As a martial arts instructor and parent, I can tell you that the subject of bullies is always on mind. I personally was bullied in one way or another most of my childhood. A lot of my facial features where larger than my body growing up. My nose and ears where really big and I was skinny so I was a easy target for bullies. I can say that there were sometimes in my earlier years that I contemplated taking my own life! Sometimes it just wasn't one kid but several and people that I thought where my friends that made fun of me. In the beginning, I did not know how to handle it and then later it became less name calling and more hands on. This was the late 70's and early 80's so lots of disputes where handled during recess and I can say I fought alot from the ages of 5 to 17. Most of the times I fought were a reaction to someone putting their hands on me and other times I threw the first punch knowing it was coming. This is one of the many reasons I got involved in wrestling at an early age. We did not have martial arts in my hometown. In every fight or scuffle I ended up in, we ended up on the ground so wrestling just seemed like the right answer. I think my parents knew I needed it because they were in full support of me wrestling. Through wrestling I learned how to fight, essentially by using the moves we learned to take kids down and hold them down. Wrestling helped me more time than I can count in bad situations. Thank you Coach Ramstetter for being such a great mentor to me in my early ages.
I now own my own gym and most of the kids that come to me are coming for the same reasons. 1. They are getting bullied in school. 2. They need better self esteem. 3. They need better social skills. We normally have 20 + kids in a class. We talk alot about bullies and being bullied. Parents, I do not know how often you talk to your kids about this situation, but it is alarming how many of the kids that attend my classes have been bullied or have seen or witnessed someone get bullied. In some cases, my kids admit to actually calling people names and being mean when they should not have. Parents, bullying has not got worse. It has always been bad! The delivery methods have just got scarier and more real as social media and smart devises help bring these things to light faster that when we were growing up.
Obviously, we do not want to make our kids so afraid of being picked on that we do not allow them to go outside. So giving them a skill set on how to handle situations seems to be the right answer. I can tell you we can not bully proof our kids. It is a lie! We can teach the skill sets to help them deal with situations, but we can not fully stop it. Why do I think martial arts is a good way to help with this? I can not speak for all schools but being in the business for over 20 years I can tell you all the schools I personally know have it covered. Martial arts work on your child's self esteem by giving them lessons and techniques that will push them to their limits. They will have to process through these lessons and techniques to accomplish the tasks. They will learn that through hard work they can to anything. Martial arts teach confidence in the same way by working and pushing your child during their classes. Kids will learn that anything is possible. Martial arts teach discipline, respect, and integrity. These three things, to me, are the core fundamentals of martial arts. Kids learn to line up and listen to directions as part of the discipline . They learn to respect boundaries, training partners, elders, and facilities. They are consistently pushed on integrity through the many life skills presented in training. Obviously, they are being taught moves that will help them during situations that may end with them having to protect themselves or others. We talk alot about bullying in class and how we handle it through roll playing and practical application.
So in closing, can BJJ bully proof your child? The honest answer is yes and no! Your children will need a lot of guidance from you and a good martial arts school to help them during these trying times. A good BJJ school or martial arts school will help give your child the tools they need so when situations come up, they will be able to handle the situation to the best of their ability. You, as a parent, will need to let them know when and how they can handle a situation. I have had parents come up to me and tell me, "Coach, my son was hit on the bus today and he didn't defend himself." I, in turn, talked to that young man and his was afraid to defend himself because he thought he would get in trouble at home! Remember, we give them the tools but we must guide them with these tools.
I hope you as a parent take that first step by enrolling your child in a school. Most martial arts schools have a trial period. Take advantage of that and see if the fit is right for you and your child. Give your child the tools that will last a lifetime! Martial art is a life skill that every child should have in their tool box.