GILBERT, Ariz., Feb. 18 (UPI) -- A new sport that pits children against each other in a MMA-style cagefight is gaining popularity in Arizona.
According to Arizona Family, "Pankration" combines wrestling and boxing into a combat sport, and children across the state are participating.
The sport isn’t regulated at this time, so tournaments can only be held on reservations, but that isn’t stopping kids from fighting.
Many of the sport’s top athletes train at Power MMA in Gilbert, Ariz. "These kids come here work two to three hours every day," said Andre Maracaba of Power MMA. "They work hard for that five or ten minutes they are in the cage, three to four times year."
With all the recent concerns about concussions, it would seem that this sport may not be the best option for children. To try to make it safer, the rules of Kids Pankration do not allow for blows above the collarbone.
"I guarantee less kids get hurt doing martial arts than playing football," Maracaba said.
Dr. Kristina Wilson, who practices sports medicine at Phoenix Children's Hospital, believes there’s still a need for caution. "I don't know if we're at that point where we can say it's safer; we kind of need long term data,” she said.