Despite years of effort and millions of dollars spent on safety campaigns, bullies are still a problem for children. There are some people who seem to target others, and merely exposing them to the right literature or threatening minor consequences isn’t enough to stop them from undertaking those actions. It’s no surprise, then, that so many parents are looking for answers to this type of conundrum. One of the most popular solutions is to send a child to learn a martial art. For some parents, though, making this type of choice can be tough simply because it raises so many other questions.
The Big Questions
When most parents look at the relationship between martial arts and bullying, they have natural questions as to how these arts will help their child. While they certainly want their children to be safe, they might have legitimate questions about how learning an art that involves physical contact will help them in school environments that typically have zero-tolerance policies towards any kind of violence. The truth is that the physical benefits of learning these skills are only a small part of why they tend to help children with bullies.
Promoting the Right Mindset
Before there’s any kind of physical impact on a child’s life, there must first be a mental change. For many children, learning a martial art becomes far less about being able to accomplish a particular physical task and more about knowing that he or she has the ability to accomplish a task at all. These classes can do quite a bit to help children learn that they’re safe in situations that might have otherwise seemed quite scary. In short, these classes can be incredible for children who need to become more confident.
Being more confident can play a huge role in dealing with bullies. Children who take these lessons are better able to talk directly to bullies and extricate themselves from problematic situations simply because they’re more confident in themselves. While some of this confidence may certainly come from a sense of physical ability, it’s also important to know that it comes from the additional self-respect that comes with being part of a larger group and understanding that hard work really does pay off. Children who practice a martial art have a better chance of learning how to stand up for themselves and drive bullies away without resorting to violence.
A Change in Bearing
The change in confidence levels also brings with it a change in bearing. Simply put, children who take these classes tend to look like less of a target. Remember, most bullies go after those who present less of a challenge – a bully is looking to establish dominance or to cause distress, both of which are hard to do to those who seem like they’re able to handle themselves. Taking these classes can make a child look like less of a target and thus feel a great deal safer in school.
Realistically, this change can also come because many classes help children become part of a larger group. Most students attend classes with others who become friends and who make them feel less isolated. As such, attending a class can help a child look less like someone who can be picked on in a manner that would be unnoticed or ignored. It makes sense, then, that a great deal of conflict can be avoided simply by changing the way that a child interacts with the social structure of his or her own world.
One of the most common misconceptions about martial arts lessons is that they teach children how to fight. While these lessons certainly teach techniques that can be used in self-defense and they can also be used in competitive situations, there are no classes that teach a child how to pick fights or even encourage children to use these skills in their daily lives. Instead, a rather larger number of these courses emphasize learning how to settle conflicts without having to use any of the skills that are learned in class. A successful student, at least in most classes, is a student who will never use their skills outside of a competitive or educational setting.
Some classes even prioritize lessons on how to defuse tense situations without resulting in violence. Those that don’t directly address these skills still passively do so by ensuring that children work with their peers in cooperative settings. Learning how to work with and trust others is a key part of learning better communication skills, and thus helps many children who would otherwise be afraid to deal with bullies learn how to address their problems in ways that can lead to a non-violent resolution to these situations.
Yes, these classes absolutely do teach techniques that can be used for self-defense. Students are generally taught that using these techniques to deal with bullying is something of a failure, though, as literally any other choice should be made before engaging in violent behavior. Students who do choose to use physical options are, however, taught how to do so primarily to keep themselves safe. It’s not a matter of picking fights or even winning – these techniques are generally used to keep students safe so they can get the proper authority figure to step in. A good instructor knows that when things have progressed to this point, a student should understand how to safely disengage without putting himself or herself in more danger.
Being skilled in a martial art can be a great way to deal with bullies, but not just because it teaches self-defense skills. Students learn how to communicate with peers better, project an air of confidence, and how to disengage from violent situations safely and effectively. Enrolling your student in a class is a good way to help him or her learn ways to deal with bullies and, ultimately, how to have more successful social interactions in the future.