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MMA for kids? You’ve got to be kidding me!

The above video is a segment from Saturday’s edition of CBS’ Early Show that discussed the involvement of children in mixed martial arts. UFC president Dana White was a guest during the segment.I was watching the show in my hotel room on Saturday and when they teased it, they made no mention of White. Then the segment came on and they introduced White. My assumption was that White would come out and blast parents who allow their children to be involved with MMA fights.

Wow, was I wrong. White pretty much endorsed the idea.

How can anyone with a child endorse kids fighting? I’m not talking about having your kids training in MMA and learning technique. I’m talking about allowing them to fight.

The video below contains footage of kids fighting in a cage in Missouri and I think it’s pretty disgusting. I have an eight-year old son who trains Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on a daily basis. I’ve also let him do some boxing training as well as Karate. The idea is that he learns self-defense technique, discipline, and self-confidence. The idea is not for him to become a professional fighter. If that’s the route he wants to take in life, that’ll be his choice.

My preference is that he gets an education and studies martial arts as a hobby. It’s not that I don’t respect people who fight professionally — quite the contrary. But I know making a full-time career as a fighter isn’t easy. There’s a lot of talented fighters out there who are making no money at this. I also know the toll that the training can take on one’s body. Having a long-term career is a fighter is hardly a given. And there’s no pension plan in MMA. If you can no longer compete as a fighter, you better either have a big savings account or another career that you can pursue.

My preference also is that is that if my son does decide to become a fighter, he doesn’t start taking fights until he’s 18. I’ve allowed him to do point sparring and a grappling tournament but the idea of allowing him to take punches to the head seems like a highly irresponsible thing to do. White points out that the kids in the video are wearing safety equipment. So what!? As a former boxer, he should know that headgear only helps so much. If someone hits you with a good shot, you still feel it. And taking repeated shots? Don’t even get me started.

The last thing I’d ever want for my son or any other child is for them to be punch drunk by the time they are 16. Dana says people just don’t understand the sport and that it’s no different than Kung Fu or Karate. Well, I’ve taken both and I can tell you there’s a big difference between point sparring with no contact to the head and a fight where contact to the head is illegal as well as submissions. And amateur boxing? Again, so what. I’d never let my son compete as a boxer before he’s legally an adult. To put your child in a position where they are taking repeated blows to the head while their brain chemistry is still developing should be grounds for child abuse.

It should be illegal for anyone under the 18 to compete in a mixed martial arts fight. If someone is 16 and they are emancipated, there should be an exception made because they are legally an adult and should be allowed to decide what’s best for themselves. But under no other circumstance should a minor fight MMA. If they want to train and learn technique — I’m all for it. But what is the point in having kids fight? It seems like the Little League syndrome where a bunch of failed athletes force their kids to play a sport in hopes of living vicariously through them. And before you point the finger at me, my son asked to take BJJ because he saw my wife and I do it. I’ve never pushed him towards it and the day he wants to stop, he can stop. But with parents who allow kids to compete in MMA matches, it just reeks of some guy who loves to watch the UFC and wants to be a fighter but is too old so he’s pushing his kid to do it. And if you happen to be a parent with a child that you allow to fight, shame on you.

Kids training in martial arts? Great idea! But kids fighting in MMA is one of the worst ideas I have ever heard and for White to actually get on national television and support it is a complete joke.

  • Bucco says:

    I think just goes to show how Dana Whites thinks. I thinks he has done the sport wonders and is responsible for putting the sport to the level that its at but sometimes I think that he should stay in an office somewhere and stop doing these 30 second bits about MMA. Its not like doing that crappy morning show was good publicity. It may come back and bite him in the ass. A lot of these interviews he does are pointless and he should stop doing them. Plus the idea of kids fighting MMA is ridiculous.

  • […] Caplan has the find and the analysis over at As a huge fan of the sport (and a parent) I tend to agree with his […]

  • Kelvin says:

    Hmm…for it to be considered a legitmate sport…kid’s are gonna have to be introduced to it at some point IMHO…boxing and wrestling are both contact sports in which kids take some amount of physical abuse. I think that’s Dana’s POV.

  • neijia says:

    Totally agree. Training, great. Fights, no. Out of curiousity, what modifications do they make in kids’ bjj training and tournaments for kids’ safety? Judo doesn’t allow joint locks for juniors but what about bjj? Some subset of things in tournaments does seem ok.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Kelvin, that’s a really weak statement to say in order for it to be legitimate that kids have to do it. Are you for real? If so, can you elaborate on your position? Why do kids have to compete in MMA for it to be legitimate?

    As for boxing, I think that’s wrong for kids to do too. Head gear only offers so much protection. It doesn’t provide complete immunity.

    I think wrestling is great for kids. But to compare it as an activity to kids to both boxing and MMA is weak as well. Aside from head slaps, shots to the head are illegal in amateur wrestling. Weight cutting is an issue in amateur wrestling, but otherwise, how is it harmful?

  • Jeremy says:

    Certainly seems like a risky thing to have your child do, at least to me. I would have to ask though what is the starting age on average for kids starting amateur fighting/competing? Like in boxing, and types of martial arts?

  • ranger1071 says:

    Kelvin there is a huge difference in learning technique and theory, something I have no problems with a kid learning, and have the kids get in and throw.

    I train Muay Thai with a former Thai world champion and he won’t let the little kids in the gym (one is 8 and the other is 10 I think) spar. Their bodies haven’t developed enough and the chance of injury wrecking the kids future is to high.

    To me it’s the same thing here. I don’t have kids, yet. But I am moving to St. Louis in May and there is no way in hell I’d ever let a kid of mine trade like that. It’s too risky for their future.

    No way.

  • clint notestine says:

    I wouldn’t care if my kid, if I had a kid, fought in MMA fights but only as long as they were wearing head gear, no elbows were allowed and they had properly trained ref… preferable not Herb Dean. Id rather see kids under 14 playing MMA that football or soccer since both of those can be pretty dangerous, far more than MMA. But then again I’m bias since I don’t really like any other sports except rally racing and kids that young can’t drive.

  • Rich S. says:

    well, i have no problem with kids learning JJ.. or wrestling.. and those things could get them careers in fighting later on down the road even.. but as for them fighting WHILE STILL KIDS.. it’s pretty ridiculous.. i mean.. people break bones.. and suffer other injuries.. these kids could even get concussions.. there’s nothing wrong with kids taking lessons and learning fighting styles [i mean, there are pro’s right now that started training when they were 8, 9, 10 years old (like Joe Lauzon, Nick Diaz, and most of the Gracies, now)] but fighting should be out of the question at such young ages..

    i know over in Thailand they have those “kid” Muay Thai matches.. i thought that was pretty messed up too..

    i mean, if you want your kid to fight… train him in his youth, but don’t make him fight in his youth..

  • BJJDenver says:

    Kids competing in mma with modified rules, pads and protection, at equal skill levels, in a local karate tournament style, after a certain age (like 8 or 10) fine. No amateur or pro fights with standard rules until they are 18.

    I agree with Sam completely about training in the arts, but actually, full on fighting…NO WAY.

    However, if mma is to be accepted as a mainstream sport, there should be an acceptable level of competition, along the lines of what I described above.

    A while back there was a video of a fight between two kids under the age of 10, in either Arkansas or Alabama, at a local mma show. Standard rules, no extra protection and the drunk crowd going berserk. Absolutely stomach churning, imo.

  • Rich S. says:

    clint, that was a funny herb dean comment.. but other than that.. i don’t see your logic.. football may be dangerous.. but not so much in the pee-wee leagues.. same goes for soccer..

  • Sam Caplan says:

    BBJDenver, someone e-mailed me that video and asked me to speak out against it. At the time, I refused to because I didn’t want to give that kind of video any attention whatsoever and contribute to kids fighting each other getting any kind of exposure. But after seeing a report on it on national TV, I felt the topic became open season.

    But the video you are referring to is absolutely disgusting.

  • Davey D says:

    In Thailand, kids start Muay Thai at age 4. Kids around the world start boxing between 4 and 6. Even though there is no striking in BBJ, one wrong move and a child could get hurt. What is the difference with MMA?

    I feel that if these children are actually fighting, they should wear pads for their head, shins and chest when training and competing. Every dojo out there does things a little different so it’s really up to the instructor as to how they’re going to train their students. But, if they are competing, all ages under 17 or 18 should wear proper training gear in my opinion.

    Marital Arts have been around for ages. MMA is a place where one can use various stlyes of Marital Arts, Wrestling, BJJ, etc. and really put their skills to the test. It’s a great feeling to have a challenge in front of you and an even better feeling if you can overcome those feats.

    If these kids train their whole lives and get into the UFC or elsewhere. Then all their years of training will have paid off for them if they have 1 fight on the big stage or become the next Chuck Liddell.

    Remember, we live in a world where children are shooting rocket launcher’s at 8, 9, 10 years old. A kid who is training and preparing for a real MMA fight for over ten years on his own accord seems a lot less violent to me than a kid who is forced into living the life of Rambo before he’s five feet tall.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Davey, I think a lot of your arguments are weak.

    Kids taking repeated blows to the head in boxing, being sold to camps in Thailand at ages 5 or 6 just so they can eat, and kids fighting wars are all wrong. I’m not speaking out against kids doing Muay Thai and kids fighting wars because those are different cultures.

    You can train until you’re 18 and not fight before then and still POSSIBLY become the next Chuck Liddell. Having fights under your belt before you are 18 isn’t going to be the difference.

    As far as BJJ is concerned, there are big differences. Some schools and tournaments do not allow submissions while others allow them, but stop the match or a rolling session as soon as it is locked (they don’t give the kids the option of tapping). I’m sure broken bones have happened in kids MMA, but broken bones can heal. To my knowledge, there isn’t much you can do for brain trauma. I’ve met a few punch drunk boxers over the years and their conditions never improved and progressively got worse with age.

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    Let’s look at some empirical data before we decide whether we’re outraged. For example, what are the injury rates for kids in sports like motocross, snowboarding, skateboarding, football, etc. as compared to martial arts training or boxing? I realize there won’t be as much info on MMA with kids because this is a new phenomenon, but you could look at boxing. You could also look at the inuries for adults in MMA for some comparison.

    Frankly, I’d be a hell of lot more worried about my kid on a motorcycle or an ATV than in MMA. Most people would be surprised to learn how many young people, especially boys and young men, wind up paralyzed and/or permanently brain damaged from those things.

  • slimm says:

    kids learning technique is a great idea, for me i think that slow (conuter movement) sparring should start until 12 or 13 imo, i started in martial arts at a young age and started full sparring at around 10 with locks, kicks puches and my joints grind and pop but whatever…. whether it is BJJ muay thai aikido or any other disiplines i have trained in i dont think that childeren should be exposed to locks, chokes, until they have the background knowledge of learning the true technique behind their moves, headgear doesnt defend against a armbar or triangle choke…..
    kids should train just not have full contact matches before 16~18 no matter how talented, yet they also should have the proper padding

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    You know, this could be a real marketing tool for UFC. “The Ultimate pee-wee Fighter.” Couldn’t you just see Dana leaning down into some eight year old asking “Do you wanna be a f—ing fighter?” Priceless.

  • Paul Hanna says:

    I would MUCH rather have my children playing video games on the couch than getting punched in the face.

    I am a huge MMA fan and not so much of a fan of Dana White, this just ads to my distaste of him.

    Let kids do BJJ, let kids Wrestle, but for goodness sake do not let them strike! Kids bones are no stronger than balsa wood, and even if it does not affect them at this stage in life, they run a risk of becoming punch drunk ESPECIALLY wile there minds are still growing and developing.

    This takes MMA back to the dark ages for sure. If this is not child exploitation I do not know what is.

    Its barbaric to say the least.

  • Derek B. says:

    Disgusting to see the young kids doing that. 16 and up is my rule. If you are 16+ you should be able to compete. I wish they had MMA as a sport in high school…I would have done that in a heart beat.

  • Paul Hanna says:

    IMO chokes are much less of a danger than shin kicks to the head…

    Good lord I hope this is illeagl in Florida.

    Comparing this to other dangerous activities is a silly way of looking at it. Just because you run more of a risk on a motorcycle than in a cage doesn’t mean the cage is safer.

    You need to think long term for the welfare of children. I know how much my father and mother care about me and if they had put me in a cage at 6!? How could watch a kid GnP’n another 6 year old??

    If I am not mistaken, 6 is First Grade. First Grade. These kids dont even know there is a big world outside of there own state. All they know is “Daddy wants me to fight…So I’m gonna fight”

    Can you imagine the pressure to use steroids in a child circuit? This needs to be banned STAT.

  • Sam Cupitt says:

    I guess Dana White is all for the minor leagues.

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    No. 20 Actually, it’s silly to make strong statements without any data to support your position. If the activity is as dangerous for kids as you assume, it shouldn’t be hard to find. And if you find the data, you’ll be able to lobby your state legislature for a ban, it that’s your desire. But charging out without any preparation puts you in the position of being shot down by a better informed and better prepared opponent. Sorta like MMA itself. Preparation and training, grasshopper.

  • Davey D says:

    Sam, I believe that most of things I spoke of are pretty darn close to being factual. How could they be weak?

    This is a very touchy subject here and you say my points are weak? Thanks a lot Sam for speaking your part but I think you should say something better than just “your arguments are weak”. You should keep an open mind when it comes to subject as complex as this is. You see, there are just so many different combat sports in this world. There is good & bad in all of them.

    In your last paragraph you spoke of brain trauma and boxing. It’s sad to see things like that happen to people like Ali, he was one of if not the best boxer ever. But, he choose that life for himself. Look at alot of these NFL vet’s who can’t live a normal life because of pro football. It’s sad and they should be compensated for it somehow. But, again, that is the life they chose for themselves.

    The part about BJJ is good to know because that’s the way it should be. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Sam, do you think boxing is safer than MMA? What do you think? For the record, I don’t think so.

  • Kelvin says:

    “Kelvin, that’s a really weak statement to say in order for it to be legitimate that kids have to do it. Are you for real? If so, can you elaborate on your position? Why do kids have to compete in MMA for it to be legitimate?

    As for boxing, I think that’s wrong for kids to do too. Head gear only offers so much protection. It doesn’t provide complete immunity.

    I think wrestling is great for kids. But to compare it as an activity to kids to both boxing and MMA is weak as well. Aside from head slaps, shots to the head are illegal in amateur wrestling. Weight cutting is an issue in amateur wrestling, but otherwise, how is it harmful?”

    My POV is in ALL other legit sports….kids begin training at a early age…from boxing, football, wrestling, and even stock car driving…if we want MMA to evolve in that EVERY fighter is a complete MMA fighter…they are going to have to begin training earlier than they are now and have in the past. Now, surely the rules of the fight’s between kids should be improvised…but should it be ruled as ridiculous? I think not.

    As far as comparing it to kids wrestling…you think kid’s getting slammed and scrambling for position etc etc is THAT much more safe? I think you are just looking at this from a parent perspective…open your mind.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    LOL. Only looking at it from a parent perspective? I can only assume that by making such a statement you don’t have kids.

    Scrambling and slams can be dangerous… just like a pitched ball can be dangerous. There’s an inherent amount of danger in any sport. Injuries happen all the time. But taking punches to the head? There’s a huge difference. I’ve been slammed and I’ve been punched in the head. I’ll take a slam any day of the week as opposed to a punch to the face.

  • Kelvin says:

    “LOL. Only looking at it from a parent perspective? I can only assume that by making such a statement you don’t have kids.

    Scrambling and slams can be dangerous… just like a pitched ball can be dangerous. There’s an inherent amount of danger in any sport. Injuries happen all the time. But taking punches to the head? There’s a huge difference. I’ve been slammed and I’ve been punched in the head. I’ll take a slam any day of the week as opposed to a punch to the face.”

    Actually, I am a parent…so your argument is pretty weak here…yes, if you get in the head with headgear on you will feel it…but it’s not going to cause brain damage. As I mentioned earlier in what you forgot to read…surely rules need to be improvised but I don’t see a problem with it…so do you agree that for MMA fighter’s to evolve they need to begin training earlier?

  • Atom says:

    This subject is really going to get many people angry.
    As a parent and amateur fighter I think its terrible to see. No one should enjoy seeing kids in pain, fighting and risking their health..cos at the end of the day their bodies are fragile.
    The parents are irresponsible and must be brain dead.

    I could ‘maybe’ see a valid arguement if the kids were 16/17 in a heavily sanctioned and approved semi contact competition, but any younger just isnt on.
    You should be starting a fight career at 18, not be at the end of it….which would be the case after 10years of being hit, choked, GnP, joints hyper extended and K’O’d.

    Headguards – SO WHAT, the gloves theyre wearing arent even that big (16 0z e.g) and in other junior sports (rugby, soccer, football, cricket, judo) a broken ankle/ nose/ teeth and concussions are mistakes/accidents – NOT THE INTENTION.

    Just my 2pence worth :-)

  • Kelvin says:


    So a kid taking BJJ classes at a young age will never get choked, or arm hyper extended?

  • Derek B. says:

    this is america…not thailand or korea. Let those countries handle the kids fighting.

  • Atom says:

    #28 Kelvin
    Why be picky? of course they will, but clearly only practicing the movement and form either on dummies or eachother, always under close supervision of a responsible, qualified instructor.
    Not full force with bad intentions.
    plus the emotions involved in being slapped, thrown and fighting are totally different to training in a friendly, fun environment.

  • Kelvin says:

    “# 30 Atom

    I’m not being picky…just basically pointing out that in all forms of sports…kids participating are subject to injury…the same would be for MMA. It’s not as barbaric as everyone is making it out to be…with a proper ruleset…I don’t have a problem with it…and I’ll leave it at that. FYI, just off the top of my head these are the rules I’d go with..

    #1. No elbows anywhere or knees OR kicks to a downed opponent..not even the body/legs
    #2. All fights would be 2 rounds…3 mins each
    #3. Headgear and Shinguards MUST be worn

  • Pramit says: has written a letter/email to ABC News. I think you’ll enjoy it:


  • DocWagner says:

    I think your editorial was right on the money. Martial arts is born from defensive necessity. The recreational aspect is born from sport…this is neither.
    These children and “parents” are putting the cart in front of the horse. I would challenge that these children do NOT learn the history nor the concepts behind the techniques. This is not the evolution of the sport, but rather children ACTING AS ADULTS…this is neither responsible coaching or parenting.

    We, as parents and physicians, have seen OVER AND OVER, the results of repetitive injury on young kids. Pitchers that require surgery before adulthood, ACL replacements prior to the maturity of the skeletal system.
    Now we are expecting children to understand the brutality of an adult sport? This isn’t boxing, this isn’t wrestling, this isn’t judo or karate…this is hybrid martial arts, MMA…without the fundamental learning found in all of those martial arts.

    This video does nothing but prevent the evolution of MMA.

  • BJJDenver says:

    Parents can’t be to over-protective of their kids, that will cause as many or more problems.

    Skateboarding, ATV riding etc is on the parents solely.

    Football, basketball, baseball, hockey and such have modified rules, pad/mouthpeice regulations and so should mma. Little league baseball even has banned pitchers from throwing curveballs because of the torque on the undeveloped elbow joint.

    As for BJJ, if your kid is getting “choked out” or “hyperextended”, you may want to reconsider the school they are attending. Most academies don’t allow that in the kids programs and will ask the offending student to leave and come back when they are more mature or ready to be a good partner. And many schools won’t even teach the finishing moves until a certain level.

    Like I said previously, Sam nailed it, training and learning is good, but full-blown fighting is really disgusting.

    Also, as parents, we should all decide when it is the right time for the kids to start this activity and realize that they mature at different rates, so YOUR kid or MY kid may not be as ready as you think.

  • ufc69intx says:

    I have to agree to a point, but i also disagree, i think it should be ok as long as they are wearing protective gear, such as padded gloves, head gear, etc.etc., as an athlete from childhood into college, in sports ranging from swim team ,soccer, la crosse, wrestling, football, baseball, pretty much everything except basketball and cricket, (hahaha), i feel i had as much risk playing football as i would have in mma, head to head with a helmet is as dangerous as being punched by a kid 45 lbs to 75 lbs… i truly dont feel like damage would be done… i think most of the damage to child would be done by grappling and submissions, and their brittle little bones breaking

  • Paul Hanna says:

    Headgear doesnt cause brain trauma?

    “Headgear is used in Amateur and Olympic boxing. It effectively protects against cuts, scrapes, and swelling, but does not protect very well against concussions. Some recent studies have suggested headgear does not sufficiently protect the brain from the jarring that occurs when the head is struck with great force.”

    Nice to know my child would be safe from cuts at least…

    All sports are dangerous, but IMO kids should not be punching other kids in the face.

    And for the sport to become main stream?? Mainstream is when they have events on CBS, or VS. for free for EVERYONE to see. Not kids fighting kids.

    Everyone who sees this as a positive opportunity, why dont you stick your 6 year old in the cage. Insted of learning more at school, they can learn how shin kicks to the head feel.

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    Why are skateboarding, ATV riding etc. “on the parents solely”, and not MMA, especially if the skateboarding, ATV riding, etc. are proven to have caused more injuries? Whether you restrict an activity for kids shouldn’t be on the basis of a visceral reaction or a vague sense that it is or isn’t mainstream. Shouldn’t the test be the demonstrable risks?

  • Rich S. says:

    this really is sick..
    i mean, these kids are fighting at ages where they don’t even know what’s going on in the world.. i mean, it’s almost like they are being brought up like robots..
    and to the people who make the arguement that training and fighting are the same thing.. that’s ridiculous..
    there’s a difference between rolling with your partners.. and getting in a cage.. and getting hit in the face repeatedly..
    oh..and to the people who think that MMA at such a young age is less dangerous than football, or soccer..
    i played soccer for over 8 years.. in soccer, you take falls, and you get hit in the body, and perhaps the head every now and then.. but it’s not the same has some one punching you..
    and football.. yeah, people get concussions, people break bones and suffer injuries in football.. but the bottom line is.. in an MMA fight.. with the exception of a 10 sec. KO.. you’re going to the hospital afterwards.. you may not have broken your arm, etc.. but there is ALWAYS damage done..

  • Tommy says:

    Sam, wrestling is still just as bad for kids. You have to consider the locks cranks slams and everything else on a young body and developing bones. Personally I don’t see much of a problem with it. From baseball to football to wrestling, soccer, boxing and every other type of sport there is, kids want to do it. There’s a better chance of being slammed on his neck and hurting himself with the added force of gravity then a Child striking with the force it takes to cause any real damage. The best are always the ones that started as a young child & have done it their whole life.

  • Derek B. says:

    Tommy I did wrestling from a young age I never had any real threatening injury while doing it from 8 to 18 years old. I’ve seen a few wrestlers get their ankles broken and wrists fractured. I don’t think that wrestling is a huge threat to young kids. Plus when you are young you aren’t very strong and you aren’t able to hurl people up in the air and slam them on the ground like you are when you do high school wrestling.

  • HexRei says:

    MMA is a sport. There’s nothing wrong with training this sport from a young age, as long as it is treated like a sport and not like learning to streetfight.

    As long as trained instructors are present and the proper safety gear is used this is totally ok in my opinion. I managed to break my arm in weight training class and busted my chin open (12 stitches) jumping on the couch in the students’ lounge… kids can find ways to hurt themselves in any situation, it’s about teaching them to be safe. and mma can be safe, i haven’t actually hurt myself seriously yet in 10 months of MMA training, in basically the same period I fractured my ulna mountainbiking, then separated my shoulder joint and tore my TCL snowboarding. Trust me, if snowboarding is safe enough for kids then MMA training is also.

  • HexRei says:

    haha, i meant PCL not TCL.

  • […] Early Show recently aired a segment that uncovered the sad truth about children as young as six not only training, but competing in […]

  • Rich S. says:

    “The best are always the ones that started as a young child & have done it their whole life.”

    ya.. but.. that doesn’t mean that the best always started fighting at a real young age.. you can be just as good a fighter from training your whole life as you can from fighting your whole life.. there are plenty of world champions that trained from age 8 but didn’t fight until 18, 20, 22, etc..

    there’s nothing wrong with training in JJ, wrestling, or even boxing.. but to get in there and DO IT, at a young age, is kind of ridiculous.. i could even understand 14 or 15 years old.. but 8,9,10.. FIGHTING at those ages just seems ludicrous to me..

  • Tommy says:

    I agree Derick, I just don’t see anything wrong with boxing or mma for kids either. My point on the wrestling slam was having a kid strong enough to get you up, yet too inexerienced and slip and fall with his weight on his opponents neck. However same way the kids aren’t stong enough to seriously injure each other in wrestling I don’t think they can in kids mma. It’s not like they got a 8 yo fighting a 12 yo.
    Rich, I don’t agree. Actually doing it and pretending to are two different things. Thats a big reason why many forms of Karate suck. They just practice and spare for points so when it comes fighting time the first time they’re caught with a solid strike they go down. However give me your example of the champions that trained young but didn’t start actually fighting till they were 18.

  • Tommy says:

    Sam that’s a preference. I’d rather take a shot to the face then slammed on my head, but whatever. If you can be permantly damaged by an 8 year old, then better to find out then, then to find out by an 18 year old Belfort. I say ask Randy underappreciated Couture, BJ Penn or GSP. I bet they all think it’s good, if properly supervised.

  • BJJDenver says:

    #37, you missed my point or I made it to muddled.

    I am speaking of recreational skateboarding or ATV riding, as opposed to x-games type of regulated competitions.

    It is the parents responsibility in those cases to make sure their kids are doing appropriate activities, and then, that they are taking the proper precautions (helmets, pads, etc).

    In contrast to that, would be organized competitions, leagues and such, where all participants must follow their regulations. Example being little league baseball banning curveballs due to joint damage, or requiring players to wear chest protectors over their hearts in case of a ball striking them there and stopping the heart.

    I wasn’t trying to isolate those sports, just using them as examples.

  • Mike says:

    Having kids fight at 6 years old shows how ignorant most mma fans are. The idea that someone can train for a few months and then be ready to fight in an mma match is misguided in my opinion whether they are 6 or 26. Kids should be training and learning techniques under the supervision of an experienced instructor who can stop things if they are getting out of hand. I think there should be some level of competition for kids but it would need to be heavily modified. Additional padding on the feet and shins, no elbow or knee strikes, no striking to the head, no striking while on the ground, and restrictions on some submissions. I would not suggest this type of competition for anyone under the age of 12. Do you really think under the age of 12 that kids will know enough technique to actually get something out of the experience? MMA is not all about being strong and physically overpowering someone. Yes there are fighters who have that approach and are relatively successful but the point in having kids train is to teach them technique and how to apply that technique in a match. Hopefully someday there will be enough fighters who have been training since they were kids that we won’t have to watch the latest college wrestler who spent 18 months training MMA and knows 3 submissions and 2 punches learn on the job.

  • […] Caplan has the find and the analysis over at As a huge fan of the sport (and a parent) I tend to agree with his argument that MMA fights and […]

  • Ronin says:

    Completely agree with you and shocked Dana supports these kind of events.
    Wait till some kids gets killed on a playground from a RNC, the media will be all over the UFC and will replay Dana’s comments over and over again.

  • BJJDenver says:

    You know, as I have thought about this, something struck me.

    Most of the people I train with or view fights with, won’t even let their kids WATCH mma events.

    When I go to a live event, I have seen very few “kids” there, especially pre-teens. And I don’t go to events at bars, only actual sports venue shows.

    I don’t really feel one way or the other about this, but if I had to pick, not allowing them to watch would probably feel more comfortable.

    I just thought it was kind of funny that we are discussing kids fighting mma, when I have seen very, very few actually viewing it.

  • Kelvin says:

    “Wait till some kids gets killed on a playground from a RNC, the media will be all over the UFC and will replay Dana’s comments over and over again.”

    They could play it all they want…shit Dana wasn’t endorsing fights on a playground…some kids could do that shit right now.

  • Rich S. says:


    “Rich, I don’t agree. Actually doing it and pretending to are two different things”

    i do believe that was the point i was trying to get across..
    training and fighting ARE two different things and that’s why i don’t feel 8-10 year-olds should be fighting..

    and some examples of champions that didn’t start until 18 or later:

    Nick Diaz – BJJ Black Belt and former WEC and IFC champ..
    “After years of practicing various combats sports and martial arts, Diaz became a professional mixed martial arts fighter in 2001 just after his 18th birthday” —- he originally started training because he was getting bullied in school.. look at him now..

    Jake Shields – BJJ practitioner, former Shooto World Champion, current EXC WW champion.. he began wrestling at the age of 9.. and started training BJJ in college.. but didn’t have an MMA fight until the age of 20..

    … and there’s plenty more..

  • Jiu-Jitsu Guy says:

    As I have said before, White needs to STFU. I don’t respect him.

  • Rich S. says:

    oh, and a few things i just love about this video..

    first of all.. the guy who’s talking about how the kids are protected.. isn’t convincing at all.. he’s like “ya, man, the kids are safe, i mean, they got headgear, and, you know, headgear..”

    and what about at the 2:35 mark.. the kid falls to the ground and taps immediately.. but it didn’t seem like an effective shot even landed.. i mean, that should show the ridiculousness of kids fighting.. plus, he rolled over and landed on his back and clearly looked like he was in pain.. i mean, do parents and event-goers really want to see that stuff from a six-year-old CHILD??

    oh.. and i LOOOOVED how as soon as Dana said “these kids are wearing headgear” it showed the little black kid in the inverted triangle WITHOUT HEADGEAR!!!

    ohhh man.. there’s sooo many things wrong with this video..

  • Tommy says:

    As far as Diaz goes he was fighting long before his 18’th birthday. Just a horrible example to point out a guy who started getting in fights in grade school and has had more unprofessional fights then pro ones. No headgear, gloves, refs, rules or anything else. Jake was doing competition wrestling from a young age. Not just practice and training. Again not the greatest example of someone who Only trained and never fought at a young age.
    Can you look hard and find people, yeah. Most of the best though, have been doing it since they were very young.

  • Rich S. says:

    indeed, jake shields had a whole lot of wrestling matches.. but.. no MMA..

    and as for Diaz.. he may have been in plenty of streetfights, if that’s what you’re talking about.. but i gave you what you asked for, and that was a world champ that didn’t fight MMA before the age of 18..

  • Mike says:

    Tommy, no one said kids shouldn’t be sparring and rolling. Training doesn’t only include standing in a room by yourself going through the motions.

  • Tommy says:

    That’s really not what I asked for but whatever. My point on your examples is they had plenty of combat experience before fighting mma. A sport evolves over time. MMA has evolved over time. Yesterdays pioneers can’t match the well rounded technique and skill of todays best. Why? Training, incorcorperating all effective combat skills and actually doing it. No different then how this is true now, it will be true tomorrow. The people that grew up practicing it from a young age today, will be light years ahead of what we see in the cage today.
    I agree Mike, but it’s a huge disadvantage to have all this training and skill and yet never been hit in the face, again a big reason why karate practioners can’t fight. You grow up Bruce Lee to get in your first real fight/match, your chin says your PeeWee Herman. Or you can’t get out your skillset because you keep flinching and blinking from having someones fists punch you in the face over and over again. I agree with ametuer boxing and I’m not offended at all over kids in mma. I just can’t seem to get scared of an 8 yo kid, with gloves on, while the other kid (the same age and size) with headgear on, is gonna strike so hard as to cause his opponent permenant damage. I know grown men that can’t hit that hard.

  • Tom Biggins says:

    Theres no way kids under the age of 13 should even come close to even sparring for mma.

    I don’t think anyone under 16 should participate in an event, thats with parental consent after a thorough breifing. But of course, teens are going to mimick it, but little kids…no.

    I just can’t see tiny tim at the age of 7 say daddy, I want to do that ufc stuff. Well, I can see it, but the kid would settle for a pair of boxing gloves and he could play with his dad or something…it’s not like the kid is going to complain.

    “But daddy! I can’t pull off a gogo with boxing gloves on!”…no…the kid will not say that. haha

    I too have seen a few children mma matches, and at that young of an age…it’s pretty sick in the head to think that some kids parents are allowing that.

    I say 16 needs to be the age to start…definately not 6…that is idiotic and thats an understatement.

  • HexRei says:

    the amount of OMGZ SAVE TEH CHILDRENS!!!! replies here is laughably enormous.

  • Rich S. says:

    well, hexrei, i think the amount of “let the kids duke it out!” comments is rather ridiculous also..

  • HexRei says:

    Rich, re: your earlier comments, training submission grappling sans strikes while wearing headgear doesn’t make much sense. a triangle is totally different when worked on a guy wearing headgear, and since strikes aren’t an issue headgear isn’t necessary.
    i don’t see what the big issue is, i and a lot of other kids did karate and although i didnt wrestle i know lots of people who did. It’s not that different. the gist of the positive comments i read here were in favor of training with safety gear under educated professional instructors. there were six year olds in my karate class.

  • Rich S. says:

    “training submission grappling sans strikes while wearing headgear doesn’t make much sense”

    i don’t remember touching on that..

    i don’t think i mentioned having a submission match with headgear..

  • THORAZINE says:

    MMA for kids IMO depends on rule changes. EX: disallowing knee blows, elbow strikes, shorten mintues per round, a point system that would end the fight instead of letting it continue… referee must end a bout if a submission is secured versus waiting for a kid to tap out or if GnP has reached a dominating mode, removing the cage and just using a mat. Something along these lines to make it safer. I don’t think the idea of MMA competition is all bad for kids, it’s the rule changes they must put in place to make it safer and more acceptable on top of the protective gear.

    Should grade school kids be allowed to do this?…. IMO, definitely not in it’s current state of competition rules.

    Am I going to catch shit from all of you for saying this?…lol I assume so.

  • Atom says:

    This is a good debate. :-).

    I think everyone has a good arguement, but most seem to be split between discussing the video clip above (past) and the rather different matter of how MMA training/competition should be for kids.

    Im sure as fans / parents we like to see kids gain the skills and knowledge of BJJ, wrestling, kicks and punches.

    Im sure not everyone here wants to see kids injured or want to pay to watch juniors MMA events.

    #33 DocWagner nips it in the bud

  • HexRei says:

    “training submission grappling sans strikes while wearing headgear doesn’t make much sense”

    i don’t remember touching on that..

    i don’t think i mentioned having a submission match with headgear..

    Well, you did say:

    oh.. and i LOOOOVED how as soon as Dana said “these kids are wearing headgear” it showed the little black kid in the inverted triangle WITHOUT HEADGEAR!!!

    maybe you were just pointing out the timing of white’s comment within the film then?

  • Donn says:

    Just want to give a nod to Mike Wolfe/Kelvin. The MMA community continues to steam roll its’ opposition with the bandwagon mentality. I believe kids should hold off(note that I said .kids. it should be the kids choice whether he likes the activity or not). A person should train and learn techniques, but not participate in actual full contact competition until atleast 16 if they decide they want to do it, given the obvious potential of damage(not just from head trauma as some of the crusaders are raving about, but other areas that are still growing that could potentially be damaged.). I would probably limit it to no strikes to the head competition, and remove the more damaging strikes such as knees/elbows as well. I don’t see the problem with light competitions/contests if the .kid. wants to do it, it’s properly supervised. The biggest risk here is damaging of joints/head trauma, so limit those areas, supervise it, and I could see light competitions, or if you don’t want to go that far, just light sparring.

    But of course, I expect this post to go ablaze in at most an hour, as any opinion not popular with the mma majority is doomed to be razed. But I’ve already given my stance, just playing Devil’s Advocate.

  • Matt says:

    Once again, after almost 70 comments, has anyone looked up the actual numbers? Is there a trail of broken munchkins left in the wake of kids mma? Should they be doing things that are safe like cheerleading, gymnastics, Football, wrestling or hockey?

    I actually did.

    In general, the Journal of Science and Sport says”

    “The findings of the present study do not provide evidence that combat sports have alarmingly high rates of injuries resulting in emergency department visits.”

    and specifically,

    “The lower knockout rates in MMA compared to boxing may help prevent brain injury in MMA events. ”

    But the rest of the literature including Children’s Hospital Boston, the CDC, Consumer Reports, Pediatrics Journal, CTSafekids, and many others have plenty to say about the dangers of gymnastics, boxing, football, hockey, basketball, and other ‘safe, traditional’ sports that people mindlessly recommend to kids on regular occasions.

    I thought this was a poorly researched, knee-jerk reaction festival of jumping to conclusions. Maybe actual research might help. I’ve linked to many of the articles I mention at my blog,

  • MMA Chump says:

    Are you kidding? Why the fuss? My friend is a boxer and when he had amateur fights, the ages went all the way down to 10 or so. Where was the fuss then?

    Now because it’s national?

  • david says:

    Honestly this is completely outrageous and stupid,
    As a parent I would never even consider MMA for kids. It promotes violence as well as agressivnes. If you want to show discipline and respect to a child the age of 4, MMA is not the way. I would honestly ban this sport for children and teens. Everything is fine and dandy until its your kid laying in a hospital table. PLEASE KEEP YOUR KIDS OUT OF THIS HORRIFIC SPORT

  • F Obrien says:

    I love the sport of MMA but this is “Child Abuse”.

    It as sick as a dog fight. And I wonder why we protect dogs better than we protect children from ignorant parents that wish to live vicariously through their kids. So much for a kinder gentler nation. Martial Art is so health for a child. MMA is like the deformed Evil twin. Age cap Please or make the parents fight it out.

  • Maurice says:

    I am 13, the video I saw was kind of sick to me, I practice mma just as training but I also hope there could be a small competition of it. When I say a competition I mean like the TKD ones or the judo a small open area, this guy put two kids on a cage and send them to fight like if they were animals in a show.

  • Leslie says:

    I feel that if your child has trained for several years and receives high academic achievements within his training, at a certain point there should be the opportunity for them to have VERY SUPERVISED fight. I have an 8-year-old son that trains every day in karate, muay-thai, ju-jitsu, and other types of MA. He goes to tournaments and fights there. He fights at his dojo’s. However, he respects what he has learned and never would he use what he has learned elsewhere. He watches the fights on PP view and wants nothing more than to be like those who fight MMA. He understands that he can seriously get hurt like the adults do. He knows that its not some ballot class, it real life and it can take you some where. Some people have said that parents live vicariously through their children. Not our case. I have never been into a fight in my life, nor do I ever want too. It scares me when my son fights at tournaments against people he/we dont know, but he wins. He does well. I feel that there are those who are weak and those who are strong. Sometimes people get hurt and sometimes they dont, either way everyone walks away with something. Also, I feel that I need to address the issue that someone brought up about people fighting dogs in comparison to children. That is the most ignorant thing that I have ever heard. For one thing, dog fighting is to the death. Most of the time the people involved are low-class, drug dealing, second class citizens gambling on who losses and who wins. The lossing dog is generally left behind or abandoned for their inability to win. I see it all the time in the Veterinary Emergency room that I work in. If juveniles are given the opportunity to participate in MMA fighting then it will be closesly monitored like any other sport, and not in an abandoned building somewhere far away from medical treatment in needed. So in short, I’m for it and would allow my son participate in it if HE so chooses to do so. Those who are adversarial to my opnions might question my cognitive ability, but I am well educated and traveled.

  • MarcusOrilius says:

    LOL – This whole issue is ridiculous… ANYBODY who thinks MMA for kids is evil, sick, wrong, etc. needs to get a grip. Like ANY contact or high-risk sport, MMA is definitely dangerous – so I hope all you “concerned” citizens have included ALL physically dangerous sports in your rantings? Rugby, football, wrestling, skateboarding, trampolines, hockey, skiing, etc. are ALL just as (if not more) dangerous than properly organized MMA. Do the research: I don’t see martial arts anywhere on there… and there are plenty of kids competing in various martial arts tournaments. MMA is just mixing various martial arts together. Are Karate or Judo tournaments evil as well?

    How many of you outraged parents let your child ride a bike or would allow them to use a trampoline? LOL – What a bunch of HYPOCRITES! The fact is simple – if you REALLY cared for the safety of children, you would be focusing your rage on the activities that really contribute to the problem you care so much about. I am way more nervous when my kids climb on the tramp or go for a bike ride than when they compete in Muay Thai or BJJ – and yes, even MMA when available. BTW, in the three years of them doing these evil and irresponsible activities, there have been no concussions, broken bones or damaged souls. And if they preferred not to compete, that choice is always theirs – after all, we don’t all have the drive to be competitive.

    Come on, just because you don’t get it or have no clue about the difference between “fighting” and a “sport”, doesn’t mean others don’t. I guess you think kids should “train” in rugby, skateboarding, riding a bike, etc without actually doing them? If so, please stay on the couch and play video games – leave the contact sports to those who are more physically inclined. Geez, no wonder the kids in the US are so fat and weak with such “responsible” parents like you…


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