Martial arts training provides students with a proven path to mental and physical well being. While these are the primary benefits derived from studying the martial arts, another important result is that you are provided with tools for self-defense.
At our school, we teach all students, including the youngest children, to be alert to the world by giving them knowledge to cope with the times they may find themselves in danger. Through martial arts training, children can learn to greatly reduce their risks for becoming a victim. Avoiding these situations is the best alternative and the way to avoid them can be called “Self-defense Smarts.”
Self-defense Smarts is knowing how to prepare yourself or your child not to be a victim of a crime. Martial arts training not only prepares students for physical self-defense, it also builds character traits, such as self-esteem and confidence, that can ward off would-be attackers. It is important that adults and children learn how to spot dangerous people and the lures they may use to entice them. Predators seek easy targets and people, young or old, who appear more alert are less likely to become victims. Predators looking for children, pick those who walk to school alone, take shortcuts or seem to be alienated from other children. Quite often they watch playgrounds and observe children’s play habits. Alert your children to dangerous vacant lots, alleyways, etc., on their route to and from school.
Body language combats the first stage of an attack when the attacker is picking a target (victim). If a person feels vulnerable, he or she shows it through their behavior, physical appearance, and demeanor. If a person has a poor body image, it shows in their posture, movement and the way they walk. If a person has poor self-esteem, it shows in their facial expressions and docile behavior.
A martial artist shows a relaxed sense of confidence. This starts with being aware of your surroundings and thinking ahead. You can take specific steps to avoid dangerous situations. Plan to walk with others. Wear appropriate clothing and shoes for walking. Walk in well-lit areas. Your head should be up. This shows that you are alert and aware of your surroundings. Look ahead in a relaxed way. Drop your shoulders; do not hunch them up around your neck. Have a relaxed step, not too long or too short. Keep a calm, happy expression on your face that shows confidence.
As a parent, there are several things you can do to help your child avoid and/or extricate themselves from dangerous situations in addition to continuous martial arts training.
a. Set aside a time to talk to your children about dangerous people and strangers. Gear the talk to your children’s level of understanding. Be willing to talk and listen to anything your children may want to report. Never underestimate their fears or concerns. Children should trust their feelings and know that you are always concerned for their safety.
b. Explain who a stranger is. Children should never enter a stranger’s home, get into their car or take gifts from them. Explain when the child has the right to say NO to an adult. Be aware of anyone who pays an unusual amount of attention to your children. Listen to your children if they do not want to be left alone with someone. Ask them to tell you about anyone who asks them to keep a secret or any new adults they meet.
c. Be sure your children know what to do if you are separated while shopping. They should not look for you: they should go to the nearest clerk and ask for help!
d. Teach your children their full name and yours, phone number with area code, and address. They should know how to make phone calls, dial “O” for operator or 911 in an emergency (if applicable).
e. Encourage your children to use the buddy system. Advise them what to do if a stranger follows or approaches them.
Self-defense Smarts begins with character traits. A martial artist walks with confidence and certainty. You need to prepare yourself and your children not to be victims just as hard as you prepare yourself for physical self-defense.