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The BEST Self-Defense For Kids And Bullying

Karate Can Teach Anyone How to Deal with Bullying – but the Most Important Skill May Not Be What You Think This scene gets played […]

Karate can help kids deal with Bullying - but they need to develop Confidence first

Karate Can Teach Anyone How to Deal with Bullying – but the Most Important Skill May Not Be What You Think

This scene gets played out in martial arts clubs almost every day: a parents comes in with their child to inquire about taking lessons because their child has become the target of bullying.  The parent (and sometimes the child) wants to learn “how to fight” and is hoping (fill-in the blank) martial art will help them confront the bully.  But is this really the best strategy?

The truth is the answer is “No”, at least not at first.

The best self-defense that anyone can learn is not a techniques or type of martial art.  It’s developing the confidence in yourself to take the appropriate steps when confronted with bullying.

Fortunately, Karate does teach people how to develop self-confidence.  But before we get to the “how”, let’s look at the “why”.

It’s Not Just About Having The Tools

One way to think about martial arts training is like filling a tool box with tools; you need the right tool for the job.  Having the tools is one thing, knowing what to do with them is something else.  Knowledge requires years of guidance, experience and trial-and-error to gain.

Martial arts training is about filling your own “toolbox” with the skills you need to defend yourself from a physical attack.  This could include blocking, striking, kicking, throwing or joint manipulation. Or it might mean mental strategies to avoid or de-escalate an altercation altogether.

Gaining these skills takes time and effort; it is unlikely that someone just starting out in a martial art will be able to apply these skills effectively at the beginning.

For more info: How Karate Can Help Put An End To Childhood Bullying

The Bullies Have A Head Start

If someone is regularly bullying others, it’s likely that they are doing this to more than one person and have been getting away with it for a while.  In essence, they have been honing their “bullying skills”  and have a lot of confidence doing so.

Another thing that the bully will have in their favour is that they get to choose their victim (we rarely get to choose our attacker).  Most bullies are not looking for a challenge, they are looking to build their own self-esteem by making themselves appear more powerful than others. As a result, they are more likely to choose a victim who is smaller and/or weaker than them.  This gives the bully a huge advantage right from the start.

To compound this advantage, most bullies attract a following of hangers-on who support and encourage the bully.  That presents a situation of the many ganging up on the few (or even just the one).

Confidence Is The Greatest Skill Of All

So how do we help our child stop being a victim of bullying?  The first step is helping them develop self-confidence and Karate training is excellent and doing this.

How?  When a child starts karate they are inspired by the actions of the instructors and more experienced students to believe in their own potential to one day perform to the same level.  This belief that they too can achieve this skill will help motivate them to train and improve.

As well, Karate training allows a student to experience the challenge of physical confrontation in the safety of the training hall under the guidance of an experienced and support teacher or sensei.

Due to this combination of motivation, encouragement and instruction, students will actually begin to develop confidence in themselves before they they have mastered the actual skills!  This confidence can allow them to stand up for themselves when confronted by others.  It may also help them try other challenges that they have shied away from in the past.

It’s this new-found confidence that allows them to develop – and apply – their martial arts skills to their fullest potential.  This increases the chances that they will be successful in training and when faced with bullying.

As a bonus, children with high self-confidence are less likely to become victims of bullying as they don’t present themselves as “easy” targets.

Also see: How Karate Helps Kids Overcome Shyness and Gain Confidence

Building The Team

Enrolling your child in karate lessons can certainly be a key step to helping them deal with bullying.  Besides choosing a school that will be the right fit for your child, it’s equally important that you support your child in the most effective way possible.

This might be talking with your child about their challenges and frustration with bullying. Or even making their karate instructor aware of what’s going on and getting them some additional help or guidance.

The end result is that your child knows they don’t have to deal with bullying all on their own.  They have a team behind them who believes in them.  And that might be the best confidence builder of all.

Scott Bullard