The Kids Are Alright

MMA training isn’t just for adults. Let the kids have some fun.

There is an uphill battle in building youth MMA programs. Traditional martial arts like karate and taekwondo have a head start because they don’t have the underlying stigma of violence that is associated with MMA. However, the development of discipline, character, and respect are not the sole providence of traditional Asian martial arts. The realistic, competitive, and athletic nature of MMA training may be exactly what your child needs as he or she gleans discipline and respect for the arts.


• Confidence

MMA training is unlike other martial arts. First and foremost, training should take place in an athletic and challenging environment. Training should be both competitive and realistic. Students should be placed in close contact with other students. Most of the time, they learn not to be afraid or intimidated by physical contact. When coupled with MMA’s effective techniques, inner confidence can be fostered—the kind of confidence a child would need to walk away from a bully.

• Physical Development and Fitness

Starting sports at a young age is a great way to make physical fitness a priority in a child’s life. Since MMA focuses on multiple disciplines, children can receive a balanced physical education. A class might include tumbling, kicking, takedowns, and grappling. Physical attributes such as coordination, balance, speed, and agility should be worked on in every class.

• Personal Development

Classes should build on the core principles that the children are learning in school, such as paying attention, speaking in turn, social skills, discipline, and respect for yourself and those around you. Since MMA is a sport, children should learn the value of hard work and the principles of sportsmanship. In addition, sports are a great way for children to express themselves emotionally, independently, and creatively.


• Environment

Is the school clean? Is access to the children controlled? Can the parents view the classes? Do the mats and equipment appear clean and well maintained? Make sure to ask about the schools hygiene (personal and equipment) policies. Is everyone having a good time? Are the adult students kept separate from the youth students? Does the gym have an active and successful team?

• Instructors

Have all the youth instructors been properly trained to work with children? Are background checks on file? Watch how the instructors interact with the children. Are the instructors focusing on safety? Respect? Do the instructors foster creativity and independence? What is the instructor to student ratio? Does the head instructor keep control of the group and focus on the material being taught?


Everything we do in our children’s program at The HardCore Gym in Athens, GA, is built on three core principals: Alive Training, Adaptability, and Playing Games. Learning the relevant skills and techniques naturally occurs when this type of environment is fostered.

• Alive Training

Children can’t learn to swim on dry land, and they can’t learn martial arts while standing in line punching and kicking like robots. All of our training drills are built to include timing, movement, and resistance. Using proper gear and rules, our kids drill kickboxing, wrestling, and grappling in a safe environment.

• Adaptability

Because of the freedom involved in MMA training, we can switch gears as soon as the groups’ attention wanes. Additionally, we draw material from three core arts: kickboxing, wrestling, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. It’s important that the children are always engaged and challenged.

• Playing Games

Children love to play. All of our kids’ training is looked at in the context of playing. We try and build every technique and drill into a game the kids can play. Most of the time, the kids don’t even know they are doing repetitions of a certain technique. They love any game with a crazy name and adults acting goofy. By choosing small goals and disguising everything with games, we can make sure no two classes are alike.

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