Posted Monday, July 8, 2013 --- 9:50 p.m.
Mixed martial arts is a controversial sport, it can be brutal and dangerous. There's a gym in Janesville offering MMA classes to kids. They are training them to become fighters but the kids are learning so much more.
There's no use in fighting it. Mixed martial arts is violent, bloody, and exploding in popularity.
“You combine striking, grappling, wrestling, submission, ju-jitsu, judo,” said Aaron Getchell. “It's huge. When it first started out a lot of people thought it was just a blood sport. And it wasn't the refined art that it is now,”
Getchell is the father of four boys, three of whom are students at Fearless MMA in Janesville. The youngest, Lucian, is just 5-years-old.
“I'm very proud of my children and I owe a lot to this school,”
Getchell says this gym is molding his boys into young men.
“They've learned to be patient, respectful, they've learned not to give up,”
11-year-old Marshall has had two cage fights so far.
“I've done really well in them, I won both of them,”
He says on the surface, MMA looks barbaric but dig a little deeper and you'll see what it's really all about.
“It's actually a gentle sport and a very nice sport,” said Marshall.
It's not just the physical attributes the kids pick up from this training like the fitness and the exercise but it's also the intangibles: the self-respect and the discipline.
“They take pride in what they do and that pride carries over into the school and into the home,”
“They teach you discipline and to be very respectful be courteous when you're here and outside the gym,” added Marshall.
“She just has fun,”
Vicky Phonesavanh brought her daughter Naudiana to class.
“It's actually pretty fun once you get into everything,”
Initially, she had reservations, but after seeing her daughter flourish, she's convinced that MMA is right for her.
“Well at first I was kinda worried because she had never been in any kind of activity type stuff but when she started, she was really shy,” said Phonesavanh. “Now she loves it,”
“Every day she comes she gets better and opens up and tries different things,”
Keeping the kids safe is important too. They wear protective gear like shin pads. Head gear is not required because striking above the neck is not allowed.
“Some people still feel it's too violent but I assure them I wouldn't put my children in any unnecessary harm, I wouldn't put them in here if i thought they would be getting hurt,” said Getchell “I would assure them that it's a controlled environment, every precaution is taken to make sure everyone is safe and done right<”
Getchell says these kids are more interested in the competition than anything else.
“They're not out for blood, they're not out to hurt anybody,”
Getchell knows that MMA isn't for everyone. He says despite all the kicks, punches, and chokes, love always prevails inside the cage.
“I would say that love is probably the biggest thing in this gym,” he said .”They love each other they love what they do
“Fearless is like a family, they're not just training partners, they're a family,” added Marshall.
Getchell says he hasn't seen anyone seriously hurt in training and he's never had a disciplinary problem with his children at school or at home.
For more info on Fearless MMA and their kid classes, visit http://www.fearlessmmafighting.com.