Training Kids To Become Ultimate Fighters

Training kids to be effective in self defense is very different from teaching them to become ultimate fighters. And this isn’t just a subtle element that’s lost on those not in martial arts… it’s a major factor into determining what will be effective in self defense and what will not.

The Associated Press did a story the other day on an MMA studio in Arlington, VA that teaches kids self defense… and while there are a few things shown that I have issue with, the core of this video are right on. However I think the producers didn’t really understand the difference between sport fighting and self defense.

Here’s the video for you to watch…

The Problem With Takedowns and Sport Fighting

The first thing that came to my attention was that these kids were practicing takedowns. This is where you find a way to essentially trip or throw your opponent to the ground.

The basic idea of taking an opponent to the ground is sound – you let gravity do the work of injuring your attacker. But getting into a grappling match – which this video shows – is silly for both adults AND kids.

In an even more basic sense – takedowns are impractical for children. Takedowns are only really effective when similar body sizes are in play. When a smaller person tried to takedown a much larger person they often fail because they don’t have the relative strength to position their opponent to a point where they can use leverage effectively. In other words – the window where they have effective leverage on a larger attacker is rather small if there at all.

Kids MMA for self defenseThis is one of the key reasons jiujitsu and wrestling sports matches have weight classes. Even in MMA size matters… and often the larger person has an advantage in reach and strength.

In contrast we teach our kids that there are quicker and more effective self defense tactics that they can use to cause enough injury so that they can remove themselves from that situation. The nice thing is that they don’t have to think about whether this bully is too big for them to grapple with or if there are two or three of them.

Head Injuries Beware

Head injuries are a very serious issue and it’s the light being shed on concussions throughout scholastic sports is well placed. Kicks and punches to the head and falls that cause a head impact can be serious. This is where any sparring that allows intentional full contact to the head should be avoided. However the head is a legitimate target in self defense… in fact there are close to 20 targets on the head that can sustain very threatening injuries beyond just a concussion.

In our self defense training we teach all of our students – including our kids – that strikes to critical targets can have very debilitating effects. They learn when and only when it is appropriate to strike those targets. To put any target off limits is irresponsible from a self defense perspective.

In our school we train with safety in mind. We use the appropriate safety equipment and limit full out person on person sparring. In fact we don’t free spar or point spar at all. We have adapted training methods from military combatives that allow our students to train the various aspects (technique, speed, power) of our curriculum without unnessesary injury. Do bruises happen? Yeah, sometimes. But we’ve never had a serious head injury as a result of the way we train.

Come join us…

If you want your child to have more confidence in the world they are growing up in give us a call. We would love to have you stop by our New Albany studio to watch a class and talk with some of the kids and parents that attend our school.

About Mr. Vatke

Mr. Vatke has studied and practiced martial arts for over 20 years. The quest for a practical self defense based system led him to Dynamic Self Defense. Mr. Vatke holds a 2nd degree Black Belt and is the Chief Assistant Instructor at the New Albany Dynamic Self Defense School.

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