Petition Closed

Make applying choke and joint lock submission holds to children under the age of 12 until they tap to win matches in sport competitions illegal.

This petition had 145 supporters

A large national industry has emerged that charges money for children to engage in MMA or submission grappling style matches that allow children under the age of 12 to apply chokeholds to other young children until the child "taps" or submits to the choke.

If the referee is poor, this can result in permanent harm to the child. These matches should be stopped before a child signals pain or injury from a submission.

These same tournaments often allow children to apply joints locks to the wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles, or neck until the child "submits" from the pain of the lock. If these locks are applied with too much force or for too long, lasting damage to the child's joints can occur.

Other grappling sports such as Folkstyle Wrestling have long ago labeled these moves as "Potentially Dangerous" and not suitable to be applied to children.

Judo similarly has long ago made chokes and armlocks illegal to apply in competition for kids under the age of 12.

Child safety conscious BJJ tournaments such as the Gracie Worlds do not allow the referee to wait for the children under the age of 12 to tap to a submission. These tournaments will not award a win or points for submissions or submission attempts. If one of the children under the age of 12 attempts a submission-like move on another child under the age of 12, the referee merely restarts the match in a safe position, to remove the incentive for children under the age of 12 to try and attempt chokes or joint locks on their under the age of 12 peers in an attempt to end the match. This is a much safer way to introduce children under the age of 12 to the sport and skills of BJJ than allowing them to try and use submission attempts on their peers under the age of 12 to win their matches. Other large tournaments such as those ran by the IBJJF and NAGA, also address this issue by requiring the referee to stop the match before the child taps, whenever possible, which is another way to prudently address this situation.

These children under the age of 12 do not have the judgement necessary to apply these holds with due care or recognize when holding out too long before tapping could cause them permanent harm.

Young children are often entered into submission oriented tournaments to please their parents and win trophies for their coaches, and do not have the true capacity to "opt out" in many cases.

They are sometimes encouraged by their parents or coaches not to "tap early" in the submission oriented tournaments when their opponent starts to choke them or apply pressure to their joints.

These tournaments and all the fundamental skills they have to teach could still fulfill their function if chokeholds and submission holds were made illegal for children under the age of 12 as the means to end a match, and the matches were decided by the points scored from takedowns, positional controls, and transitions (almost all of these tournaments already have such point systems in place that allow a match to be won even in the absence of a submission hold). 

Most disturbingly, as children become trained to apply these holds routinely, they may become more likely to apply these holds in situations where there is no parent, no coach, and no referee present when they are fooling around with their friends.

Coaches should be training children not to apply these holds and stressing their potential danger, not training children under the age of 12 that they are go to moves during grappling matches or altercations with other children under the age of 12.

Applying chokeholds or submission locks to children under the age of 12 during competitive sporting events as a means to win a match without required early stoppage by the referee, should be illegal for all of these reasons as they provide no societal good, put a vulnerable population at risk of harm, and could lead to an increase of children choking other children when adults are not present to provide a stoppage to such holds, if they are drilled as "go to" moves, to be applied hard and fast until the other child taps, during their regular practice.

Today: William is counting on you

William Murphy needs your help with “Make applying choke holds or submission holds to children under the age of 12 without early referee stoppage in for profit sporting competitions illegal.”. Join William and 144 supporters today.