Kids Compete in Grappling Competition

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Mixed Martial Arts is a booming sport with many different disciplines. And there's now a safe venue for kids to compete in one of them -- grappling. And it attracts competitors of all ages.

11-year-old Josh Terao has been grappling for almost four years.

"I like grappling because it's fun, and you get to work out and you get to bust up people sometimes," he said.

But not here. This is Grapplefest's first "Submission Sunday" -- the first open grappling competition for kids in Hawaii.

"Submission grappling is a growing sport," said Rick Peralta, one of the event organizers. "We wanted to bring it indoors to a safe environment like we have here. put rules to it, put referees to it, and let people have fun."

Unlike mixed martial arts matches seen on TV, this one doesn't allow any strikes. You're awarded points for takedowns, throws, mounts, reversals, and submissions. That allows very young kids to participate.

"You treat it as a sport, it's not a street fight," said Peralta. "It is like wrestling, it's like football. If you do football, you just don't go on the street and tackle anybody. you do it on the football field."

So even with the sport's tough reputation, parents -- like Josh's mom --- feel comfortable.

"It's safe because all the coaches are trained right," said Debbie Terao. "They know when to stop for the kids, they teach them the safe techniques, and i think if they learn the safe techniques, then it'll keep them safe."

And that's good news for Josh.

"I like this, so I'll come back," he said.

About a hundred kids competed. Organizers say they plan to host more of these events in the near future.