Children First: More teens flock to MMA - KOTA Territory News

Children First: More teens flock to MMA

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As more UFC fights hit the airwaves, more children are exposed to the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

That means more of them come to gyms like Harbour's Combat Club in Sheridan, but not all of them make it to the second week.

"It's real popular at first for all the kids.  But I would say more than half of them come to one or two classes, realize it's a lot of work and it's hard and then they never come back," says trainer David Harbour.

Harbour usually trains six teenagers a week, but he says they must meet certain criteria.

"Under 100 pounds is a little light for us, just because of the size of the instructors," said Harbour.

Those who meet his standards and stick with the training, like 15-year-old Sam Barney, say they get a lot out of the experience.

"I've been in this class for about six months now and I like physical contact and it also helps relieve a lot of stress," said Sam.

Harbour says MMA training can teach many life skills and lessons.

"Emotionally and mentally, it's a great outlet to deal with aggression or anxiety.  They realize fighting's just a contest.  It's not posturing, it's not making you more of a man.  It's just a contest, so they're more gentle out in the real world," said Harbour.

"You learn how to cope better with other people and work with other people," said Sam.

But Harbour doesn't want to see aspects of the training taken out to the streets.

"You cannot fight outside the gym.  and if they do get caught fighting out of the gym, first time they get a warning.  After that, we kick them out," said Harbour.

Harbour says if anyone ever gets hurt during training, they are taken out of class until their injuries have fully healed.

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Rapid City, SD 57701

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