Martial arts isn’t usually the first option parents explore to combat a bully problem but it’s likely the best.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that bullying is a big deal. If you have been living under a rock you probably heard about it there too – from a victim looking for a place to hide. That wasn’t the worst solution back in the old days. Avoid it. Ignore it.

That doesn’t work today. Today, bullies aren’t just at school or in your neighborhood. They’re in your pocket. Thanks to smart phones, we now have instant access to the world, but, that world also has access to us.

Bullying isn’t always physical but even when it is the worst part isn’t the bruises. It’s the shame. It’s the posts. It’s the texts. It’s the videos that classmates take and pass around in private chats.

Sometimes, it shames children to silence. As a parent, the thought of your child hiding something from you that’s hurting them may seem ridiculous but, remember, the hurt isn’t the worst part. It’s the shame. You may be one of the few people they can still look in the eye and not feel it.

Hiding it is probably the only option that’s worse than hiding from it. If it makes you feel any better, finding out and marching right down there isn’t much better for a number of reasons you probably already know.

You can instruct and coach your children up but whether you decide that avoiding, reporting, or standing up to it is the answer, ultimately, it is your child who will have to do it. All you can really do is listen to them, support them and arm them with the best tools to combat it.

Martial arts training has the benefit of not only addressing the physical need of a child to defend themselves but also building up their self-esteem and confidence. That’s just as important.

CONFIDENCE AND SELF-ESTEEM

Martial arts classes are conducted in a structured environment that is built on a foundation of respect and discipline. Children don’t just learn takedowns and techniques. They learn to set and achieve goals. Accomplishment breeds confidence and confidence goes a long way in building self-esteem.

Bullies target children who are weak and insecure. Children who square off against their peers in a supervised environment for the purpose of learning how to defend against and disable an attacker are neither of those things.

DISCIPLINE AND FOCUS

Simple tasks such as standing at attention, waiting your turn, following instructions and executing on command teach focus and discipline. Children who are involved in martial arts learn these tenants as a matter of course.

The expectations that instructors have of students is high and consistent. The expectations that children who take part in martial arts training have of themselves tends to rise as well. The self-esteem that comes with meeting those high expectations on and off of the mat is a huge boost.

RESPECT AND FRIENDSHIP

The theme of respect is ingrained into the culture of martial arts. Simple body language like a fist bump after an exercise or a bow after a match teaches children to show even those with whom they are unfamiliar respect. They, in turn, come to expect that same respect for themselves.

Martial arts classes are a great place for children to make new friends as well. The positive energy in class is contagious. The atmosphere of encouragement builds comradery quick and the structure never leaves anyone sitting alone. Achieving goals together and celebrating each other’s accomplishments builds bonds.

A child who feels like they belong, particularly in a place with a culture of support and encouragement like a martial arts class, is a child who is going to have a healthy level of self-esteem.

FIGHTING

Bullies pick on easy targets. Children with the kind of confidence that is built by martial arts are not easy targets. A child who is capable of defending themselves doesn’t have to do it very often. In addition, that self-confidence goes a long way in the ability to brush off meaningless taunts without the need to respond with force.

Sometimes though, force is the answer. Your child likely won’t hear that from any other adult outside of a martial arts class or their own home. There’s too much liability for a teacher to even whisper it at school but it’s the truth. When left with no other feasible option, quick and decisive action is an excellent bullying deterrent. A child trained in martial arts will not only learn to deliver it but also when it is and is not appropriate to employ them.

For more information on our youth programs or to try a free class, contact us at 732.414.2112.

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