It’s sad to say, but there are parents who consciously prepare their children for the eventuality of facing bullies as part of their back-to-school routine. It’s not sad that they’re preparing them, but sad that it has to be done. There are many ways to approach it; talking about how to diffuse a situation, learning the strength of walking away, but also knowing how to protect yourself physically. That’s why many back-to-school activities involve martial arts practice at a studio, but also at home.
Students who learn martial arts self-defense from a professional teacher can bring those lessons home to practice if you provide them with some supportive martial arts mats to practice on. These mats can help them show you what they’ve learned in safety and can enable you to help them extend that practice time after school and on the weekends. This time spent together also allows parents the opportunity to engage their children in conversation about bullies and how to respond to and avoid them. Most children never have to actually use their martial arts skills to defend themselves because other measures can be effective before resorting to the need to physically protect their bodies. But just knowing how to defend themselves is, by itself, a tool of empowerment.
Think about it: would a bully pick on a kid who looked confident, carried herself well, had no problems looking people in the eye, and who was known to be in a martial arts class? Heck no – bullies pick on those who are vulnerable, insecure, and often don’t feel much self-worth. Now I’m not suggesting you train your child to be a vigilante in school, but children who grow up knowing when it’s appropriate to come to the aid of others are more likely to be better human beings as adults. And if they’re taught in their martial arts practice (as they should be) how to respect others, that should extend not only to the vulnerable, but to the bully as well. You heard it right – a good martial arts practice will teach children not only how to defend themselves, but how to respect those around them. Get some martial arts mats and provide that space in your home where your children can extend their practice and grow into the young adults you know they can be.