Are you the parent of a school bully who keeps wondering if martial arts will correct, or make worse, this problem?

For this article I consulted with Master Dan Vigil of Dan Vigil’s Academy of Taekwondo in Northville, Mich.

Vigil knows all about childhood bullying; he was the victim of bullies himself  —  not one bully here and there, but many classmates on an ongoing basis  —  and only when he discovered martial arts was he able to reverse the bullying (without physical aggression) and develop healthy self-esteem.

Can martial arts make a bully meaner?

“It’s possible, but not likely,” says Vigil. “It’s much more likely the reverse will happen. A good Martial Arts instructor will instill a sense of responsibility for the proper use of their physical skills.”

I myself have trained in the martial arts for many years and have witnessed many children of all ages in the midst of this discipline. Collectively, these kids are more mature than kids their age in the general population.

Bullying behavior is never tolerated in a quality martial arts school.

Kids are taught an art form, a form of self-discipline. They are not taught to be more psychologically aggressive. Even whispering while an instructor is talking is not tolerated. Students must bow in and out of the dojo (classroom). They must bow to each other before partner-training, and bow at the conclusion.

A bully will have no choice but to learn how to work with other kids (and adults) without behaving like a tyrant. He or she will be humbled.

Martial arts training provides an incredible physical outlet for a bully to channel their restless energy. One hundred kicks, 30 pushups and 50 sit-ups  —  as a warm-up to a class  —  will go a long way in mellowing out a mean-spirited individual.

The bully may become quite passionate about perfecting the tornado kick, and will be too mentally preoccupied with this to bother with harassing the bookworm in his class.

The bully will be more concerned about performing well at weekend tournaments and impressing a panel of stern-faced judges during his or her kata sequence, than in performing mean-spirited acts to impress classmates.

“Parents whose children suffer from chemical imbalance or deep emotional issues should speak to their physician prior to engaging in Martial Arts training,” says Vigil. “For these parents, it is vitally important they select a school with experience dealing with these kinds of issues. You don’t want to arm a child with a violent predisposition with advanced fighting skill.”