Martial Arts Schools Against Violent Extremism (Network)

The network of committed martial arts schools is working against violent radicalization and extremism of every sort. They aim to train their members to spot violent radicalization processes as early as possible and to be able to react adequately. Ideally, the trainers / mentors can act as strong partners for other more specialized CVE and deradicalization programs.

The Islamic State actively calls on their supporters to train martial arts like the Israeli Krav Maga to prepare for Jihad either when joining the organization in Syria and Iraq or in their home countries. In addition, militant white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups have increasingly radicalized and actively prepare for the fight against democratic governments and their representatives such as law enforcement and military. This preparation includes training in martial arts and close combat. Violent extremist groups of all sort have hence attempted to run their own martial arts schools but also to infiltrate existing mainstream training centres for recruitment and to avoid detection.

Next to parents and teachers, martial arts experts and coaches are uniquely positioned to recognize a violent radicalization process and intervene as mentors and respected attachment figures for teenagers and adolescents. To achieve that, these mentors need to be specially trained to understand the psychology and signs of violent radicalization processes. The participating trainers want to be role models for a non-discriminatory society based on mutual respect and equal rights, in which martial arts is carried by a philosophy of de-escalation and prevention of violence. Self-defence has the goal to protect human beings and to provide self-esteem but it also aims to develop the ability to avoid conflict and end a dangerous situation as quickly as possible.

More information is available in German.

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