An MMA even in Moncton, N.B. is under fire from child psychologists after it featured a fight involving children as young as eight. The event which mainly featured adult exhibition matches has been criticized for both promoting violence to children and using children as a source of entertainment.
John Williams, the Canadian representative for amateur mixed martial arts has rejected the criticism insisting that the sport is safe and positive. “It’s not like the MMA you see in the movies, or what you see on TV,” he said in an interview.
He said that the children have plenty of equipment on and that there are two doctors and an ambulance on standby just in case something does go wrong. He pointed out that the sport was similar to other martial arts like Karate and that the rules of the fights had been approved by the Moncton boxing commission.
He also made the point that there are more deaths from cheerleading than there are from mixed martial arts and that the children who fight in the matches are “extremely safe”.
Child psychologist Charles Emmrys however disagrees with Williams saying that Its wrong to use violence between children as a source of entertainment. “Violence is exciting. That’s why we have action movies, they pump us up. Children should not be pumping us up by beating each other up,” he said
He points out that when children are encouraging their kids to fight they are creating potential bullies.
The debate is not a new one with the MMA community generally being split down the middle over the question of when children should become involved the sport. Many believe that if children want to become successful, like with any sport, they need to start early. Others make the case that MMA isn’t like other sports and that children should be at least 14 before they are allowed to compete.