Bullying and the Martial Arts
By Master L
October Is Bully Awareness Month
The month of October is Bully Awareness month and its an issue very close to my heart. I got picked on/bullied a lot as a kid, and I remember all too well the way it made me feel and the lessons I learned. Its my hope that thru the martial arts we can see no child being bullied, but I realize that goal is unrealistic. Bullies will always exist, just as criminals will always exist. So what then are we to do?
Empower our children! Empower them to stand up for themselves verbally and physically. We teach in the student, never be abusive or offensive but protect yourself! Unfortunately, bullying can be a huge issue for schools and faculty to face. Sadly all to often the school policies focus on keeping peace in the classroom, following rules and encouraging kids to never fighting back. Im not sorry to say, I STRONGLY disagree!
When we talk about bullying in the dojo we teach all the kids our 3.5 step solution.
1-Use your distance- steer clear of the offender, if you can avoid them entirely then they cant be a problem in your life.
2-Use your words- You cant always get away from the problem child, if that’s the case your child must clearly and deliberately assert themselves verbally, loudly “stop- stay back! leave me alone!” we teach the kids to point directly at the person to help send the point home and to help school faculty quickly and easily identify the trouble and the offender!
2.5- Ask for help- it may not be enough for to simply avoid and assert verbally, children need to tell a teacher, bus driver, parent, etc the more the better! We tell them we(Karate instructors, parents, school teachers and staff) want to help but we cant help if we dont know about it.
3- In a perfect world there would be no need for step 3 but our world is not perfect. If avoiding the trouble maker, speaking directly to them and asking for help does not stop the behavior we MUST empower our children to use their Martial Arts! As my father told me “never start a fight, but never allow yourself to take a beating either”. Step 3 is the most difficult, from the dojo we arm the children with all the tools in the world but it will be up to them to use them.
If you think your child may be having trouble at school, it’s important to have an open conversation with them about who is causing the trouble, and what they should do about it. Remind them of the 3.5 steps we cover in the dojo.
Understand that more often than not the school will have “zero tolerance” policies that DO NOT empower your child to stand up for themselves. Whats worse they may in fact punish your child for defending themselves against physical abuse!
As a kid who was bullied and eventually did fight back I recall all too clearly, the meetings I had with the school principal after I stood up for myself. I remember loud and clear “its never ok to hurt another person” “you have to let the teachers handle it” (even when I had told staff multiple times). And I recall clearly the detentions, and suspensions I was given for fighting back against kids who physically abused me, even when I had bruises and lacerations to show!
If someone is physically hurting or assaulting your child, they can and should fight back. This is a vitally important lesson that we MUST teach our children to help them live a full and joyful life. Even though your child may do all the right things, follow all the proper channels they still may need to physically protect themselves, and it is vitally important that you as a parent clearly show that you support your child in their efforts to do just that!
If we can help you or your child protect themselves, or you/they are struggling with a bullying situation, reach out to us! We are here to help!
“You cannot call yourself peaceful unless you are capable of violence. If you are not capable of violence you are not peaceful, you are harmless. It’s an important distinction” If you’d like to personally improve you capacity for peace, we have space in our adult classes for you!