1w6k1b99tnjW5qLK9QKgJCiG0NE The SportExcel Zone: Karate Kids Ban Bullies

Friday, April 23, 2010

Karate Kids Ban Bullies

With the remake of the Karate Kid movie about to be released, martial arts clubs are jumping on the bandwagon by touting the martial arts as a cure for bullying. And they should, because, by and large, children and adults benefit immensely from the self-confidence and self-esteem they get from the martial arts. However, as a karate instructor, I find that bullying usually stops before my students have the skill-set to adequately defend themselves. So what is going on?

Karate kids begin to transform, walking tall and displaying that confidence outwardly in posture. Their tone of voice grows commanding and their awareness of their surroundings becomes acute, and they hold their heads high. As well, most clubs have forms or patterns where students perform in front of their peers and gain confidence. And they have freestyle, point sparring where they learn to face an opponent confidently.

Once “karate kids” learn the posture of self-esteem and confidence, bullies often leave them alone. Bullies make that judgment in a split second by how one walks and talks. However, not all kids who are bullied have the time to take a martial art, especially if they are involved in highly competitive sports on club or travelling teams. But it is very easy for them to get the benefit of self-esteem and confidence, without having to pretend to be brave and “put on a happy face.”

Athletes in all sports can learn that same kind of posture in two ways:

1) By modeling or copying the posture of pros or Olympians in their sport or
2) By perceiving themselves as powerful in the face of the bully. It generally takes me two to three hours to help an athlete to stand up to a bully, and I’m talking only mental strategies here, not karate ones. Some examples are:

• The baseball batter facing down the imposing pitcher (or vise visa).
• The hockey player learning to keep his or her head up.
• The football quarterback calmly making the play in the face of a big defensive line.
• The coach dealing with aggressive parents.
• The athlete dealing with an aggressive coach.                                                                                                                

As a karate instructor, judging from the pleasure I get from it, the sport is not to be missed. But if your child’s time is committed, the projection of confidence can be applied to any sport, even potentially hard hitting ones like football and hockey. As for the Karate Kid, it is not really karate, but I’ll enjoy it anyways.

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