Petition to US Senate wants to make chokes and locks illegal in competitions for children under 12

Kimura lock applied at the 2015 Pan Kids.
Kimura lock applied at the 2015 Pan Kids.

summer promoA petition surfaced this Wednesday on the website Change.com that affects the Jiu-Jitsu community.

William Murphy, of Sarasota, FL, is the author of the petition started August 10, 2015, asking the US Senate to make illegal chokes and locks on grappling competitions in the USA for children under the age of 12.

Murphy argues that: “If the referee is poor, this can result in permanent harm to the child. Even if the referee stops the match quickly, children’s brains are still developing, and deliberately cutting off the blood supply to a child’s brain is a dangerous and ridiculously negligent practice. 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.”

The text also says that teaching children this “dangerous” techniques open the possibility of accidents when they use those techniques on friends as play in unsupervised moments.

The petition has 48 suporters so far.

Click here to read the full text of the petition.

What do you think of the initiative?



26 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Even making referees pass a test on kids injuries and the submission techniques, making the referees pass a background check, and making it mandatory that kids referees don't work more than 4 hours in a day on referee'ing would be a HUGE step forward. I've have brought that at up for the past four years at the referee's clinic and no change.

  2. Soooo stupid !
    1. There is something called TAP!
    2. The kids are going to a jiujitsu competition not a wrestling competition!
    3. If the parents are afraid of the kids getting Hurt then don't let them compete

  3. Hi troll. How would your proposed legislation have changed this? Are they really big and old-looking children, or were they adults? We are pretty sure they were adults, and you are a complete idiot using misdirection to try to win an argument that you cannot win.

    You have zero supporting evidence that the sport hurts children. Go away.

  4. The issue here is that several of us old timers have observed many new entrants into kids coaching over the last decade who call themselves MMA coaches who are teaching young kids to hit cage fighting level submissions, strikes, and slams on other kids.
    And they are teaching the kids that the strong can do what they want to the weak, just don't get caught and get us all in trouble.
    These coaches follow that same message personally, which is indistinguishable from the philosophy a criminal follows.
    They will never self police without an external party with teeth standing over them.
    Without them, there would have been no petition.
    They are ruining our sport, our image, but most importantly: they are ruining the kids they are allowed to coach because the public is not really aware of what they are doing – yet.

  5. I have received a lot questions, especially from my conservative friends, on how is it that I seem to be against government regulation in general,
    But not when in comes to consumer protection issues, especially concerning kids?
    It's true, I am usually against government oversight.
    However, the regulation of kids safety issues in the work place, with kids consumer products, in daycares, and in sports has created far more benefits than problems.
    For adults, we can rely on the "let the buyer beware" principle.
    If an adult wants to smoke tobacco, drink whiskey, smoke marijuana, gamble, have sex for money, pay or be paid to have a no rules fight, have at it – but those who profit from selling those services should not always have the right to sell those services to children with or without their parent’s consent.
    Anyone can father a child, whether they are fit to parent one or not, children have to do what their parents tell them to do, so they can't opt-out, and they deserve additional safety nets.
    We already know that bad parenting, or just as bad, "no parenting" is a massive problem in this country.
    I agree that government oversight cannot solve this problem.
    But, when it comes to putting restraints and limits on the companies that would profit by exploiting these kids with parents who lack parenting skills or education or time or whatever,
    A billion dollar money machine or small time hustler both have a strong short survival instinct and will flow into selling children all kinds of vices, toxins, and other evils for as long as it can, so long as there is a dollar to be made.
    It really doesn't matter if that billion dollar money machine is Big Tobacco, gambling, chemical companies, sports leagues, or whatever.
    The all might dollar will successfully tempt otherwise sane people in organizations to make atrocious decisions 9 times out of 10 unless there are external watch dog groups and external legislations, reminding them there are consequences that will occur if they don't behave.
    Market forces alone, fail almost every time in the short term, until a big public example of a problem occurs, and then two decades of data collection and fat cat lawyers argue the issue…
    The tobacco companies, until quite recently insisted there was no data that smoking causes lung cancer.
    Well, who would have been stupid enough to believe that inhaling smoke wouldn't hurt you?
    Answer: almost everybody for a long time.

  6. Many people keep asking me, why I am singling out children's MMA gyms as potentially creating children with behavioral issues, compared to other environments such as wrestling, football, Judo, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, or traditional martial arts gyms?
    HBO's Real Sports investigators found that MMA fighters had a domestic violence arrest rate of 750 per 100,000 men.
    NFL players, meanwhile, had an average of 210 per 100,000 men, lower than the general population rating of 360 per 100,000 men, according to the show's data.
    I am not commenting on the correctness of the stats presented on Real Sports, and that is not really my main point.
    But, to suggest that cage fighters are not any more or less well behaved as a whole than the general population is not currently a claim that can be made with certainty.
    What I am saying is that many of these new MMA gyms are teaching the techniques, without the safety protocols, and character development protocols that were ingrained in traditional martial arts programs and scholastic wrestling programs etc.
    To prevent violent “might makes right” monsters from being created.

  7. I have been to quite a few tournaments and the techniques mentioned below are not allowed, (heel hooks, etc…) it boils down to bad schools, parenting, and coaching. Not, banning armbars,etc… Some of the techniques are taught as self defense against larger attackers, removing them would negate the effectiveness of the art. If this bill is to pass, then let's take the punches and kicks out of karate, make that illegal so no one gets hurt. Take the punches out of boxing, they can dance around and look at each other. There are plenty of responsible coaches and instructors out there. BTW, it's not just a referee, every tournament I've been to, the coach can call a tap and end the match as well.

  8. So dumb, learning chokes makes them safer ( so they are no strangles and kids know when to release ) if your looking for something to do you'd be better of going after youth boxing with repeated blows to the head

  9. As a parent with two children that have been competing in jujitsu competitions since they were nine years old I'm going to safely say you never once have I seen my child choked out or injured on the mat during a tournament or class setting.
    If your child is getting choked out or injured during class settings or in tournaments you should stop going to the garage or backyard jujitsu places to train at and start training some real jujitsu at a reputable place.

  10. Thank you for your comments, Mr. Nelson.
    Keep in mind, the petition is not addressing what gets taught,
    just what kids under 12 are allowed to do in competitive sporting events where some of their coaches may be training them to hit the submissions hard and fast.
    Ref's can't catch everything, and there are many tournaments now that do allow kids under 12 to do techniques that the IBJJF does not.
    In fact, there have been some kids MMA events now popping up.
    You are right, this is not a “barrel full of bad apples” problem,
    this is a “few bad apples” that cause 95% of the problems.

  11. Professor Avellan,
    I have certificates of 3rd Degree Black Belt in BJJ both in the IBJJF and under the Rickson Gracie Association.
    If you check their websites, you will see that I am active on both.
    During the time period you mentioned, I remember some of the shootfighting matches in South Florida that some of your students fought in that were ran by the Bart Vale group in Hileah, where they made us wear soccer style shin pads.
    If you remember, Carlson Gracie Jr. personally entered some students in those fights, although it was usually his students the Silveira brothers that entered the Carlson Gracie entrants.
    I fought in some of those fights, too, although probably not as many as MC and DT, who I believe were both your students at the time, because I had some paid and sponsored travel fight opps outside of those local Florida shootfights, when they were just starting out.
    I don’t want to name drop my teachers names, or my black belt students names, or anybody else’s names on a web page in relation to the petition,
    because I do not want to imply on any search engines that anyone agrees with the views of the petition, as that is a choice that they have to make.
    However, if you Facebook message me your number, I will answer any questions that you have.
    I don’t claim to be anything special in the BJJ world,
    but I have worked as a researcher for companies in the medical, wellness, and healthcare fields for almost 20 years.
    I have worked in operating room environments during pediatric brain surgeries, and worked in
    I have a MS in Risk Management, and a PhD in IS/DS.
    But, I share my credentials because you ask, not because I think they have any relevancy on the issue either way.
    I am for children training BJJ, not against it.
    But, there are some operators, with money changing hands, selling kids services, that have some inherent risk, in a largely unregulated industry.

  12. Thank you for your graceful reply. I had not considered that there were tournaments as you described, as I haven't experienced it. I can understand where your concern lies. I'm not sure that a total ban is the answer, but you have made me aware of an issue that could impact a lot of us. And for that, I thank you.

  13. In response to the many coaches telling me that they have never seen a kid get horrifically injured in a submission competition,
    or why don't I provide comprehensive stats and video examples,
    it is frankly because I just want to spark discussion and raise awareness,
    not assemble a "horror video reel" that will make our sport look horrifically bad and scare parents away from letting their kids train BJJ.
    But since many coaches are insisting that kids never get badly hurt in grappling competitions,
    And in response to my colleagues from Brazil who tell me that tournament injuries only happen when Americans run tournaments,
    Here is one of many videos of a kid getting severely hurt in a BJJ tournament. This one being the Espírito Santo State Jiu-Jitsu Championship from a couple years ago.
    The 15 year old is alleged to be choking his 19 year old competitor
    (I wasn't able to see the choke from the video angle),
    the 19 year old opponent dumps the 15 year old on his neck to get out,
    and breaks the 15 year old's neck.
    There was nothing the referee could do to stop it.
    The 19 year old hit the dump quick.
    The 15 year old kid was needlessly subjected to a broken neck because he was exposed to a more dangerous division than he had to be.
    Who really benefits?
    C'mon guys, there are lots of these videos.
    We all know there are inherent dangers in out sport, in Brasil or the US,
    so why expose the below the age of 12 group to the worst dangers of slams and dangerous submissions,
    and panic'ed opponents from submissions before we have to?
    Part of what is bugging me is that so many coaches are minimizing their explanation of risks to the parents,
    telling them “kids never get badly injured in BJJ competition”.
    Kids do sometimes get badly injured in BJJ competition.
    It’s not magic because it is BJJ or when it is done in Brasil, either.
    To my colleagues, please don't poke the bear and force me to compile a horror video reel that will make out sport look outrageously bad because of a few bad apples, and drive everybody away from letting their kids start learning the basics.

  14. My pleasure, Mr. Reggie Nelson.
    Kids under 12 rules like they have at the Gracie Worlds fully address these issues in a safe way for kids under the age of 12.
    They eliminate the use of a quickly done submission to end a kid under the age of 12 match.
    They are not the only large organization to follow this protocol,
    but it is noteworthy that they are also the largest advocate of the adult style that is "submission only"
    and they have the sense to understand that kids under the age of 12 can still be raised to be highly effective Jiu-Jitsu practitioners
    without being prematurely exposed to the dangers of an opponent
    who has the incentive to immediately hit a submission fast and hard
    so as to end a match or earn a medal for their coach's wall.
    There is ample historical precedent that those submission tactics can be introduced later in the their development with no loss of future skill potential.

  15. Thadeu, not all referees that are currently referee'ing are capable of supervising matches.
    Regulate the referee training, background checks, and testing, and the tournaments safety standards, or get rid of the submissions for the kids under the age of 12,
    until there is real standards of quality with regards to the referees and the tournaments.
    One or the other, either is fine with me, but the current system where some tournaments are putting teenagers, or blue belts to referee matches is ridiculous.
    Did you see the video of the ref texting on his phone during the kids match:

  16. Mr. Murphy, I'm the president of the organization that oversees youth Pankration in California, much of what is now being targeted here. To set the record straight, I am retiring early from a 6 figure salary so I can continue with this state delegated oversight. I self-funded our non profit organization and have worked countless hours with state officials in creating standards to ensure this sport is properly regulated. I do this as a volunteer and take no money in return for my work which I consider a public service. There is still a lot of work to be done but no other person or organization has volunteered to do this nor have they provided any help as of yet. If you could personally witness these events and spend time which these kids you would clearly understand the emphasis in building the character of these young men and women who train diligently in their chosen sport. The overwhelming majority of these kids are honor students and all have citizenship traits that far exceed their peers and yes many come from communities which are not very productive towards development of youth. All adults who have contact with the kids must pass a criminal background check and complete a profiency exam. In regards to safety, ringside physician's have overseen 177 bouts and recorded 8 injuries in post bout injury reports which are preformed on 100% of the participants. That is 8 injuries for 354 exposures (athletes). Only one was serious enough for emergency transport to a hospital (a broken arm). Compare this to other sports, non of whom have such intensive medical oversight over each participant. I understand you have invested a lot of time and effort in this cause so one paragraph from me will not change your stance but I would hope you and your supporters could look at factual information and not just a flavor portrayed within the media.

    Although this looks like MMA, potentially dangerous techniques, meaning anything that has a reasonable chance to injure before voluntary submission, are prohibited. Bouts are scored under a point system, where points are earned for executing a properly applied technique. They cannot win by TKO or injury so malicious behavior is strictly monitored and punished. These youth athletes understand the rules and the ability to follow them during this very competitive combat sport builds empathy like no other.


  17. Mr. Frank, I appreciate your note.
    I am glad that your organization in engaging physicians.
    And, I appreciate your efforts to try to maximize safety protocols
    within the ruleset that your organization is adopting, and events that you sponsor.
    I am for sports for children,
    but I also think that some real vigilance needs to occur regarding this developing age group,
    especially with regards to the for-profit promoters who charge gate or derive other revenues for people to watch children fight.
    Even if you and I end up not agreeing on every way to solve this concern, I do appreciate your note, and I certainly appreciate your stated intention of taking the highest road possible when it comes to the kids.


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