Posted tagged ‘kids self-defense’

Martial arts, Self-defense, and Bullying

May 11, 2010

Dawn White of Satori Dojo in Phoenixville, PA, raised a timely and important topic over on the “Suggest Future Topics” page — namely, What can martial arts teach kids about how to handle school bullies? Here’s what she wrote:

“I had an issue raised to me today that has caused quite some thinking. I have a friend whose 10-year-old daughter was physically assaulted by another girl in school. This is what she told me [D=daughter]:”

D did nothing to this girl but ignore her. Never said a word. The girl started giving D trouble and D ignored her. Didn’t even look at her.
This went on for 1 class and part of lunch. When she was being verbally assaulted at lunch, threatened “do you wanna be smacked?”, a teacher heard the girl and told her to go sit down. Can you believe it? That’s all he told the girl!
At their next class the girl was running her mouth at D. D continued to not look at her or say anything to her. On their way out of the door, D was talking to a friend and the troublemaker told D to “quit being smart with me.” D said nothing.
Girl said to her “So now you have nothing to say?!!”
D said, calmly, “I’d rather keep my mouth shut.”
Girl said, “I told you to not smart off to me.”
Then smacked her in the back of the head, pulled her hair, and smacked her across the mouth!
D went to a trusted teacher, crying, who called in an administrator to help. Then sent D to another administrator who told D that the girl will “probably be suspended.”

Dawn goes on to observe that many of the physical techniques we teach in traditional self-defense classes, and even sometimes in kids’ self-defense class, are designed for use in extreme circumstances (against would-be rapists, kidnappers or child molesters), and wouldn’t be appropriate for school bullies. I’d add that even the “milder” martial arts techniques we teach our kids (blocks and counters) can be risky to use against bullies — not just because of the chance of escalation, but because in schools with “zero tolerance” policies against fighting, the victim who defends herself will be given the same suspension meted out to the bully. This is a source of great frustration to bullying victims and their parents.

Let me add one more item to stir the pot before opening up the discussion: I’ve heard it said that martial arts is the wrong answer for bullying, because “it only teaches more violence.” Needless to say, I think that reflects ignorance about martial arts. But maybe we need to be clearer about what we teach kids, and how it applies to situations like the one Dawn’s friend described.

I have much to say, both on the specific incident described above and the general topic of martial arts and bullies. But before I chime in further, I’d like to invite instructors, as well as teachers and parents who’ve dealt with these issues, to let us know what you think.

Special Guest Drummer to Perform at Book-Signing Party & Demo

December 11, 2009

Oakland musician and Haitian drumming instructor Lee Hetelson has generously agreed to perform alongside Redwood Dojo’s kids at the party, demonstration and book-signing this Sunday, December 13th.

Don’t miss the fun! A detailed schedule of events has now been posted at the Redwood Dojo website. Come, bring friends and family, and get your books at a special holiday price. Both editions– The Cuong Nhu Training Manual for Kids, as well as The Kids’ Karate Workbook— will be available. This will also be a rare opportunity to get books signed by author, illustrator, and several of the children who posed for the pictures.

A Holiday Gift for Karate and Taekwondo Kids

November 3, 2009

I’m already starting to see the words “holiday shopping” in the media, so there’s nothing to do but join in:

The Kids’ Karate Workbook is a great holiday gift idea for young martial arts students. As you know, when kids get involved in something, they love everything about it, from clothing to equipment to… anything they can find. This book offers some special benefits for both children and parents:

It encourages reading.

It encourages healthy physical activity.

It promotes discussion between kids and parents on the important topics of safety and self-defense.

It promotes active engagement with an art and discipline that in itself brings many benefits to the child.

If you’re an instructor, I want you to know you were very much on my mind when I wrote this book. It’s not meant to be used by students for self-instruction; it’s meant to get students to collaborate with you, their teacher, in order to practice better at home. Time and again the book asks students to speak to you, to find out what you want them to practice and improve, and even to “correct” the book if it differs from what you teach. There’s no other book like it in the bookstores. Click here to read more about it on Amazon: The Kids’ Karate Workbook: A Take-Home Training Guide for Young Martial Artists.

If you’re a school owner, consider offering the book for sale in your “pro shop,” or asking your neighborhood book store to stock it for your students. And if you have any questions, please contact me: didi[at] — or leave a comment here on the blog.