Combating Bullying with Martial Arts

Bullying seems to be one of those things we’ve all grown up with. Kids can be mean and, without an internalized understanding of the consequences of bullying, this can lead to aggression towards classmates, neighbors and others. Sometimes this comes with big, lifelong consequences for both the bullied and those doing the bullying.


With the right role models and guidance from the people they interact with, kids can understand the impact of bullying and hopefully reduce this negative behavior. Martial arts can play a very positive role in a child’s life and here is no exception. While many may think that enrolling a bully in martial arts would be a silly thing to do, people who have practiced martial arts know this to be untrue. Many of the tenets and life lessons of martial arts help reduce bullying and not increase it, making martial arts an excellent aid for children who are being bullied, along with those who may be lashing out.



The difficulty of mastering a martial art is incredibly high; the only way to learn how to succeed in martial arts is to learn self-discipline. The internal commitment you make with yourself to achieve the goals set for your discipline helps to build character. By focusing on creating a solid work ethic in your martial arts students, you help develop their ability to focus and control impulsive behavior. This can help reduce the urge of a bully to tease or hurt another child, as well as provide a sense of self-control for someone being bullied.



Your training will, at some point, put a noticeable emphasis on teamwork. Teamwork plays a huge role in a martial arts school’s development, especially with newer ones who have a high number of beginners. The journey to master your practice is a lot easier, with the support of your fellow students and instructors. Encouraging your intermediate level students to help beginners is a great way to increase social bonds and create a sense of camaraderie throughout your school.


Having kids interact with each other in positive, helpful and communal ways can help kids have a higher sense of empathy and sympathy, thus helping to further reduce bullying. By having kids work in teams and making them work within a team dynamic, solitary bullies or kids who may be different or without a big friend group are put into situations where they must communicate with and help others. With repetition, this can greatly aid in the personal growth of both, as bullies begin to empathize more with others.


Shame, not Self-Esteem

While most people believe that bullying stems from low self-esteem, many studies have found no link between the two. Rather, shame — a negative feeling of inadequacy or embarrassment for not being good enough — is a bigger influencer. Martial arts can help build up the confidence of potential bullies, so they don’t feel unwarranted shame. Building confidence, addressing your weaknesses and learning about the impact of your actions are all important factors to help reduce a bully’s negative behaviors. Likewise, those who have experienced bullying also see great increases in their self-esteem, while helping with confidence and determination.



When we are teaching children martial arts and, consequently, how to physically attack and defend, it is crucial to teach the importance of non-violence. Violence should be a last resort and, even in self-defense, the aim is to pacify an attacker, rather than hurt them. True martial artists advocate for peace and not for violence. When one of your students gets bullied, they should never be aiming to get revenge through what they’ve learned through martial arts. Rather, they should be more confident at deflecting the negative energy from the bully. This is easier said than done but no one said being a martial arts master would be easy!


To learn more about how martial arts can help in a child’s positive development, see these highly beneficial 12 benefits of martial arts for kids. Want some more ways to help combat bullying at your school? See this great webinar on the 8 phases of bully management from veteran experts Dave Young and Master Tommy Lee.


What is the biggest lesson you’ve taught to a potential bully or a student who has experienced bullying? Let us know on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Google+, to stay up to date with all of your ChampionsWay news.