One of my favorite health blogs, is National Public Radio's (NPR) blog, SHOTS. An article entitled "Pediatricians Put The Kibosh On Boxing", caught my attention. It explained the dangers of boxing as a sport for kids. The writer noted:
Citing the risk of injuries, including concussions, the American Academy of Pediatrics and its Canadian counterpart, the Canadian Paedeatric Society, have come out in opposition to boxing as a sport for children and adolescents. Pediatricians should strongly discourage parents from letting their kids box and suggest sports "that do not encourage intentional head injuries," says a new policy statement from the two national groups for pediatricians. (link)
One might wonder, does that mean all combat sports are bad?
There is never a right or wrong answer because these things are relative; it depends on how the sport is taught, which combat sport it is, what the child is like (aggressive vs. calm), the child's age, the guidelines established at home, the instructor's methods, etc. I would argue, however, that the critical point here is intent. Sports like taekwondo and Karate are fighting/combat sports, but many instructors focus on the self-discipline aspect, and do not encourage fighting aimlessly. Boxing and wrestling, at least in my eyes, seem to carry the intent to harm, and children watching and practicing these sports, tend to act-out the sport more often.
There is merit to some of these combat sports. Children can build strong self-esteem and courage based on the experience. With martial arts, many instructors focus on discipline, and an understanding of the body and mind. They teach children to think before they act. But the fact remains that it is a form of fighting, and some children are encouraged to rough play at home with their siblings and sometimes fathers. Without proper guidelines, these children may transfer these lessons to the schoolyard and classroom.
What are your experiences?