A sport that only 15 years ago was banned in most of the 50 states is now the fastest growing in the U.S. (Shane Hamm/Borderzine.com)

MMA, previously banned sport now popular among children

EL PASO – The two boys wrestling on a padded mat inside a chain-link cage barely tall enough to ride the teacups at Disneyland grab at each other, one grasping the other’s leg leaving himself vulnerable as his opponent throws him off-balance. The sensei or master stops the action after the new student with the structural integrity of his elbow in jeopardy gives a tap of his hand in submission. This is the sport of children’s mixed martial arts or MMA, a new trend in this fast growing sport with children less than 10 years of age strapping on gloves and shin guards in order to pummel one another. While the sport for children in this age group looks like organized rough-housing, their goal is to defeat the opponent utilizing hand to hand combat techniques from muai thai, kick-boxing, wrestling and boxing. Cynthia Baca looks on as her six-year-old son Mason engages in a contact sport played behind a caged wall.