Bully Busting 101 Part 6: Martial Arts
When a child, adolescent or adult is bullied, they often run to the nearest martial arts school. Too often, martial arts schools are: (1) incompetent; or (2) full of bullies who like to practice with newcomers. Sometimes the school is so strict, like many mixed martial arts (MMA) schools, that the newcomer is overwhelmed. As a lady’s son once told me: “You will push me beyond my limits!” before running out of the room. (Well yeah, it was my job to do that, but not to the extreme.)
If you’re bullied (or just lost a fight), you need to commit to training, as well as exercising, eating, and sleeping. You have to approach martial arts with the same dedication. Former karate world champion Chuck Norris once described in an article, a student who could only perform six sit-ups and three push-ups. However, the student persisted and eventually earned a black belt.
Now the question is always, “what is the best martial art?” Short answer: all if taught correctly. I trained in different styles, but I decided on Western kickboxing because I was already in shape from the army and long-distance running. Also, I had just had my butt kicked a few days before. I was determined to kick my own butt, so I trained hard and worked on my strength. After four months of training I was able to stand my ground in the ring and win a confrontation. In seven months, I had my first kick-boxing match (and I won it by Technical Knock Out (TKO)).
The quickest way to decide on a school’s competition is to look at the students. The instructor can be a great athlete, but he cannot pass on his skills to his students. So you may see a lot of nice people, but very inadequate and uncoordinated. If they hang out, talk a lot, and do silly things, you may be wasting your time. The same goes for long training sessions with little or no explanation.
Kick-boxing, boxing, wrestling, judo, jujitsu, some forms of karate, and other contact martial arts rely heavily on physical conditioning. Some taekwondo and karate workouts are disciplined, but may take longer to learn than contact styles. That is why I recommend them to younger and fit people who have the stamina and ability to bounce back from training to practice “hard” martial arts. Internal forms of martial arts such as aikido and tai chi are also very demanding, but require less physical conditioning.
But here’s what people get confused over and over again regarding martial arts. Self-defense expert Marc Mac Young explains that martial arts, fighting, and self-defense are separate. Unlike martial arts combat, fighting is never a fair one-on-one event. Often times, the attacks are not fights, but ambushes. In the military, we train for ambushes, raids, and reacting to gunfire. (The old charge across an open field against an enemy went out of style in Napoleonic times.) This means that self-defense is power avoid The attack and I see trouble coming before trouble begins.
So does this mean that martial arts training is useless?
Hell no. Martial arts training is an amazing way to develop some useful skills to use in a fight or self-protection, along with fitness, health, and self-discipline. Self-discipline allows a person to avoid being hurt by name calling or being drawn into an argument or fight. The trained martial artist has the patience and confidence to avoid trouble. They tend to walk straight and unhurried and often project confidence. This makes the stalker think twice before attacking someone who seems confident.
After three months of constant training, the trainee generally becomes fitter and healthier. After six months, they are mentally stronger. After a couple of years of training, the martial artist discovers that self-discipline carries over to other areas of his life and is capable of handling situations at school, work, and home. The person with self-discipline and determination will be able to ignore the slights, insults and ridicules of low-level people.
The trick is to keep training while life, work, school and, yes, some bullying continues. That, my friend, is the hardest part. That’s what keeps you going when family, friends, and institutions (like schools) fail. Chuck Norris called it developing inner strength.