As we approach the beginning of a new school year, we we look forward to an excellent year, new learning, new friends. But I dare to say that every parent, whether they discuss it openly or not, is also aware that as their kids grow up they will face new challenges. It is the balance of life. We run into people who inspire us and unfortunately, sometimes we run into some who conspire against us. In school, this often turns up in the form of bullying. Bullying is not only physical – it can be verbal or even done indirectly. Today’s article is going to cover the many ways that youth martial arts classes address this topic from multiple angles – mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Anti-bullying Concept #1: Mental Preparedness
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Being able to cope with any challenge starts with knowledge and attitude. Being a parent myself, as much as I want my child to be safe, I find it awkward to simply broach the subject with, “Hey kiddo, I just want to let you know that one day somebody’s going to try to push you around — so be ready for that.” Whoa! That came out of left field. Plus, now she’s probably just paranoid. That didn’t work. The context was all wrong. No solutions were offered.
Martial arts classes are a perfect context to discuss the topic of bullying. In class, kids are expending energy in a positive way and they know it’s about self-improvement and self-defense. Their minds are open, taking in new technical knowledge about how to defend themselves. They are in a team environment where they feel safe to express themselves. And since they are learning defensive and offensive maneuvers, we always sit down at the end of class to discuss the proper way to use the knowledge for peace and safety. We propose challenging situations and let them think through and express appropriate ways to respond.
In short, students in our martial arts program develop a moral compass. They learn to identify situations which are not appropriate and/or unsafe. They build self-confidence and develop an attitude that makes them resilient to bullying. An attitude of confidence in oneself is the first line of defense against bullying.
Anti-bullying Concept #2: Safety
When a situation becomes uncomfortable, inappropriate, or potentially dangerous, kids need to know that if escaping it is possible, this is the safest way to handle it. This is something we go over again and again. Self defense is not about looking like a Hollywood Kung-Fu movie – it’s about avoiding harm.
When we are teaching a self-defense tactic, we remind the class to think about the situation before engaging. Is there a way to simply escape safely? Could they just walk away and tell a teacher? By reinforcing an attitude of calm and thoughtfulness, we hope that children will avoid physical altercations and also stand up for themselves by reporting the incident.
Anti-bullying Concept #3: Physical Preparedness
Should a situation become physical, a child who has taken martial arts classes is much better prepared to defend him/herself. Without any training, natural reactions to a physical attack can be disastrous. Simply waiting for it to end often leaves the victim injured. Conversely, an overreaction could land the victim in trouble.
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Our martial arts classes for kids at Plus One Defense Systems in West Hartford offer appropriate responses to various attacks. For example, if a bully attempts to shove, the ideal reaction would be to deflect the energy of the push, then get away to safety.
Additionally, the health benefits of taking martial arts classes contribute to physical preparedness. Classes are energetic and fun, improving endurance, agility, flexibility, and speed.
In closing, we want to wish everyone a happy new school year and much success. If you are thinking about martial arts classes for your children, we would be happy to meet with you, give you a tour of our facility, and offer the kids a FREE introductory class in the style of your choosing.