to make a living with their grappling talents. Even Kurt Angle, the Olympic gold medalist from the 1996 Olympics, had to take a sportscaster job with a small local television station just to survive financially immediately after winning his gold medal (with a broken neck). Amateur wrestling, at the time, was just not connecting with the ordinary public.
Then you had karate, jiu-jitsu, and various other types of martial arts that adults and children would dabble in. These were very popular in certain regions of the country, but it was difficult to find a place to train at and a coach that was highly respected enough that people would come from miles around. You might have a karate studio in a town twenty miles away, but at the time, the enrollment was almost certainly low.
The Moment It Changed
If you go back two decades ago, mixed martial arts was just a fringe sport that did not receive too much attention other than the wrong kind. It was considered too barbaric and classless as men of all sizes would have matches that were often less art and more caveman. The times have definitely changed though!
Mixed martial arts (MMA) has brought all the combat sports together and basically combined them into one. Of course, UFC is currently the most popular of the MMA events and its popularity has grown so much that it has arguably eclipsed even boxing. While the pay per view numbers for both boxing and UFC mainly depends on the main event, UFC is more than holding its own right now with the latest bout of Connor McGregor versus Donald Cerrone garnering over one million buys (closer to two million buys when factoring in the new ESPN+ subscribers). In comparison, boxing’s Tyson Fury versus Deontay Wilder had an estimated 850,000 people purchasing the pay per view.
Children and Combat Sports
In any case, with the changing times, fathers are not automatically enrolling their sons into boxing. They are looking at the whole mixed martial arts world as if they are creating a well-rounded fighter that knows as many of the disciplines as possible. On top of that, it is not only for sons any longer. Daughters are taking a huge interest in MMA as well.
It is hard to gather all the numbers of boys and girls taking MMA classes as basically all combat sports can fall into this category, but there is a greater interest now than ever before. In fact, if you started asking other fathers how many of them have their children in MMA classes, you might be surprised at just how high the numbers are.
And It Is Not Just the Children
A funny thing happens when fathers take their children to their first MMA class. The fathers themselves end up enrolling as well after witnessing the training firsthand. It has happened to us all. Not even Zack and Slater are immune to it. Mark Paul Gosselaar and Mario Lopez both signed up for classes after their kids became interested in the sport. Mr. Belding better be able to protect himself.
Benefits of Children Taking MMA Classes
There are numerous benefits for children taking MMA classes. The key is to introduce them to it while they are still young, perhaps eight to ten years old, for it to really become a positive part of their lifestyle that will stick with them even through adulthood. And for all of you fathers out there taking MMA classes with your kids, these benefits are not limited to the children.
To say many children are lacking discipline nowadays is an understatement. Of course, much of this comes from parenting, or more likely, a lack of parenting. If children are involved in MMA, you can bet there will be discipline involved in each class and, hopefully, it will carry over throughout their lives.
Much of the time, bullying happens to children because they can’t physically defend themselves. Now I am not saying to greet a bully with a triangle choke, but by letting them know they can defend themselves, the bullies will think twice.
Remember back in the old days when kids would be polite and say, “Yes, sir” and “No, sir”? A good MMA coach will have them learning to respect all others in no time.
Health and Fitness
MMA involves constant movement and a whole lot of exercise. If your children are in MMA classes, they are not in front of the couch eating cookies and drinking soda while binging Netflix.
Children that know how to defend themselves will be more open to speaking their mind when it is appropriate. Rather than going with the crowd, kids involved in MMA will have the self-confidence to speak up when needed. For instance, we often see these videos of people getting mugged or attacked and the bystanders will just take out their phone to film it instead of helping the victim. Children that are raised knowing MMA will be more likely to assist the bystander rather than putting a video up on YouTube later on.
Quality Bonding Time
Raise your hand if you and your father never really spent any real bonding time together. Not to sound like I should go into therapy or anything, but I never played catch with my father or shot baskets. Furthermore, we have watched two movies together our whole lives and never really had a conversation last more than five minutes. I’m not saying he was a bad father at all, but we just never spent the time together. Don’t let this happen to you.
MMA classes once or twice a week will bring you and your child closer together. Not only are you learning something together, but it gives you a good starting point to have a more meaningful relationship. This can be just the beginning of the two of you becoming best friends.