Bullying in Schools

As a response to young people being victimized by bullies, more and more parents are choosing to enroll their children in martial arts schools. But are these schools really teaching children what they need to understand and resolve conflict peacefully? We want our children to be safe. We want them to be self-confident and capable. We want them to acquire good values, to respect themselves and others, and to act with kindness and integrity in their relationships.

Can the study of martial arts teach these things? Can the notoriously combative practice of martial arts skills create an environment of peace and well-being? Is it possible that such "arts" of aggression can give our children the skills to resolve conflict nonviolently? Can they enhance our children's ability to learn healthy and humane values?

The answer is yes, to each of these questions—but only if the martial arts are taught as a comprehensive system, a total program. Conventional methods being taught today are not living up to this potential. And because of this, they are doing more harm for your children than good in helping them to resolve conflict peacefully. Most martial arts schools today focus mainly on physical self-defense skills, with little or no information presented about how to deal with conflict before it becomes a physical confrontation. It is a lopsided teaching, and our children suffer for it. This is a main concern -- the martial arts have to be taught as a whole endeavor, both mentally and physically, if our children are to learn to resolve conflict without violence. For the most part, this is not being done.

Only when students receive instruction in how to prevent and resolve conflict combined with the study of physical self-defense skills do the martial arts become an excellent, and complete, educational tool for young people. Then they learn the skills to avoid being hurt physically and emotionally. The combination of physical and mental skills engages their bodies and minds while making them feel more confident, more self-assured, more focused. It is not a case of "either/or, " but rather that both skills must be intelligently taught and developed.

As a parent, educator, author, and martial artist, I am determined that vitally needed mental skills be taught side-by-side with physical self-defense skills, to create a whole martial arts education. This is the way martial arts were originally taught when they were created centuries ago, and this is how they were meant to be learned. Presented in this way, the martial arts are capable of addressing one of the most important social concerns in the world today—violence. It is true that the martial arts can also improve physical fitness and coordination and provide many other benefits. But, its main intent is to teach people about conflict—what one can do to avoid, resolve, and manage it.

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