Miller’s Martial Arts Academy is committed to training youth in our community through our Bully Proof Martial Arts curriculum. This is really a conflict management program. It trains students to have rehearsed, socially acceptable responses in response to someone approaching them in an aggressive manner.
We use a continuum of ideas, and an escalation of tactics, to train students to be “Bully Proof”. They will learn, and practice, how to deal with someone who is being aggressive. Plus, they will learn to do this in an appropriate way that will keep them safe. The key to this is understanding non-verbal cues and basic non-verbal communication.
It’s often said that most of our communication comes from nonverbal means. This as opposed to words we choose and say.
In our Self Defense programs, we often talk about two extremes when solving challenges arising from interaction with someone who is displaying “bullying behavior”.
#1. Passive stance and demeanor
Leaning back, hands up covering face, hiding the face and eyes.
#2. Aggressive stance and demeanor
Forward posture, clenched fists, threatening gestures, name calling, finger pointing, angry looking facial features, “wide open” eyes
There is a third, and more successful alternative, that allows us to deal with a bully.
#3. Assertive stance and demeanor
Posture slightly forward, hands up and open,(signalling the person to stop non-verbally, strong eye contact). There are some mechanics to this, however, rehearsing this with students has gone a long way to help them understand the signals they are sending to others.
Often, what we do is help students to understand a continuum of interacting with someone who may be aggressive.
Step #1: Prevention
Know where there is trouble and stay away from it. Stay away from loud noise, rough playing and/or someone that has a history of being a challenge in the past. As they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Step #2: Prepare
Ask your child what they would say if someone were to bully them? Give them concrete tools then rehearse with them such ideas as ignoring the bullying or agreeing with the bully. Here are a couple.
Preparation #1: The Sword of Empathy. When someone starts to be verbally aggressive, our students are taught to say “Let me get this straight. (long pause) You think I am a “XXX”.? Well, I disagree with you”.
Preparation #2 : This second one takes some practice and self-control. AGREE with them. “Your right, I am a XXX, and whatever you say, whatever you do I will not allow you to make me angry”. This response is all about taking back the power from the bully..
We spend lots of time “live training” with our students to teach them these important bully-proofing skills. Literally, teaching the student through live interaction with someone who is loud, and aggressive is a big part of what we do.
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 think they are going to be harmed physically. Again, what you say is important, but how you say it is equally important. Know when to shift into this mode is important, however this should be the “last resort tactic”.
Using your voice in a loud, forceful and repetitive manner that sends the message that I have “had it” and “I am going to get help right now with this situation”. Setting a strong boundary, often is what dissolves the threat immediately. It also sends a message that the bully will not soon forget. Not threatening violence, not intimidating, simply letting the person know that they must “BACK OFF, BACK OFF, BACK OFF, BACK OFF!!!!!!”.
We want our children to grow up in an environment where they never have to confront bullying behavior. Unfortunately, no matter status, social class, or level of income your child will confront issues like this at some point. However, with some practice and preparation you can help to make your child “Bully Proof”.