Bullying, Martial Arts, Your Child and You: Is It a Good Idea?
So many schools like to claim that they have “no bullying” rules, but the fact remains that teachers and other adults cannot be everywhere all the time. It is those times where and when no adult is around that bullies take advantage of the situation and of other kids. It is very difficult nowadays to just tell your child to defend him/herself when schools are given carte blanche authority to arrest children for assault and battery when in most cases those children are just trying to defend themselves.
So, what can you as a parent do? Some parents have resorted to signing their children up for martial arts classes, but is that a good idea? The idea of your child karate-chopping a bully may seem apropos, but you still have to contend with what the school decides to do about that. However, there are plenty of martial arts moves your child can learn that will actually help with the bullying problem, and these moves will not inflict any legal action upon you or your child. Here is more about these moves and how it can dramatically help your child in the area of self-defense.
Aikido is a type of martial art that teaches students how to defend themselves against attackers without harming their attackers at the same time. This is an ideal form of martial art to teach your child since he/she is ultimately trying to defend him/herself against a bully without physically striking or harming the bully. Most of the moves teach your child how and when to move so that the bully’s punches or kicks do not make contact with your child’s body. There are also deflective moves that allow your child to stop contact of the bully’s body parts when your child is cornered and cannot simply move out of the way of the strike.
If your child has to deal with a bully and a couple of the bully’s sidekicks, additional moves are taught to help under these circumstances. Hip rolls, for example, are an effective means of removing an extra person out of the way when a second attacker is coming. The move does not hurt the first attacker, and it helps your child prepare for the second attacker.
Krav Maga is gaining in popularity because it combines strength training with self-defense. Your child will learn how to become physically stronger while using that strength in reflexive responses to a bully’s attacks. Rather than hit back with his/her newfound strength from training, he/she learns to respond reflexively in a non-violent manner.
It takes a lot of emotional control, which is why it is also a good martial art for kids because it teaches them how to be in control of their emotions. (That is something not even most adults know how to do.) In the event that a reflexive response is not enough against an attack, the strength one obtains through studying Krav Maga can help gently overpower the attacker without releasing the full force of one’s anger or fear responses onto the attacker. Your child would learn to be in control of the situation and never harm the other person while still defending him/herself.
Tai Chi teaches movements that essentially swipe away an attacker’s movements. It is very slow and controlled in practice, but it shows your child how to breathe and how to be in control of his her body in his/her space. The movements done in a full Tai Chi session seem more like a spiritual dance, but if you speed up these movements, you can see how they quickly become movements for deflecting blows. When practiced often, these movements become second nature, and instantly become how your child responds to a bully’s attack. Additionally, Tai Chi (and Krav Maga) increase your child’s ability to focus and self-regulate, things that can really help even an ADHD student do better in school.
More importantly, Tai Chi can be done anywhere. You can put on soothing sounds or music and even practice the moves at home. Many Tai Chi classes are held out in the open in public parks because of the very soothing movements and controlled breathing involved. Some movements can be used anytime your child feels an overwhelming emotion coming on and needs to breathe and move through it.
Teaching That Martial Art Is to Protect Oneself First and Foremost
Most martial arts instructors will tell their young pupils all the time that what these students are learning is for self-defense only. None of it is ever to be used to hurt someone, or to strike in such a way as to cause real harm. When learning this and taking it to heart, your child will know that he/she can defend him/herself without hurting the bully (even if the bully deserves it). That exacts an equal balance of power in each bully encounter, and removes the fear factor such that your child can get through the situation without creating other legal issues as a result of physical contact with another person. No-contact martial art studies provide all of the above.
Ergo, it is a good idea to sign your child up for any of the above no-contact martial art forms. In addition to learning excellent self defense skills, your child will gain greater emotional control and emotional maturity. He/she may also gain greater physical strength, if that is part of the training. Students who study these disciplines find that they also have much better focus at school and at home, which will help them succeed in everything else they need to study or choose to study. Children as young as five can begin these classes and reach a master’s belt by the time they are in their early teens, although the more important take-aways from these studies is the self esteem, self reliance, self discipline, and personal management skills.