TINDAL: Can America battle bullying in school by teaching martial arts in place of usual physical education classes?

By Adam Tindal, MMATorch contributor

Photo Credit Wade Keller © MMATorch

Consider everything we see and hear on the news every day and then ask yourself, would our society be better off if everyone knew how to fight? I know without hesitating that my very subjective opinion, mind you, would be a wholehearted yes.

Being a product of the public school system, I know good and well that bullying is a real thing and that, based on personal experience, it is nothing that I want my son to have to deal with when he gets older. If in the event that he does, he will undoubtedly know exactly what to do to defend himself or those in need.

Growing up I saw fights involving kids one vs. one, clique vs. clique, kids vs. teachers, kids vs. cops, you name it. Somehow it’s become my understanding that nowadays everyone wants to be a thug. Might that change, though, if the school bully went to pick on his latest victim at lunch and quickly remembered that just a couple hours ago he saw him let off a Donald Cerrone like combination on the pads? Or even better, land a Ronda Rousey style harai goshi hip toss on another kid twice his size?

I know it sounds crazy and most likely impossible to implement, but if we were to replace physical education in schools with basic martial arts training, I truly believe bullying would eventually become extinct. Some might argue that if everyone knew how to fight, then bigger kids would just use these potentially dangerous techniques to pick on the smaller, weaker kids and continue to perpetuate the cycle. I disagree.

Since I began practicing muay thai back in 2008 and karate growing up as kid, the level of respect that I have been taught to show to all I come across has never wavered. In fact, muay thai in many ways saved my life. It took me from hanging around rowdy, rambunctious, and unpredictable people to surrounding myself with a more collected and compassionate variety of individuals.

MMA and martial arts in general provides it’s students with a crystal clear understanding of just how fragile we are in this life and that sudden scenarios which can’t be prepared for have very real and permanent consequences. This same discipline and philosophy should be taught to our youth as well. Not just voluntarily to those who choose to learn, but implemented in our education system through a controlled curriculum.

Let’s provide our kids with a daily outlet that enables them to learn, build strength and fitness, as well as discipline the mind. Invaluable lessons can be taught through martial arts, including how to deal with adversity and face your fears. A new confidence can be forged through the techniques learned each day and then transferred over to other areas of life.

A child who would typically become anxious at the thought of having to get up in front of the class to present a recent project might find relief in knowing that earlier that day she demonstrated a series of techniques once thought to be too difficult to master. Suddenly, the idea of talking in front of your class doesn’t seem so stressful. They may not even know why exactly, but that is the beauty of MMA. Subtle transference of physical skill into mental fortitude and self belief.

(Adam Tindal is the author of the weekly Sports Science article at MMATorch.com.)

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