Mixed martial arts is taking over the globe with the success of the Ultimate Fighting Championship franchise, Strikeforce, and icons like Ronda Rousey and Anderson Silva becoming household names. Naturally, now your child wants to be an octagon fighter, and who can blame them? Before you jump aboard the worry train, know that your child can get hurt in any sport they participate in. Just because you allow your son or daughter to learn MMA, doesn’t mean they will compete. You have that option to navigate their path and just like any other sport, and most find it teaches their kids a much different slew of life skills than team sports.

MMA takes discipline, it’s not just a practice where you throw on a jersey and sit the bench if you’re not a decent player. Every child gets the same attention in MMA class settings, and they determine their abilities and how far they will succeed in the sport. MMA keeps kids healthy, mentally strong, and teaches the vital lesson that respect is earned. Once you’ve decided to get them enrolled in a school, make sure you look for these tips:

  • Instructors- The level of skill your child’s MMA instructor will have usually depends on the studio. Dojos for example, typically have high level karate teachers, whereas the newer MMA schools house kick boxers and those with wrestling backgrounds as well. Think of what you want your child to gain from the lessons, and look for instructors with those credentials.
  • Sanitary- Sadly, many gyms aren’t the cleanest places on the planet. If you walk in and it smells dreadful, you may want to reconsider. Gyms have come a long way since the little boxing club on the corner of a local hood; they know mats need to be mopped down, training gear sanitized, and restrooms need to be maintained properly.
  • Safety- If your child will endure parrying/sparring, (can’t imagine they won’t be?) then make sure they are wearing a mouthpiece. Are they coming home with bruises all over their shins? Get them shin guards, things to this nature that are different in every gym- some require the kids to wear guards, others don’t. Watch a few classes and see where your child may need help, such as girls having their hair tied back securely so it doesn’t keep falling in their faces. Just make some notes during the first month to aide in their progress.
  • Cost- MMA can be pretty expensive depending on where you go. Some gyms really are worth the monthly commitment, whereas others are just trying to ride off of those reputable gym’s coattails, so be wise. Research your options, and watch a class or two preferably with your child. Often they will have their own opinion on the lessons and sway your decision for or against the school. Just be certain you know what you’re paying for; is your child only permitted to attend their class level sessions? Are they allowed to come in during free mat time and practice, is there a fee for that? Ask until you have all the details.
  • Hours- Some MMA schools are looking to breed fighters, some are looking to just take your money every month, and some are giving the kids the tools to decide what they want to do with their new skills. With that said, you will come across two kinds of hours or schedules- the gyms that want the kids to come 3-4 times per week, and the ones that have a more lenient training schedule. If your child participates in other sports, you need to factor all of that in prior to signing them up for classes they won’t be able to attend.