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Stop School Violence with Martial Arts
Part 2: How can martial arts help at-risk kids?
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: Introduction
• Part 2: Empower the Weak
• Part 3: Violence Not an Answer
• Part 4: Stop Bullying Early

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"I learned martial arts. What that did is gave me some much needed confidence in myself. Either I was not that kind of kid, or I had a good teacher, but for whatever reasons I have not become a violent thug. I've rather become less violent. I know now that violence doesn't show who's right. "

A wandering teacher once came across a school of young men who were quiet, gentle, and studious, but lacked the strength to maintain their studies for long periods--much less the ability to protect themselves against bullies. These students, secluded in their school, were frail and sickly, having focused on their studies to the exclusion of other activities. The teacher began to teach them special exercises--a regimen that improved the students' strength, ability to focus, and provided them tools for self-protection.

This could have happened yesterday, but it actually happened thousands of years ago. The teacher was the Indian monk Bodhidharma--the school was the fabled Shaolin Temple of China--and the exercises Bodhidharma taught the monks of Shaolin became kung fu, the precursor to all Asian martial arts.

Martial arts training has empowered the weak for thousands of years. The same training that began in ancient times provides many benefits to modern life, especially for kids and teens:

  • Physical fitness: Martial arts training develops cardiovascular fitness as well as muscular strength. Martial artists also enjoy a heightened sense of balance, as well as learning specific skills to avoid injury (like learning how to fall properly in judo)
  • Discipline: The regimented environment of a martial arts school instills a deep work ethic and sense of discipline in students.
  • Individual achievement: Students progress at their own pace in martial arts schools. Rather than suffering the embarrassment of being compared with kids who are better at sports--like hitting a baseball, or shooting baskets--they train with others at their same level (e.g. belt color).
  • Camaraderie and belonging: Most martial arts schools develop an esprit de corps, a sense of brotherhood (or sisterhood) surrounding the school, its instructors, and students.
  • Respect for self and others: The structure of martial arts training is based on mutual respect--students show respect to the instructor, to each fellow student, even upon entering the school. In addition, martial arts training promotes a healthy self-respect--now that your body is capable of these amazing feats, why smoke, drink, or do drugs? You can't because your martial arts progress will be hindered.
  • Mental focus: Learning to execute the complex and foreign techniques of martial arts requires extreme mental focus. Students often find this focus is applicable to academic studies as well.
  • Self-esteem: Parents and psychologists recommend martial arts for boosting a student's self-esteem. Beginners often progress rapidly in a good school--able to perform techniques that seemed superhuman in a few months. This accomplishment and development ("Mom! I broke a board!") gives students pride in themselves and their abilities.
  • Security: Lastly, the martial arts provide skills for personal security. For kids who are preyed upon by bullies, the ability to defend themselves allows them peace of mind. In almost all cases, they never have to use their martial arts techniques on someone. Their increased awareness and presence deters violence.

Next page > Violence is Not the Answer > Page 1, 2, 3, 4

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