Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Kids are playing Russian Roulette with chokeholds

Horseplay by kids, especially young teenagers, is nothing new. Seems like when they hit that certain age right around 13 or 14, both seem to go hand in hand. However, the latest sensation being played out by teenage kids is no laughing matter. It seems that with the growth in popularity of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, the latest now has kids playing Russian Roulette with chokeholds.

Here in the Lehigh Valley, I read an article in the local newspaper a couple of days ago where it appears a case of this so-called horseplay almost went too far. Apparently a 15 year old boy, whether he was playing or not, locked on a rear naked choke on a 14 year old student.

Not playing by the rules of MMA, when the 14 year old boy didn't tap, but frantically tried to break the grip and eventually passed out, he unconsciously fell face first breaking his nose and busting open his lip. The aggressor, who is now being charged with assault, says it was part of a game that is played throughout the school and the victim was a willing participant. Not surprisingly, the victim tells a different story.

The supposed game is called 'choking out' and the object of the game is to see how long you can let yourself be held in a choke hold till you're about to reach the point of unconsciousness. Unfortunately, unlike in the photo above, where the prank of someone getting choked is being done with professional female MMA fighter Kim Couture doing the choking, the kids playing this game are far from properly trained.

Their whole source of education is coming from what they see being performed and displayed by professionally trained MMA fighters in events just about every weekend. However, I hope people aren't quick to blame or even judge the sport of MMA solely because of the irresponsible behavior of influential kids.

Every generation before us, there has been teenagers who have been influenced, albeit in the wrong way, by some form of popular culture. In the 90's, it was backyard wrestling mimicking the moves of professionals from the WWE and WCW. In the '80's, the backlash came from kids listening to Gangster Rap and Heavy Metal lyrics. Even in the '70's, I remember as a kid growing up with Bruce Lee and Kung Fu films all the rage, me and my friends would run around at recess jumping and throwing flying kicks at one another.

Not so smart when I think about it now as a grown man who's been properly training in martial arts for over ten plus years, but as a kid who sees it as playful fun, Bruce Lee or I can be hardly held accountable. However, that's only because I was lucky no one got seriously hurt. In cases where tragedy has occurred, it makes no difference how old you are.

In 1999, there was the case of the 12 year old Florida boy who was charged with murder after he accidentally killed a six year old girl he was babysitting when he says he was imitating body slamming pro wrestlers. He ended up getting a life sentence. Also, the rock band Judas Priest has been blamed for the suicide deaths of two young males' ages 18 and 20, solely because of the content of their lyrics.

Thus, while I don't feel the sport of MMA can be blamed for this latest problem that has arisen, I do feel it can assist in addressing the issue. Here's a situation where I think the President's of the major MMA organizations here in the states, Dana White of the UFC, Scott Coker of Strikeforce and Bjorn Rebney of Bellator can come together under one umbrella for a common cause. To educate kids on the dangers of practicing a sport they are not properly trained for.

If each promoter could unite and have panels of their fighters located all across the United States going around to various school districts speaking on the dangers of playing around with MMA, I think this would go a long way in helping to curb this latest teenage rage. Because whether they realize it or not, kids are playing Russian Roulette with these chokeholds.

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