Purpose ‐ This paper proposes the use of martial arts as a means to combat aggressiveness and, at the same time, to provide a concrete and preventive answer to the problem of violence against women.Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper suggests the teaching of martial arts in school for both sexes, with a double positive effect: the reduction of the tendency to violence for boys and an increase in the defensive potential for girls. In both cases, looking to the long term, these synergistic effects could contribute to a reduction in violence against women.Findings ‐ The paper describes the Italian experience in teaching karate and judo at school. The Italian federation of judo, karate, fight and martial arts (FIJLKAM) was one of the first sports federations to have obtained the approval of a project for teaching its disciplines in schools. Thus, a lot of clubs of martial arts have been entering primary and secondary schools and they are teaching martial arts to children between 5 and 14 years old. During the school year 2008/2009 there were: 400 sports clubs implementing the project; 500 schools involved; 60.000 students participating.Research limitations/implications ‐ In the paper two important points are proposed in order to achieve the goal: the obligatory inclusion of martial arts in school education programs by the government; and a scientific monitoring of the effects of these programs on the improvement of pupils' school performances and on the reduction of violence among boys.Practical implications ‐ In many cases some parents and school administrators still think that including martial arts in school programs may lead to incidents and instigating violence. But, the Italian experience shows that after the implementation of right projects in the schools, both parents and school administrators radically change their opinions on martial arts. Most cases have shown that after the first year just the parents who were initially dubious about the project ask the school for the reactivation of similar projects for the following years.Originality/value ‐ The paper identified a long-term strategy to combat the problem of violence against women.