In the wake of rising1 hate crimes after Brexit and fears of a similar rise after the election of Trump as President of the USA: How can martial arts help support people who are victim of said crimes?

Note that this question only focuses on verbal attacks such as racial slurs, sexual explicit comments, and sexual harassment. Physical assault (unarmed or armed with either mêlée weapons or firearms) is out. Of course, the earlier can easily escalate into the latter: losing one's cool is a sure way of escalating this. If it is not yet a fight, how can martial arts help?

As a side note: Checking out with LEO where you live is a good thing. If you are planning on owning and carrying a lethal weapon, please consult a criminal lawyer first. It might save you jail time.

1: Sources for Brexit: BBC, Independent, and Guardian. Sources for the USA: Independent, Huffington Post, Quartz, and Metro.

  • 1
    Fantastic (and important) question, I am often asked things around this topic as an instructor. – Collett89 Nov 11 '16 at 14:49

It's been a while since I read it, but The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense is essentially a primer for how to apply martial arts patterns to arguments, ranging from "soft" techniques such as recognizing and redirecting attacks to "hard" techniques such as interjecting more harsh language to shock someone into actually listening. And, much as with martial arts, there are chapters devoted to determining when to fight and when to walk away.


This is a very complex and broad question, so I will add a few general remarks here:

How can martial arts help support people who are victim of said crimes?

Increased/Rebuilt confidence

A safe and controlled outlet for emotion/anger

Lasting friendships

Tolerance (not just of pain, but of all life to some degree, walking past the verbal abuse so that it does not become more than that)

Obviously these are things that the majority of students will gain from martial arts, it is up to instructors to provide a safe class to allow the student to thrive - taking into consideration any physical or mental conditions suffered by the student.

  • 1
    It's a community wiki because its essentially a list of expandable points (as you said). I don't really have the vocabulary to take any from bullet to a decent paragraph. When I get worried parents/partners ask about the benefits of taking my class for their loved one those are my go to points (having a female heavy class we have lots of students that have or are suffering verbal/sexual abuse) as a community wiki other users can add their own to this list (there are many more and such a list will never be exhaustive) – Collett89 Nov 11 '16 at 15:27
  • 2
    Tolerance is an excellent point, particularly when added to the friendships component. Although not exclusive to martial arts I think that physical type activities which are more confronting have an increased effect. That being getting to know those from other races, cultures, religions etc. The fear of the unknown is normal but getting to know someone and see they are normal or just like you or your uncle Frank helps to eliminate that fear. – Captain Grumpy Nov 17 '16 at 9:19

Know what your laws are around altercations and what counts as reasonable defense. Teach them. Look up some actual, local cases, as what stands on the books may not hold true in court (pay close attention to whether that seems skewed by race or gender, etc. and how that might affect things.) Set up scenarios and play with the idea of verbal intervention and physically interposing yourself between an aggressor and the targeted person.

Consider what you can offer the target to increase their safety - a car ride, and offer to walk them away to another location, willingness to serve as a witness if police have been called.

Consider roleplaying what happens if the target is agitated and angry as well - how to let them know you're on their side BUT that their safety is more important than physical confrontation without silencing them or effectively favoring the verbally violent aggressor.

Train to look for the signs and physical movements of impending violence. When someone is going to change over from "just words" to action and what are the best strategies around that.


Perhaps this isn't the answer you want to hear, but what you need to hear. The martial in martial arts refers to the ability to take a life, and came from ancient times when those skills were needed for life and death in everyday situations.
Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but the issue behind this question is what in NLP is called "framing". A verbal assault, such as when people intentionally say something to get under your skin, isn't really an assault unless there is intent to commit battery. The thing is your emotions are yours and how you feel is up to you...change your mindset(frame) and feel the way you want to feel. That means change your internal dialogue and react the way you want to act. You might not want think about about what "they" say, so think of your favorite song, or if you want to "verbally" respond, do what Tim Allen did when he was in prison, tell them a joke and change their mindset, this can be done by making fun of yourself with even more exaggeration.

PS- if you might want to apply this knowledge to the news you read as well, some of the news sources you cited are playing politics, and perhaps you should learn about how subversion works in the media.

  • 1
    False, at least in the US. Assault is anything verbal where the victim feels threatened. Battery is a separate, unnecessary component. – JohnP Dec 5 '16 at 0:24
  • 1
    Maybe you should do a little research before you spout off. Assault Definition 1. Intentionally putting another person in reasonable apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact. No intent to cause physical injury needs to exist, and no physical injury needs to result. So defined in tort law and the criminal statutes of some states. – JohnP Dec 5 '16 at 4:09
  • 1
    Straight from a law site. Take it up with them. No matter how it is intended, if the recipient chooses to interpret it as threatening, then it is. Much like sexual harassment in the workplace, even if the person offended wasn't in the conversation, if they choose to be offended, the violation has occurred. – JohnP Dec 5 '16 at 12:49
  • 1
    They are 3 separate definitions. Not more requirements. And depending on state they are tort and criminal. But i thank you for the erroneous assessment of my intelligence. – JohnP Dec 5 '16 at 19:59
  • 1
    Intent is the perception of the subject, not the attacker. If they feel threatened, that suffices. – JohnP Dec 15 '16 at 15:08

Martial arts can help many people in troubled times. Tae Yun Kim, who was the first female Taewkondo Grandmaster, teaches about the positivity in life while still teaching people to fend for themselves. She also has some motivational books & videos that talk about using martial arts to help cope with your feelings.

  • 2
    Can you elaborate on what she said on the subject? – Macaco Branco May 20 '17 at 5:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.