Children, aged 5 to 7, have been battling it out in a so-called Kiddie Fight Club at a Brooklyn park while their parents watch, sparking a social media war among community members.
The young members of the Greenpoint Fight Club meet almost daily after school in McGolrick Park in the Greenpoint neighborhood of New York City, according to Curbed.
The club, which is said to have less than 10 members with up to four competing at any one time, involves the kids engaging in a ‘full-on fight fest’ in the playground, wrestling each other to the ground and practicing martial arts.
The young members of the Greenpoint Fight Club meet almost daily after school in McGolrick Park (pictured) in the Greenpoint neighborhood of New York City
But the roughhousing has fueled a less playful fight between parents in the area, with spats erupting online in a local Facebook group.
Parents of fighters claim they set rules for no kicking and punching and that it is harmless fun for their active kids, while critics say they were ‘shocked at how aggressive it was’ and that the antics could scare other children.
Mom Julie Wilson, whose 6-year-old son Zack plays in the Fight Club, told Curbed the group is nothing like the movie namesake and is simply a way for the children to play fight and practice martial arts.
‘There’s a bunch of kids who like play-fighting. Some of them (including mine) take martial-arts classes and use the skills they’ve learned,’ she said.
‘Some just like to wrestle and jump on each other. Because we all have VERY active boys, we’re in the park every day.
‘At some point most days, the kids end up fighting, usually on the rubber mats by the tightrope where there’s the most room.’
She insisted the parents ensure the kids don’t get hurt while roughhousing and have rules around not being violent with one another.
‘As parents we don’t want anyone to get hurt but we want our kids to play the way they like, so we set some rules (no kicks, no punching) and let them do their thing,’ she said.
Another mom told the outlet the club has brought families together and accused critics of not wanting ‘to be part of the community.’
‘The families have become close. My son is watched by many families in that community,’ she said.
‘I guess you can look at the fight club as an issue of private parenting in public but I look at it as a bunch of people who didn’t want to be part of the community.
‘I mean, the thread got so insane. People were commenting on things they’ve never seen.’
However another mom told Curbed she did not want to speak about the saga for fear of making ‘some enemies among the ‘park parent’ community.’
She added: ‘It’s cut throat lemme tell you!’
The fighting among the parents in the leafy, public park first erupted when one parent posted about the Fight Club online in May.
Before then, the Greenpoint Fight Club had been true to the rules of its movie namesake as a secret club in which famously its first rule is: ‘You do not talk about fight club.’
‘Did anybody see the kids ‘fight club’ happening at McGolrick playground today?’ the concerned mom wrote on local Facebook group Brooklyn Baby Hui, reported Curbed.
‘I don’t know how else to describe it… I was a bit shocked at how aggressive it was and it was apparently parent-sanctioned as there was a group watching.’
She said she was concerned the fighting would scare her own children who often play at the park as she slammed the ‘jarring’ sport as a ‘full-on fight fest’.
‘I’m all for kids wrestling and having some fun,’ she wrote.
‘My kids do it at home all the time, but watching this full-on fight fest was very jarring and something I wouldn’t want my kids to witness.’
The mom suggested the parents of Fight Club members relocate their kids out of the playground to a ‘grassy area instead.’
Her post sparked a fierce debate among parents in the neighborhood, where the median household income stood at $104,216 in 2019 – higher than the New York median of $72,108, according to City Data.
Parents of little ones in the Fight Club leaped to the defense of the group and accused those complaining of being ‘entitled.’
‘We should definitely not be banished from the playground,’ one parent wrote.
‘So you want to make a 6-year-old move to the grass because he wants to play a sport he plays so your child won’t see it. That feels kind of entitled,’ another chimed in.
‘Lots of things happening in a public park that I don’t agree with. But it comes with the territory of living in New York City,’ they added.
Meanwhile, others blasted the club for leaving other parents and children feeling unsafe in a public park supposed to be enjoyed by everyone.
‘The public playground is a great space for everyone to [blow off steam] but everyone also needs to feel safe doing so and this post is about someone expressing they do not feel safe,’ one parent wrote.
Another agreed: ‘[Roughhousing] might not be behavior everyone wants their children exposed to.’