Youth Martial Art Sparks Safety Concerns in California

By LAURA OLSON | September 3, 2013

A bill moving through the Legislature would authorize the state athletic commission to establish regulations for youth competitions involving the martial art called pankration.

AB1186 was introduced by Democratic state Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla of Concord after she watched an Internet video of the sport featuring elementary school-age children. They were fighting in the ancient form of the martial art, which combines skills from karate and jiu-jitsu.

Her bill would place the sport under authority of the commission, which already oversees full-contact boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts for adults. The commission would consider whether there should be some minimal requirements, such as insurance, physicals for competitors and having a doctor on site.

Coaches and parents say the sport has been misrepresented as more dangerous than it actually is.

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