Combat Bullying Through Martial Arts Education
By Stacey Biemiller Maisch
October 4, 2012
Bullying has reached epidemic proportions in our schools. What used to be viewed as a normal part of childhood is now widely condemned, but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t happening. For many children, especially the shy, quiet kids, bullying can cause long-lasting problems with self-esteem, academic success, and behavior. Learning martial arts may be one of the best ways to both combat bullying and teach kids how to assert themselves in healthy ways. Martial arts education offers tools for self defense, confidence, and values, all of which can be used to combat bullying.
Smaller, quiet kids tend to be the most frequent targets for bullies, but even the smallest students can learn martial arts techniques to use in bullying situations. In many cases, simply taking on a proper defensive stance is enough to convince a bully to back off. Martial arts can teach kids not only how to stand their ground, but how to fight defensively enough to control the situation without allowing a fight to escalate. This does not mean condoning fighting as a way of handling the situation, however. Martial arts classes can teach methods to ensure that students do not get caught up in the cycle of fighting that sometimes stems from defense. Shouting, “I don’t want to fight!” and calling for help while defending themselves is one way for kids to diffuse tough situations.
Besides the physical skills learned in martial arts, students will also learn valuable life skills like discipline and how to focus attention, which can boost confidence. Martial arts classes require discipline to learn proper technique. Such discipline helps focus kids’ minds on one task at a time, increasing attention-span. Martial arts students are encouraged to practice the same moves again and again, as repetition enhances muscle memory and retention. Students can transfer this focus to academic and social situations, improving grades and giving them a taste of success in other arenas.
Learning the martial arts is about more than fighting and discipline, though. As they progress through levels, students learn about integrity and respect. A martial artist can only achieve the higher levels of success if he or she demonstrates the core values of honesty, courtesy, perseverance, and respect of others. Students of the martial arts are taught to never give up, never quit, but persevere through adversity. Likewise, respect of others is a cornerstone to martial arts’ philosophy. When faced with bullying, lessons of respect and perseverance grant students of martial arts the ability to make it through the tough times, while taking the higher ground and not losing their sense of right and wrong.
Childhood should be about innocence and fun, yet kids are faced with confusing challenges when it comes to bullying. The best way to help kids through these tough times is to teach them how to stand up and defend themselves, how to gain self-confidence and discipline, and how to retain a healthy set of ethics and core values. Martial arts can teach all of these lessons and more, in a fun, physically healthy environment. Consider a martial arts education to give your kids the tools they need to make it through childhood with their heads held high.