Contrary to popular belief, teaching children self-defence does not make them violent or aggressive. Rather, it teaches them gentle solutions to rough play and bullying. A good self-defence system emphasises the use of voice and non-violent strategies to protect personal space, while at the same time showing them techniques that will actually work for them when things get physical.
A good self-defence system also teaches children when and how to use appropriate force and when to seek assistance from trusted adults.
This involves the next benefit for teaching children self-defence.
As a parent, the most helpless feeling in the world is having a child who fears going to school because they are being bullied. Being bullied affects a child’s mental health, their grades in class, and their overall happiness.
While bullying in schools has been around for generations and there is very little that can be done systematically to stop bullying altogether, in recent times bullying has evolved to dangerous and unprecedentedly sinister levels with the help of social media.
A study published by Yale University claims that victims of bullying are 7-9% more likely to consider suicide than those who are not bullied. Studies coming out of Britain have shown that half of all suicides among youth are related to bullying, according to healthyplace.com.
While there is no solution to stop bullying in schools, there are things you can do to avoid this feeling of helplessness as a parent, and to give your child the tools they need to not only minimise the chances of being targeted, but if they are, to combat this terrible form of abuse.
A tried and tested way is to enrol your child in a self-defence system. NOTE – I said self defence system, NOT a Martial Art. A ten-year-old child who is a black belt in Taekwondo or Karate may achieve great coordination and discipline, however, they absolutely do not have the necessary tools to combat aggressive bullying.
It is important not to confuse fantasy (shows like Cobra Kai and Movies like Karate Kid) with reality.
Here are five reasons why children should learn realistic, practical self-defence.
1. Build Confidence and Self-awareness
Learning self-defence is a great way for your child to develop self-confidence. Confidence in a child is very important when considered in the broader view of their developmental journey. Confident children grow up into confident adults. The journey of learning and training a good self-defence system is much more than learning how to fight. It teaches a person about themselves.
According to physchologytoday.com, a study conducted by psychologists has found that kids behave like bullies because they are very “shame-prone.” In other words, they are afraid that their failures or shortcomings will be exposed.
A good self-defence school develops the mind as well as the body, so it helps the practitioner understand and get comfortable with who they are.
This is vital for children at an early age. “If children have a strong sense of self they are less likely to experience negative social interactions and more likely to have positive relationships and things like bullying may be reduced,” said Alma-Jane O’Donnell, a Child & Family Practitioner at Good Start Early Learning.
One of the benefits of self-defence is that it focuses on growth as a person. Compared to other sports, self-defence does not exactly hinge on team effort. The burden of “letting the team down” does not weigh heavily on those who train self-defence, especially children. It’s not competitive, and their progress is only measured relative to their own progress.
Self-defence training teaches children to focus on growing into better versions of themselves. In other words, the focus is on self-improvement.
Also, they work at their own pace, ensuring a natural learning process.
2. Learn Self-Defence Skills
One main benefit to children learning self-defence is being able to defend themselves in the event that the bullying turns physical.
An incredibly terrifying feeling for a bullying victim is not knowing how to defend themselves, if forced to do so. This is a feeling adults have as well if they are ever victims of violence. This feeling of fear and complete vulnerability in the face of danger and violence is a feeling no one ever forgets.
An equally terrifying prospect is believing that you can defend yourself because you’ve trained in a martial art for a number of years and being told repeatedly that, ‘this is what you do in this situation’, only for it to fail in spectacular fashion.
We have seen many children come into our classes after spending years in traditional martial arts, only to say it didn’t work when they had to use it. This failure erodes their confidence and their self worth, and takes a long time to heal.
Having real-world self defence knowledge will prepare the child for a realistic fight and provide tools to eliminate the threat quickly. Out there, very few people have any fighting technique and rely on scare tactics and size differential to their advantage.
A good self-defence system will prepare kids for precisely these messy, horrible, but entirely defendable situations. This will reduce the likelihood of serious injury, and aid in escaping the situation as soon as possible
3. Improve Situational Awareness
Situational awareness can increase a child’s ability to protect themselves, as it may even prevent a violent encounter or altercation altogether. The kids who train self-defence with us at SGS Krav Maga gain the ability to judge threats and identify when there’s real danger. It’s a valuable skill to be able to recognise when a bully is probing or actually ready for a fight.
Situational awareness builds up a student’s ability to recognise if there is a group of potential attackers and to identify quickly if there is anyone nearby where they can seek assistance. Knowing how to read a threat can be the difference between escaping the situation with a few bumps and bruises, or being badly injured.
4. Learn How and When To Walk Away
In schools today, there is a lot of peer pressure. Peer pressure makes it very difficult for kids to think on their own and sometimes, make the right decisions. Especially if the right decision means going against the grain. This can be said for walking away from conflict also.
Remember back in the day when the bully said he was going to beat someone up after school at 3 o’clock? It was all anyone could talk about until the end of the day.
The after-school bell rings and now the bully and victim are surrounded by a bunch of instigating kids ready to see a bloody battle. The most difficult thing at that moment is to simply walk away. With social media, it’s even more difficult.
The person who walked away is labelled a coward or punk making bullying more severe. To a child who is trained and self-aware, walking away becomes a lot easier. A child that understands they have the choice to engage or not is an empowering feeling.
5. Minimise the Chances of Becoming a Target
A child that is confident in themselves and understands conflict has a better chance of avoiding it. A major theme of a good self-defence school is the emphasis on discipline, avoiding conflict when possible, and focusing on positivity. These skills are essential to any child attending school these days.
Bullying in school causes more and more kids to become depressed, suffer long-term effects, and even commit suicide. Because of social media, the shame of bullying can now be shared all over the internet for the whole world to see, which compounds the issue.
Arming children with the tools to navigate nasty social situations is our job as parents.
Self-defence is not the only answer to a child being bullied, but it’s a great foundation.
The knowledge gained from learning a self-defence system that works is something a child can carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Enrolling your kids in self-defence classes catering especially for children and the situations they commonly encounter opens up possibilities for them. They can engage and fight back if attacked, they can walk away from a confrontation, or they can learn how to avoid the confrontation entirely with enhanced and trained situational awareness. They also learn to become better people as it builds up confidence and discipline. It also allows children to become healthy in both mind and body.
We offer this opportunity for children and also for adults. We offer classes and training programs in self-defence, mainly in Krav Maga which is a mix of disciplines such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling, Muay-Thai, boxing all with a real-world application.
You can contact us to sign up and join our classes today.
Your first class is free, so you can come in and see if it’s for you.