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Learn how martial arts tournaments can help kids stand up to their bullies without fear.

It seems it’s much easier to teach a child to stand up to a bully than it is for worried parents to transform all the school bullies into kind, compassionate kids.

It’s your child being bullied; you have more control over how your child responds to the bullying than you do at changing the perpetrator’s behavior. Get your son or daughter into martial arts.

As with any type of school, parents should do their homework to find the most suitable, professionally-run martial arts school, and then sign their child up.

I’ve spent years in the martial arts and have competed in tournaments as an adult.

However, tournaments are for all ages, and I’ve taken classes that were for both kids and adults. Thus, I know exactly what goes on at martial arts tournaments, and how children and teens are instructed to prepare for them.

Teaching kids to stand up to bullies isn’t about a fistfight.

Not all kids, who are afraid to stand up to a bully, fear getting beaten up. Nevertheless, the fear is real.

The fear in some cases is akin to an adult being “afraid” to ask their boss for a raise, or “afraid” to tell a coworker in the next cubicle to stop yakking so loud on the phone.

The adult doesn’t fear getting beaten up, and in fact, may know for a fact that he or she could knock their boss or coworker flat on their back in a fistfight.

The fear is related to other factors, such as getting verbally humiliated by the perpetrator, or somehow getting “in trouble” (e.g., harshly punished by parents for telling off the bully instead of ignoring the bully; getting fired by one’s boss!).

Being afraid to stand up to a bully is often unrelated to fear of getting beaten up, especially when many times, the bully appears to be a lot physically weaker than the victim.

I witnessed this in school growing up: Often, the bully was a lot smaller than the victim!

Martial Arts Teaches Confident Vocal Skills & Posturing

Shutterstock, Ravil Sayfullin

It’s all about body language and psychology. Martial arts tournaments include “forms” or “kata.” These are choreographed sequences of lower and upper body movements to fight off imaginary opponents.

Prior to starting the form, the participant must first face a panel of adult judges who are all sitting in a straight line.

They’re all wearing black outfits with black belts, eyes pinned on the participant. None are smiling.

Imagine what kind of self-confidence a 7-year-old must have, to be able to face this panel of stern-looking judges without a flinch, introduce himself with an authoritative voice, and in that same strong voice, identify the form he or she is about to perform — getting within several feet of the judges during certain points of the form.

Any child who can learn to pull this off without a quiver can face any school bully, including several bullies at once.

Bullies are often afraid of a fistfight, which is why they pick on kids whom they know will never strike back in any shape, way or form.

It’s psychological.

This is often seen in the wild, such as when a skunk can scare off a lion even before the lion learns what a skunk’s greatest weapon is.

Watch such a video: The much smaller skunk’s posturing makes the lion back off. The skunk sprays only when pounced upon by the lion.

Even the most timid, “nerdiest” child or teen can learn how to face a panel of judges and assertively announce their position. This is rehearsed over and over during martial arts classes. Over and over. It becomes second nature. Practice makes perfect.

In a good martial arts school, this skill can be honed before a child or teen gets a yellow belt! Others will take longer, but in a professionally-run school, there’s never any pressure to quickly master this skill!

As a child or teen develops this skill, bullies will pick up that something is changing in their victim. They’ll start backing off.

More brazen bullies will continue pestering the victim, but sooner or later, they’ll be in for a nice surprise  —  and I don’t mean a roundhouse kick to the face, but a posturing and verbal response that will stun the bully into silence — and retreat.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.