When most siblings start wrestling around on the floor, they are told to stop. But for Colwood brother and sister, Cole and Sydney Belton, their mother joins in and corrects their form.
For more than a year the siblings have been studying mixed martial arts at the Langford gym Crusher Combat Sports with their mother Genea Belton.
Genea started MMA about two years ago, around the same time as her children.
“My favourite is the rear naked choke hold,” said eight-year-old Cole jumping up and wrapping his arms around his mother to demonstrate.
While the Beltons are involved in other activities as a family, such as baseball and soccer, Genea said their experience with MMA isn’t the same as with other sports.
“It’s different (than team sports). We can do this all together. It’s something neat for the kids and I to do,” Genea said. “We are all learning together.”
Sydney and Cole agree they are the only kids they know who get to wrestle with their mom.
MMA doesn’t stop at the gym for this family. They watch MMA matches on TV together and critique fighters’ styles, form and technique.
When they are at home, Genea said the living room turns into a wrestling octagon for the kids.
“The kids know this is just for in gym or on the living room floor,” Genea said. “The only bad thing about (MMA) is they want to do it all the time.”
To the Belton family MMA is a fitness activity and not a violent activity. MMA might have violent connotations to some people, but Genea stresses that the increasingly popular sport is only a “total blood fest when it is unregulated.”
“MMA is a competition and a physical chess match,” Genea said. “I am not getting my kids to beat up any other kids, they are learning mechanics.”
While her kids were confident prior to joining the sport, Genea said “It has improved my confidence in them knowing they can defend themselves (should they ever have to).”
Keri Scarr, owner of Crusher Combat Sports and a professional MMA fighter, has been wrestling with her 13-year-old son since he was able to walk.
“Most parents are proud when their kids take their first steps. I was just as proud when Hayden tapped me out for the first time,” Scarr said, explaining her son locked her into a submission hold she couldn’t get out of.
Practising MMA with her son Hayden helps their relationship as mother and son, Scarr said.
“It brings you closer together, you are in close contact though out the whole training period. It challenges the kid to be better than mom and mom to be better her son.”