Bullying is a major problem in our society. It afflicts children, teens, and young adults all around the nation. The negative effects have been well documented. It has been shown that bullying affects the mental and physical wellbeing of its victims, who can become maladjusted, withdrawn, and depressed. It damages their sense of self-worth, causes anxiety, and even outright fear of socialization. This can easily lead to substance abuse as the victim attempts to mask the pain they are feeling.
Unfortunately, the destructive cycle of substance abuse is very difficult to escape. How do we help to avert this? What can we do about it?
Plenty of conversations focus on the benefits of martial arts training for victims. It helps them to improve their sense of self-worth, to stand up for themselves, and to walk unafraid. However, victims of bullying aren't the only ones that benefit from martial arts training.
Martial Arts Training Reduces Bullying Behavior
Most people see martial arts as an intensely competitive activity and don't usually associate it with the reduction of bullying behavior. However, it has been demonstrated that martial arts training does in fact reduce bullying behavior in children. Furthermore, the benefits grow over time. This dissertation examined the effects of a specific martial arts program with respect to bullying and found "...a reduction in the incidence of children being bullied and a strong indication in a reduction in the child’s tendency to bully others after extended martial arts training."
But why is this the case? WHY does martial arts reduce aggressive behavior?
Observing the positive impact of martial arts training is one thing, but trying to fully explain and describe WHY is another matter. To date, there is no comprehensive explanation. However, as someone who has trained in martial arts for most of his life, I believe I am qualified to at least venture a guess.
To start with, I will highlight the physical component of training. Martial arts is a rigorous activity, and after a class the students are normally very tired. It's difficult to engage in aggressive behavior when you are so tired that you just want to go to sleep. As well, students are encouraged to eat healthy, well-balanced diets. In these ways, martial arts provides many of the same benefits as any other intensive physical activity.
However, with respect to the bully's and their victims, I believe the psychological components of martial arts training are where the majority of benefits deriver from. I'd like to talk about two of the character traits that martial arts training tends to foster:
Martial arts training is unique. Unlike any other consensual civilized activity (or at least, any that I can think of), it places the student at the intersection of social relations and self-preservation. It teaches the student to manifest the defense of their own self specifically in opposition to a human aggressor. Naturally, over time the student develops that internal strength of character that allows them to stand up for themselves. In short, they develop the characteristic of VALOR. When the student develops this within themselves, they take back control. Their mind and emotions begin to calm. Thus valor leads to PEACE. How does this help change the bully? Well, it should come as no surprise that bullies are very often themselves the victims of bullying. Thus, when the bully finally finds within their own self the capacity to defend against their own demons, they are less likely to bully others.
It's important to remember that victims of bullying aren't alone. The following government website may have useful resources: Get Help Now | StopBullying.gov If you're interested in martial arts, whether for yourself or your children, visit our website today for more information.