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Monday 23 July 2018

Children are acting out 'brutal' MMA moves in playgrounds

Nate Diaz punches Conor McGregor during the Irish fighter’s defeat in Las Vegas last month. Photo: Getty Images
Nate Diaz punches Conor McGregor during the Irish fighter’s defeat in Las Vegas last month. Photo: Getty Images

Wayne O'Connor and Martin Grant

One of the country's leading child psychologists has warned parents of the "brutal" MMA moves schoolchildren are mimicking in playgrounds.

Psychologist Arlene Naughton has advised parents not to enrol their children in MMA classes.

It comes after a Portuguese fighter, João Carvalho, was hospitalised at the weekend following a bout with one of Conor McGregor's stablemates.

Ms Naughton believes MMA can lead to difficult situations in playgrounds across the country.

"In Ireland, we have the media portraying McGregor to be wonderful for his brutal moves and then you see children playing it out with their peers.

"It's a natural response of children; what they see, they will play out. That certainly isn't safe. It's dangerous and irresponsible when it's done improperly like that on the playground.

"This exposure to violence at a young age makes them desensitised to it. What children are seeing is brutal violence, blood and then the unusual reaction which is the crowd cheering. That is really damaging."

However, McGregor's coach John Kavanagh disagrees that MMA is a brutal sport. He also trains Charlie Ward, the Dubliner who won Saturday's fight against Carvalho.

"What is a lot more dangerous for kids than contact sports is doing no sports.

"We are rapidly becoming one of the most obese countries on the planet and we're going to have serious problems with obesity over the next decade," said Mr Kavanagh.

"For young kids, we don't allow any striking towards the head. When they are coming into their teen years, contact can go up a little bit but is still closely monitored."

Surgeon Gary O'Toole is a former Olympic swimmer who specialises in sports injuries.

He said: "I think it is the old Spiderman adage: 'With great power, comes great responsibility.'

"In underage rugby you can have an 11-year-old weighing 55kg lining out against someone weighing 40kg; that kind of a situation would not be tolerated in MMA."

However, Dr James Gray, an emergency department consultant at Tallaght Hospital, said adults had presented themselves with serious fractures and injuries after fights.

"There tends to be a lot of facial injuries, including fractures, soft tissue trauma and dental injuries," he said.

"A blow to the neck might not cause a fracture but could damage an artery or cause an intimal tear - which can lead to a blockage of the artery and a stroke eventually.

"When I was growing up, the Incredible Hulk was the big thing, so one day I got a hold of some green chalk and covered myself in it.

"I climbed onto the roof of the shed, jumped off it and got hurt.

"Children do these things. They mimic what they see on TV or what they are interested in."

Irish Independent

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