Martial Arts and Bullies
I've been in Tae Kwon Do for almost 14 years and I've been instructing for 10 of them. Whenever a new student joins we ask them/their parents to fill out a form that includes why they joined. Often times they say because the child is being bullied.
This is a tricky situation. Tae Kwon Do is about self defense. We focus more on how to avoid a fight rather then how to win a fight, so if the child or parents want their kid to beat up a bully they'll be disappointed.
If you child (boy or girl) is getting physically bullied at school the first thing they need to know is that it's not okay. They shouldn't just put up with it or hide from it. They have a right to protect themselves and get help. HOWEVER they should not invoke more violence. Violence + Violence just equals more people hurt.
Step one: We teach kids how to block in order to protect themselves. If you can block that bully can throw punches until they're blue in the face and it won't hurt you one bit.
Step two: Once a child can block we teach them to be confident if that ability. Often times a bully won't attack if you can stand up straight and look them in the eye. If you can't block you don't have to be afraid of getting hurt and then you can do that.
Step three: Teach them how to "fight". Our students memorize what to do if they ever find themselves in a fighting situation. First: Try to talk the bully down/show your confidence. Refuse to fight them if they ask. Second: If that doesn't work and the bully takes a swing block it. Keep blocking until the bully stops or you can get away. DO NOT HIT BACK UNLESS YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CORNERED. If you do have to hit back then hit them somewhere that will disable them without injuring them, like the solar plexus. It will knock the wind out of them so you can get away. Third: Find an adult and tell them exactly what happened.
If your child is being bullied and the school isn't helping them I strongly suggest enrolling them in a self defense class. Screen the club carefully so you know they're about self defense and not fighting. Martial arts builds confidence and friendships that can mean the world to a bullied child, even if they never have to use their skills in a fight.
I love this part. It is so completely true. I have said multiple times in my life that the only reason I am as successful at xyz is because I just went at it confident that I could do it... and whether or not I could didn't matter, I acted like I could and didn't doubt myself and so people believed that I could. Fake it till ya make it baby!
If you're worried that the class isn't working out for your child talk to the instructor. Lot's of schools offer trial sessions at a lower cost or for free. They may also help you figure out the best approach to make the most of their experience.