COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Mixed Martial Arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the country for adults to watch. In Colorado Springs it's kids that are getting a chance to try out the action for themselves.
"As soon as you start to get into the hang of it, it gets easy," said young MMA fighter David Haehn.
The classes, which are taught by professional MMA fighters, are offered to students from elementary to high school. For one hour a day, four days a week Haehn is learning the techniques that have made MMA fighting one of the most popular sports on TV.
"His self-confidence is much higher, he's more outgoing, he's definitely better off physical condition wise," said David's father while watching from the sidelines. The classes, taught at the Altitude Center in Colorado Springs, are similar to karate and boxing but allow students to learn full contact combat and self-defense.
In the last year, the program has become a growing class with both boys and girls signing up to participate.
Click Here To See More About the Classes Offered: http://altitudemma.com/
The self-defense techniques are considered too extreme for some critics who believe exposing kids to violence at an early age could send the wrong message.
"The difference is defense verses fighting," said therapist Dr. Larry Curry when asked about the effects of teaching combat to pre-teens. "I think some programs actually cross the line and go into fighting instead of defense." Curry added.
In the Colorado Springs classes, an instructor is always nearby and allows students to learn the techniques under proper supervision.
Third grader David Haehn is thrilled with the program and told FOX31 Denver that the techniques have helped him lose weight and gain self-confidence.
"I used to be 110, 120 pounds so this has done an extreme weight change for me," added Haehn while describing losing 30 pounds in a year.AlertMe