Baby Fight: Children 4 to 6 year old
Photo by Vjuc Kyu in the FF Lutte
Full contact combat sports seem to be the least recommended activity for young kids unless it is just self-defense exercises or athletic non-contact training. However, the most of boys (and since recently some girls too) from early ages engage in spontaneous impromptu fighting activities with or without martial arts skills. Eager for fighting was considered natural for the males of any animal including humans. Nowadays, when women participate in every single "men's only" activity, young girls who are quite close in strength to boys of their age also willingly go into these activities. There are a lot of reasons to participate in combat sports from early ages even though is still controversial. Some parents (especially dads) who wished having a boy but got a girl sometimes try to instill in the daughters a love to "men's activities" justifying that that to themselves as training of self-defense abilities and schooling temper. Then it’s often the case that children want to follow in their parents’ or elder siblings' footsteps including relatives of martial arts practitioners. Some prominent martial artists are passing the baton from their successful career to their descendants – boys and girls. Anyhow, combat sports are quite fascinating and exciting, so these activities can be attractive to youngsters.
9 year old girl pins a boy
Photo by Vjuc Kyu in the Google Album
In fact, junior girls of pre-pubescence age are well capable to compete with boys head-to-head and they especially enjoy taking over boys in physical contests. They don't have yet such obstacles as sticking out breasts or fear of pregnancy, so young girls do not feel tenseness or constraint which older girls and mature women might do. There is another one-two year period when girls also have a chance to prevail over boys. Girls of 12-14 who are intensively getting mature sometimes become bigger and stronger than their male classmates. Girls of this age sometimes celebrate great success in middle school wrestling contests against boys. They have heavier lower body being therefore more balanced. Besides, girls usually are more disciplined and more willingly obey common rules and terms, so they can be easier trained.
6 year old Azia upsets Zoran
Girls, approaching and entering the pubescence and post-pubescence age begin feeling kind of jealousy and rivalry toward other girls which is another reason to prove themselves in the way which before was typical for boys. Nobody is surprised anymore if girls sort their relationship fighting each other sometimes using martial art techniques. However, the most of girls being pumped with estrogen eventually became more feminine and stand away from any physical collisions.
Desireé Schäfer "The Silent" (40 kg) pins a Sweden girl in the final of the International Wrestling Tournament in Berlin. May 2010
Perhaps, the most "natural" combat sport is wrestling – no particular equipment is needed and contests can be arranged instantly, almost anywhere and in a friendly way. Freestyle (and folks style) wrestling is incredibly popular sport among girls in USA, Canada and many other countries. Girls and boys younger than 14-16 quite often meet each other on the mat and girl's victory is not a surprise anymore.
Since recently, another form of wrestling - grappling or submission wrestling has become very popuilar among girls. Skills and techniques mean even more than raw strength in this sport, that's why sometimes a lighter grappler overcome a heavier one and girls overcome guys.
Striking styles like boxing, kickboxing, Muay, Taekwondo, Karate and MMA are much more questionable for little kids, particularly for girls. The problem here is not that little girls are pummeling each other. Rather, it is the fact that even small impacts to the brain can cause serious injury. The effects are cumulative, so that if children continue to experience these blows, hemorrhages will occur on the surface of the brain, causing mental and physical impairment.
9 year old English girl Ellie Ali spars against a boy in Thailang
The first known real kickboxing bout between young kids under patronage of a major kickboxing federation IKF occurred in October 1999 in Orlando, Florida. Ten-year-old coming female junior star Amber Francis (84 lbs) stepped into the ring to face a boy and she didn't let the crowd down. Fighting with true determination and passion, Francis edged out a split decision win over a tough fighting Richard Allen, (80 lbs). This was a great fight that could have seen either fighter get the win and if anyone wants to give Allen a bad time for losing a great bout to a female. History was made on that day in Orlando in the world of kickboxing when the first ever Male vs Female Bout took place. However, a month later, in November, a rematch happened and Richard Allen managed to defeat Amber Francis.
Two months later, the first official girl vs. girl kickboxing bout occurred in in Bakersfield, CA. On December 13th, 1999 IKF Promoter Abe Belardo promoted a fight night at the famous STRONGBOW Stadium. The night featured 11 bouts with 3 of them being in the IKF Junior Amateur division in which 2 of them were the first IKF Junior Amateur titles ever awarded. In the Junior Amateur Bout 3 featured the "FIRST EVER GIRLS" Junior Amateur title Bout. It was for the Girls International Rules California Light Atomweight title. In this bout, Aylin Davtyan (100 lbs, 12) of Glendale, CA, USA defeated Kandra Washington (100, 12) of Bakersfield, CA, USA by split decision, 36-39, 37-39 and 39-37.
Some boxing clubs in North America promote regular boxing competitions usually calling them 'Fight Nights' which often include female fights. Some clubs allow very young girls to compete as well. These bouts are announced not as a 'kid-boxing' events but as contests in superlightweight categories like 32kg (which actually means 10 year old girls).
Sierra Pierson and Alexia Hansen in the girls' 32kg boxing event in the Nelson Club, Cranbrook, BC, Canada
Photo by Bruce Fuhr, October 2016. Nelson Daily
In June 2011, in Australia eight-year-old Jasmine Parr and seven-year-old Georgina 'Punchout' Barton stepped into the ring on Queensland's Gold Coast in a Muay kickboxing match. While Jasmine was a novice in the ring, Georgina was considered as an experienced fighter (in her 7). The girls fought quite fiercely for £70. Kitted out with headgear, shin pads and gloves, the youngsters punched and kicked before it was declared a draw and both collected £70 prize money.
Jasmine Parr is a daughter of the top Australian kickboxer John Waine Parr and his wife, former world Muay champion Angela Parr.
Jasmine cried during her first fight and gave kickboxing away after two drawn matches. After the first bout eight year old Jasmine Parr said she was not sure she wanted to do it again right away - 'maybe when I'm 10,' she said. News of the bout caused outrage, with a flood of angry comments to newspaper comment pages. 'Disgusting,' said one writer. 'Shame on the parents.' Before the girls stepped into the ring, Miss Anna Petrou, spokeswoman for the Australian brain injury organization Synapse, said even minimal force could cause serious injury and headgear would not offer complete protection. 'It doesn't take a lot of force for the brain to be impacted,' she said.
Three years after her first bout, in 2014, 11 year old Jasmine had her third fight against a 12 year old girl. In the third fight. After two draws Jasmine picked up her first win with a KO in the first round. Her opponent was a little heavier but Jasmine was taller. Before the third match Jasmine's parents asked the other camp if they wanted to make it a demo but they were happy to make it a real fight. This is quite controversial decision by the girls' parents; a deep knockout of a 12 year old girl is unacceptable. However, according to John after the fight the loser was fine and both girls wee smiling at the end. SInce her first two fights Jasmine stepped away from the ring turning to gymnastics and dancing but continued to train twice a week at Mr Parr's gym as well as training in Muay Thai, a full contact form of mixed martial arts (MMA), before returning to competition late 2013. After a win by knockout the 11-year-old was consumed by the same passion as her father and mother. The Australian Medical Association attempted to get a ban on kid's fights in Queensland. “It should be completely banned,” president Shaun Rudd said. However, his efforts seemed to be unsuccessful.
Girls and boys of age 10 and 11 are training and compete in MMA cage fight in Bunny’s Gym in Winchester, Tennessee, including two daughters of a couple of experienced martial artists. Maria, 11, said: “Fighting boys in the cage is kind of weird. They are a little aggressive and get mad if we make them submit.” Valery, 10 adds: “Being in the cage is a little nerve-wracking because you don’t know how experienced your opponent will be – but you forget that once you get into it.” Bunny says all training sessions are closely monitored and children are not made to ‘tap out’ in submission. If a hold is secured and locked without pressure, it counts as a win. They are also not allowed to use strike moves without wearing protective equipment like helmets and gloves. The club also has a strict policy that MMA techniques are never used outside of the gym and any child caught using them is first given a warning or dismissed if caught a second time.
As his club continues to expand, Bunny has hopes that the children he trains may one day become champions in the adult version.
In Thailand, famous by their kick fighters very young kids are routinely involved into this quite brutal sport. Todd Kellstein's documentary “Buffalo Girls” tells about two 8-year-old girls working the underground child-boxing circuit in rural Thailand.
Egged on by their impoverished parents and barking trainers, Stam and Pet compete for serious prize money before furiously betting crowds. Though spindly and fragile-looking, both girls are among the country’s 30,000 or so child Muay Thai fighters, kneeing and punching without the benefit of mouth guards or headgear. This seems to concern their parents not at all, despite Pet’s heart surgery two years earlier. “She has a hole in her heart — that’s why she’s like this,” Pet’s mother explains, laughing, as her daughter sobs from stomach pain after a brutal nighttime fight in a seedy red-light district.
From the 'Buffalo Girls' trailer
In Thailand, little boys and girls are chosen to be Muay Thai kickboxers from a very young age, and they really don't have a choice on the matter. It's like in ancient Sparta, if you were born a non-Hoplite, full Spartan citizen, you had to be a warrior. The Thais just decide that such and such kid will be a kickboxer, and that's that. They don't feel one bit sorry when the kid gets brutally KO'd because it is seen as part of their trade, their lot in life. It's brutal, but it's their culture.
There is a consensus of opinion that children, whether girls or boys, should not participate in any contact sport which includes head and brain impacts. The protective equipment reduces the severity of the impacts, but does not eliminate them. Unfortunately, there are plenty of irresponsible parents who would encourage their children to participate in this or similar dangerous full-contact activities despite well-known concerns about children’s physical wellbeing in fights, especially since their bodies are still growing and serious injury at this stage may lead to permanent developmental problems later in life.