Slovakia has just broken new ground by announcing that the nation will introduce MMA as a physical education option in schools. The news was announced by the Slovakian Mixed Martial Arts Association (SZMMA) as they have managed to take a huge step towards bringing the sport to more children in the country. The organization has already put in a lot of work to create opportunities for children to train MMA and combat sports will now be available as a module in their Key Stage 1 curriculum. The move to include MMA as a physical education in schools will be managed Slovakian Ministry of Education, Science, Research, and Sport.
SZMMA president Marek Herda recently spoke on the topic to IMMAF and explained the tremendous amount of work that his organization has put into making this dream a reality:
“Overall, it was a very difficult process as it was a gradual change of opinion on MMA. Bringing MMA into a school sport is difficult overall. We found support and will for combat sports in the Ministry, and after countless emails, we were given the green light with the project. Our obligation is to teach at least 1200 pupils in grade 1, in physical education. One class has a six hour cycle, we have to cover five regions, do a seminar for the National Sports Centre and a lot of other bureaucratic stuff. With our project we had to “perform” and “show” the teaching process in front of a Commission composed of experts from the Ministry.
“However, we are very happy that we were given this project and thus were able to develop MMA and grappling sports on a national level. I hope this will help us in the development of our league (MAMMAL) and bring enough new talent but ultimately bring us a healthier society.”
After confirming that several schools in Slovakia have already started taking steps to include MMA as an option for physical education, Herda also explained in a recent interview with IMMAF what benefits he believes the changes will bring:
“Once established in a school setting, MMA can have several positive impacts on the landscape. For example, it can help increase the physical fitness and health of children and youth, which can lead to a lower incidence of overweight and obesity-related diseases. It can also help develop important social and emotional skills such as teamwork and overcoming obstacles. In addition, MMA sports can provide an opportunity for children and youth from diverse social and economic backgrounds to play and train together, which can help reduce social and economic disparities.”
This does add up to be fair to Herda, scientific studies have confirmed that BJJ has a positive influence on children and it’s not a huge leap to assume that MMA would provide similar benefits as well. It’ll be interesting to see how Slovakia fares on the global MMA scene in the coming years after they’ve been able to fully introduce it to schools as a physical education option.