Here’s how martial arts tournaments can help your child stand up to bullies and also prevent being targeted by bullies.
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.
This can be for any number of martial arts styles, such as karate, taekwondo and kenpo.
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.
Bullying Isn’t Always About Physical Fights
Not all kids who are afraid to stand up to a bully fear getting beaten up. Bullying can take non-physical forms.
With that said, some kids attract the bullies or “mean girls” more than others.
It seems as though bullies have some kind of homing device that leads them straight to the victim.
Martial arts teaches confident vocal skills and posturing in kids who come across as being skittish or meek, lacking in confidence and easily bossed around.
Martial Arts Tournaments: the Bully Weapon
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.
Most may be wearing all black. All have black belts. They are all staring at the child — with a stern look.
This is wildly intimidating to the novice meek or “nerdy” child. It can even be intimidating to novice adults.
However…it doesn’t stay that way. Over time, children develop confident body language and speech skills.
Imagine what kind of self-confidence a 7-year-old must have, to be able to finally face the 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.
And that’s assuming such a situation even occurs. Remember, bullies are good at spotting the kids who easily quiver and tremor.
They will NOT be drawn to a child who can easily face that panel of judges and holler out an introduction while making stern eye contact back!
But if they mistake this child for an easily-controlled one, they’ll be in for a surprise when the tiger comes out of that sheepy looking child. And I don’t mean a karate kick to the bully’s head.
In fact, bullies are often afraid of a fistfight, which is why they pick on kids whom they think will never strike back in any shape, way or form.
Even the most timid 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.
As a child — who’s already being bullied — develops this skill, the bullies will pick up that something is changing in their victim. They’ll start backing off.
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.