I remember standing out in front of Christiancy Elementary in Michigan on a cold November day in 1981. I distinctly remember this young boy named Allen who was a grade below me come up and say “ I heard what you said about my mother” and before I could do anything it was like a episode of the old Batman Series. BOOOM, POW, CRACK. I remember thinking, wow this really hurts, as I got one of the worst beating I can remember. To my bewilderment this happened several times, even after I approached my teacher. I think times are different now, but in many way they have not changed.
Not too long after that I became involved in martial arts training. I do not know if that was what prompted me to get involved. I am sure that some insecurity that I felt doing during that time maybe influenced my family to get me involved in training. Martial arts helped me immensely in many and varied ways. More importantly than learning self-defense skills, martial arts taught me about confidence, communication skills, and self-discipline. Over the course of training 1000’s of students I have helped many students manage bullying issue. I have seen the education of students, including my own daughters, in public school really address some root causes of bullying, teasing, exclusion etc. However the one thing that I think schools are unable to address because of how they must approach their role of educators is the role of self-defense, or bully proofing young people.
Do not get me wrong, I am the most passive, peace loving person walking the face of the planet. However, I do not want my daughters to undergo what I did when I was a young man. Here are some simple steps and discussions to have with your son or daughter.
Bullying can take many forms but understanding what you should do is important.
Step #1: Prevent. Know where there is trouble and stay away from it. Loud noise, rough playing, someone that has a history of being a challenge stay away. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Step #2: Prepare: Ask you child what they would say if someone were to bully them? Give the some concrete tools that you can rehearse with them. Ignoring the bully, agreeing with the bully. One of the things that we teach in our programs is the Sword of Empathy. When someone start to be verbally aggressive our students are taught to say “let me get this straight, you think I am a XXX” well I disagree with you”. We spend lots of time “live training” with our students bully proofing skills.
Step #3: Protect: This is not what you think. The first thing we teach our students is to get really loud really fast if things escalate to a point where they thing they are going to be harmed physically. If you want to see a quick video of what this may look like.
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A great martial arts program should help young students address issues around bullying. Learning to non-violently resolve conflict is the ultimate goal of martial arts training.
If you have any questions please contact me at [email protected]
Korbett Miller is a 34 year veteren of martial arts. IBJJF Brown Belt World Champion at 42, Black Belt Under Saulo Ribeiro, Live in Student/Instructor with James DeMile, one of Bruce Lee’s first students in Seattle.