Thursday, September 22, 2011

It Makes Me Fighting Mad


A video of two eight-year old British boys cage fighting has gone viral. The children were not wearing protective padding or head gear as they grappled in front of a large adult audience. Cage fighting, or mixed martial arts (MMA,) is the fastest growing adult sport in the world.

Former presidential candidate John McCain famously called such events "human cockfighting." I agree.

Wikipedia describes MMA as "a full contact combat sport that allows the use of both striking and grappling techniques, both standing and on the ground, including boxing, wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Karate, Judo and other styles."

Children as young as four are being encouraged to participate by parents whose credentials for parenthood should be revoked, in my opinion.

The British culture minister, Jeremy Hunt, condemned the match as "barbaric," but Nick Hartley, the father of one of the boys, insisted that his son was not in any danger. "He loves the sport. It's not one bit dangerous, it's a controlled sport. He likes to do it, he's never forced to do it, he wants to do it, so leave him to do it," Hartley told the BBC. "Until he gets a bit older and he starts doing physical contact, kicking and punching, then maybe, but at his age it's wrestling, like grappling." Lancashire police said it had "looked into this matter fully and there are no issues for us to pursue"

Chris Cloke, head of child protection awareness at children's charity NSPCC, said: "We would strongly discourage parents from letting their children take part in this kind of fighting. It's quite disturbing that some of those involved in the bouts were as young as eight, an age when they are still developing, physically and mentally. The organisers of these activities should think very carefully before allowing children to be involved when they are egged on to inflict violence."

The sport's violence has provoked controversy everywhere. It's illegal in New York and Connecticut but in Tennessee, where it is popular, boys fight boys, girls fight girls, and sometimes boys fight girls while their moms cheer them on. Christie Hawkersmith, the wife of a fighting gym's owner in Winchester, Tennessee, insists there are strict safety precautions for kids in mixed martial arts bouts.

"Under 18, they cannot punch to the face, it's not an all-out brawl. They learn skills and they try to master those skills," she said. Her husband added that the kids learn discipline and self-esteem, and that people who think mixed martial arts too violent for youngsters are ill informed."It's a proven fact that football has more injuries, and more severe injuries, than [mixed martial arts] by far," said owner Bunny Hawkersmith.

Four-year-old twins Danika and Nyomi Arellano are already seasoned competitors. When they are not in the cage at Bunny's gym, they like to take part in beauty pageants. It's a split decision on which type of event they prefer.

"Pageant," said Danika.

"MMA," said Nyomi.

And what is their mother's view of the controversial sport? Rita Arellano admits she has mixed emotions when she sees her daughters fight. "Deep inside yeah, it's like, Uhhh! It's hard to see your kid. You want them to win, but you don't want to see them get hurt."

One of the top three movies this past weekend was the mixed martial arts film Warrior, starring Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte. Is the moribund economy causing a general increase in violence, or have we devolved into a society that really doesn't care about others? We still have states endorsing and even celebrating the death penalty, and in a presidential debate last week, the audience cheered loudly for those without medical insurance to be allowed to die.

What manner of self esteem is instilled by training young children to maim other young children? Is this really the kind of world we want our children to inhabit? Really?

18 comments:

Taradharma said...

hmmm...the fall of the Roman Empire comes to mind. I had no idea this was going on.

When my older daughter was in junior high, she joined the wrestling team. A very controlled sport. But it was difficult for me to watch her in matches -- the boys didn't cut her any breaks (nor should they) and she got a bloody nose a couple of times. She did it to prove she could. The training and workouts were rigorous and really pumped her up mentally and physically. But boy was I glad when she didn't join up the next season.

This mixed-stuff seems devilishly bent on providing child blood-sport for the entertainment of adults. It is completely mad. If you want to build a child's self-esteem and physical prowess, why not traditional martial arts which doesn't have this quasi-prurient interest component?

the walking man said...

I have to go with the devolved school of thought. I believe that the world has been in general at war for so long now and the population grown so huge that people who used to be able to live in peace and make a living that at least let them relax a little has become a place where the general idea of violence between countries has now infected the individual psyche as a rational solution. If you can't earn it take it.

The MMA "sport" is nothing more than a way for a few to make that dollar and if they can legally get away with entertaining adults using children there is no more moral code within those adults to not view or pay for a ticket to it. This is not like these kids are training for the Olympics which takes years of disciplined effort but rather they are fighting for a purse or a trophy and in the end learning how to fight without mercy. Trust me that type of ideology in a fight only leads to rough consequences.

I am a fine one to talk, I have broken every knuckle on both of my hands and it took me 2.5 decades to stop but then I learned I had more power with my mouth and life experiences than any physical fight I engaged in.

We can educate these kids to think or fight and I wish to the powers that be that I had been educated in the former much sooner.

Paula said...

Although aware of cage fighting, I had no idea that this activity existed for children. How horrible. Parents have a responsibility to socialize children and, IMO, teach them to avoid physical violence until they have absolutely no choice left and must defend themselves. You're right---their parenting license should be revoked!!

Jo said...

I believe that human beings, left to their own devices, always resort to the lowest common denominator. We have to work very hard to rise above it. A huge percentage of the population is very base, and that is how they raise their children.

Those kids don't stand a chance. They are already learning how to be rough and low-class. And parents who can't see that is what they are doing to their children, are people who are also rough and low-class.

It's very sad.

msprimadonna67 said...

Honestly, I can't even begin to fathom a parent sending his or her young child down this path.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Tara,

It's really disgraceful for people to encourage such violence in their children, which serves no purpose but to predispose them to become abusive, violent and overly competitive adults. I hadn't considered the prurient aspects, but suspect you're right.

Mark,

Something in me retains the idea that as a species, we should be evolving, so it is difficult to realize, again and again, that we are in fact going the other way. It offends every notion of progress and decency.

You may have started off as a rough guy, but you have more than redeemed yourself and are proof positive that a poetic soul will always win out if it is in there. I think we all have regrets that it took us so long to understand truths which are now obvious, but if we'd been born knowing everything, there would have been no need to be born at all. We are here to learn and hopefully, carry that knowledge into our next lifetime. You will be a King and great spiritual leader in yours, I have no doubt.

Paula,

I agree completely. Responsible parenting is about teaching children to be non-violent (unless, as you say, they have no choice) and to live peacefully with others. This is utterly sick.

Jo,

My father often said the same thing, that the lowest common denominator always wins. Parents who encourage their children to participate in such activities are the Jerry Springers of this world, and serve no one but their own crass material interests.

Ms. Primadonna,

It truly boggles the mind. I can't imagine how they justify it, but then, I doubt they believe they need to.

Thank you for your visit!

Molly said...

My Pollyanna streak is taking a terrible beating. I used to think that people were basically decent. People cheering to allow those without health insurance to die appals me. Likewise encouraging the likes of this cage fighting for children. Has the world gone mad? Devolving for sure. Too sad.

nick said...

I didn't know anything about cage-fighting so your post was interesting. It strikes me that cage-fighting for children is wrong in three ways - 1) it encourages a taste for fighting and violence which will persist into adulthood; 2) it could lead to serious brain and other injuries, even with protective clothing; and 3) it uses children to arouse adult excitement, the same as paedophilia. It all seems thoroughly unhealthy and destructive.

TechnoBabe said...

The children involved in MMA are not learning a discipline like they would if they had judo instruction or gymnastics. It is more like a free for all in the ring. The parents are living a delusion if they think of MMA as a controlled sport. Like many sports parents, the MMA parents have their ego hanging over the net.

Paula said...

This cage fighting for children is sort of like "Lord of the Flies", except with observers.

lgsquirrel said...

I am sadden but not surprised; such is the base nature of mankind.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Molly,

Whenever I get cynical, I remember Anne Frank who said, "I believe that people are basically good." Thinking of the evil she faced in her short life makes me ashamed to complain. I'm not sure that folks who place their children in such situations are necessarily evil, but they are undeniably stupid. (And I'm not ruling out evil.)

Nick,

Unhealthy and destructive. YES. It boggles the mind that people could enjoy and encourage such barbarism.

Babe,

Your last line says it all. I wish I had thought of it because it would have been a great ending to this post. I think that when parents' egos are hanging over the net, they have crossed a line between parenting and exploitation.

Paula,

A brilliant observation! Of course one assumes that the children in the novel behave as they do because no one is watching. We'll have to rethink that basic assumption now.

Calvin,

We are getting worse as a species, and that can't be what we're here for.

mrwriteon said...

Hanging is too mild a punishment for some so-called parents. I am aghast.

Pam said...

This is so far removed from my thinking and experiences at the moment. I am studying the gentleness of Australian Bush Flower Essences, and have bought my daughter up in a kind and considerate environment. However for over thirty-five years now, I've taught all sorts of children,from all sorts of backgrounds and believe me, nothing surprises me anymore.

Skinny said...

Seems like watching the gladiators fight, saddens me. I'm not too surprised, given the popularity of boxing and WWF wrestling, but I agree that it seems it would expose the kids to more violence.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Ian,

Unfortunately no intelligence tests are required for parenting.

Pam,

I'm sure that you've made an important difference in many of those young lives, especially the ones from less evolved families. I'm going to research Bush Flower Essences as that kind of thing interests me a lot.

Skinny,

I think it's terribly wrong to instill violence in children when adults should be trying to instill compassion.

witnessing am i said...

This makes me physically ill. As a parent, as a father of two boys, it makes me ill that there are other fathers and other boys out there like this.

I am constantly amazed that no matter what technological advances that mankind reaches, there are always a large part of us that push the species right back down -- with barbaric displays like this, with blind hate and vicious cruelty.

Ugh.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

David,

Unfortunately, there are no technological advances for the human brain. We are still cave people, but some of us far more than others.

Your boys are growing up to be wonderfully kind, intelligent, creative people because their parents are. Sometimes it does seem as if the less evolved are more numerous, though. I hope I'm wrong about that.