In white belt class we were teaching the kids the introductory self-defense techniques. These techniques all end with Sensei’s trademark phrase “Stop! Leave me alone!” As we were teaching the kids these techniques, one of the boys told us that he had a bully in his second grade class. It just came out as we were encouraging them to speak up when they finish the technique. We were quick to pick up on what our white belt was saying and everyone got a water break.
Of course after class the other sensei present spoke to the kids involved and their parents as I worked on getting the next class warmed up. We help change lives at the dojo, and this is just one way it is accomplished. The sensei who spoke to the parents initially got into karate to deal with personal abuse issues. Her husband got into karate as he was bullied in school. Of course, stopping a bully is not the only reason people join karate. I have been fascinated by the martial arts since I saw the television show Kung Fu.
The parents, on hearing for the first time about a bully in their child’s second grade school room, were shocked. The kid confessed that this is the second year that the bullying activity had taken place. The local school district indicates that bullying is “Repeated, conscious, willful and deliberate intent, direct or indirect, to physically or psychologically intimidate or distress someone else; physical, social, or verbal actions or intimidation toward another person with negative intent.”
After an initial group kicking drill with the entire next class, the other sensei brought us all together to share the story of the white belts and to encourage anyone else who is potentially being bullied to speak up. As with many things in life, this was not our original lesson plan.
I will long remember the surprise we all felt at learning about the bullying situation. We were all proud of how the dojo used a simple lesson to assist the community. The self-defense techniques are a good start for all of us. Avoiding a fight by walking on the other side of the street or avoiding the shady areas of town are all good starts. In schools we cannot avoid other students. And, as we grow-up we also find that we cannot always avoid bullies.
Thank you, sensei, for teaching us confidence and improving our ability to speak and stand up for ourselves in our life situations. How about you? Do you walk taller or speak up more knowing some elements of self-defense? I believe I have more confidence as a result of learning the self-defense taught in class.
If you know of someone being bullied, please speak up and tell someone. You do not need to wait until you are in a dojo learning to defend yourself prior to stopping a bully. See you in class soon.