Children in Mixed Martial Arts

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Ryan Gordy
Professor Howell
English 110-108
Research Paper: Final Draft
29 November 2011
 Most children are introduced to a variety of activities during their childhood, with youth sports being the most commonly participated activity. Parents sign their children up for youth sports in order for their children to stay physically active and meet other kids of their own age.  However, not all activities are considered suitable by society for children to engage in.  Understandably, most parents prohibit their children from participating in activities that would expose them to unnecessary amounts of danger and violence.  However, those children are also prohibited from participating in activities that are wrongfully associated with danger and aggression due to the activity’s poor reputation.  A prime example is Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), which most people view as a sport filled with injuries, violence, and aggression. However, studies show that MMA can be safe, assist in character development, and improve the academic performance of its youth practitioners.  Parents should give their children the opportunity to compete in MMA because of the variety of benefits associated with MMA.  The first misconception held by society is that MMA is a barbaric and unsafe sport.  MMA’s violent reputation is the product of early marketing strategies for MMA events, which were advertised as “brutal, no-holds-barred tournaments with no time limits, no weight classes, and few rules” (Bledsoe, et al. 136).  Advertisements filled with blood and gore led the public to perceive MMA as “human cock fighting”, which is a first impression that MMA has been unable to shake off  (Bledsoe, et al. 136). MMA has added several rules and regulations since its introduction in 1993 such as weight classes, round systems, and mandatory gloves (Bledsoe, et al. 139).  The new rules and regulations enforced in MMA have resulted in a much safer environment for Mixed Martial Artists to compete in (Bledsoe, et al. 139).  Safety regulations in MMA have taken place both during competition and during practice.  During competition,  Mixed Martial Artists are required to wear mandatory gloves and fight in specific weight classes with a timed round system just like boxing and other combat sports (Bledsoe, et al. 139).  MMA also utilizes the tap-out rule, which allows either athlete to end the contest if they feel that they are in danger via a physical or verbal tap (Bledsoe, et al. 139). The tap-out is the second most common method of ending a bout, which greatly reduces the number of injuries suffered by Mixed Martial Artists since they are able to end a match before they suffer an injury (Bledsoe, et al 140).  Referees and ringside Physicians are also present during each MMA match in order to to further ensure the safety of Mixed Martial Artists (Bledsoe, et al. 139). During competition, both the referee and the ringside Physician have the authority to stop a match at any time in order to protect the competitors from unnecessary harm (Bledsoe, et al. 139). Several additional safety precautions are taken in order to protect Martial Artists during training because most of a Martial Artist’s time is spent in practice.  Gloves, body padding, mouth guards, and headgear are a few types of equipment utilized by Mixed Martial Artists in order to protect themselves during training (Woodward 42).  Many MMA schools also limit the amount of sparring that it’s practitioners are allowed to take part in, especially beginning Martial Artists with limited experience (Woodward 42).

The results of the measures taken to protect Mixed Martial Artists from harm are so effective that even doctors have acknowledged how much safer MMA has become.  Trauma surgeons at Canada’s busiest trauma center, Foothills Medical Center, claim that they have “yet to admit an MMA combatant” (Ball and Dixon 2).  The doctors believe that based on injury rates, MMA is a safer activity than other sports that...
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