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Mixed Martial Arts: For Children And Teens, It’s More Than A Sport

“My son has begun helping with the housework, tidies up his room, does his homework” since starting the sport, one mother says.

In the last half-decade, the practice of mixed martial arts has gained thousands of practitioners around the world.

“It is a sport where discipline gets instilled,” said Horacio López Villanueva, instructor and head coach of the MMA school Fight Club Veracruz. “It is the practice of several martial disciplines, such as kickboxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, grappling, boxing, taekwondo, karate, among other disciplines where respect to the opponent is a must.”

Parents enroll their children in mixed martial arts classes mainly for the health benefits of exercise, self-defense skills, and to boost their mental and physical dexterity.

“MMA is a complete sport, with an emphasis on the development of strength, self-esteem, and physical prowess,” said López Villanueva. “It is highly recommended for children and teenagers because it teaches them discipline and respect towards others. Thanks to leagues such as the UFC, Bellator, and Mexican leagues such as Lux, JFL, Combate Américas, the popularity of MMA has brought new practitioners to the sport.”

Mixed martial arts teaches discipline to children and teenagers. (Charlie Moron/Café Words)

Its practice includes values such as respecting others, discipline, perseverance and trust. Far from seeing it as a violent sport, parents see the enormous benefits it grants to children and teenagers.

“I enrolled my son to this discipline on a relative’s recommendation,” said Erica Buenaventura Rocha, a mother and housewife whose child practices mixed martial arts in Boca del Rio, Veracruz. “My son is 10 years old and has gained a lot of self-confidence.”

Mixed martial arts has gained popularity among children and teenagers due to the UFC. (Charlie Moron/Café Words)

The amateur level has more regulations than higher levels to take care of the younger and less experienced athletes. Protection is one of the most essential parts of the sport, with gloves, bandages and shin guards among the most used protective equipment.

It also has vast popularity among young women, who use it as a method of self-defense.

“The discipline that children gain reflects itself in an improvement at school grades and in social activities with the family,” said Buenaventura Rocha. “My son has begun helping with the housework, tidies up his room, does his homework, and, in the afternoon, sets his equipment and goes to train. The sport has become a blessing because it is helping him to build his character and interact with more children.”

(Translated and edited by Mario Vázquez; edited by Kristen Butler)

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