SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- It's the first few days of summer camp at Fight Ready where kids as young as 5 years old are learning martial arts basics. Instructors at the Scottsdale gym say safety comes first.
"Their bones, their neck, all the rest of it is not the strongest it's (sic) going to be," says Paris Stanford, the head professor of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Fight Ready. "So, it's very important as they're developing not just skill set, but as they're developing in their body, you're able to keep them safe."
Training tiny athletes is very different from training adults, Stanford says. He advises parents to watch for red flags that might indicate their child isn't enrolled in a safe program.
"I think if they're not enjoying themselves for one, that's the first sign that something could be wrong," Stanford said. "And two, if you're not seeing any improvement as far as knowledge base and their learning."
Stanford says it's essential that young students feel comfortable in class. He says students should be paired with other students who are similar in size and capability.
The Arizona Department of Gaming is promoting the message of safety after releasing a video the agency says shows minors engaged in illegal MMA fights. The footage is part of an investigation into the actions of two promoters who are facing misdemeanor charges for hosting unsanctioned events without a license, proper security and medical professionals on standby.
[WATCH FULL VIDEO: Illegal MMA fights in Arizona]
Disclaimer: We've blurred the faces of the under-aged fighters.
Arizona's Family repeatedly reached out to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office and the Arizona Department of Gaming on Thursday to find out why suspects Roland Sarria and Todd Whitmoyer are not facing child endangerment charges.
"There is not enough to charge either one of them with child abuse based on statute and the circumstances," MCAO spokeswoman Amanda Steele wrote in an email reply to our question. "Gaming officers did not submit any child abuse charges."
When enrolling children in martial arts training, Stanford says parents should expect to sign waivers about risks of injury or infection. They should expect to find medical staffers at tournaments.
"If [students] injure themselves, something like their neck, you don't want somebody who doesn't know any better rolling them over, moving them," says Stanford.
Check an instructor's credentials, says Stanford and make sure the required precautions are in place to protect young athletes.
"They need our guidance, you know, and they depend on us," says Stanford.