Innovative Martial Arts
15-1599 Dugald Rd
Winnipeg, MB
204-505-2787
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Bullying

Bullying pt 4 - The "CALM" Rule

How a child deals with bully like behaviour will help effect how much bullying they are likely to be a target of.  Responding to bully like behaviour in a "CALM" way can help shut down bullying early and prevent them from becoming a target.

CALM in this case stands for "be Calm, be Assertive, Look them in the eyes and Mean it" and can provide a basis for teaching children how to interact with a bully.

Be Calm - Bullies feed off reactions.  If they are able to get you worked up or get a reaction out of you they are successful.  Picking on someone that doesn't get a reaction is noun to them and they are more likely to move on.  When you get nervous you tend to talk faster, so practice speaking slow and be mindful of how you talk.

Be Assertive - Bullying is a power game, it's an attempt to knock someone else down in order to feel in control and powerful.  Being assertive shows them that you are still in control.

Look them in the eye - similar to being assertive, bullying is about balance of power.  Looking someone in the eye is one of our primal power plays.  Practice looking someone in eyes, staring contests are a common children game, but they also teach how to appear confident.

Mean it - Don't say things you don't mean, and mean what you say.  If you say "back off or I will do X", it needs to be something that you can follow through on.  If it isn't, and they call you on it you lose credibility.

Kids

"Kids Need Something Like This Nowadays"

"Kids Need Something Like This Nowadays"

I've heard this line many times, and while I agree I suspect the reasons are a little different.

Most of the time when I hear it the person means that the world has gotten more dangerous, and kids need to know how to protect themselves and have the confidence to do so.

I'd agree to the second part, but the first is just not true. Statistics show police reported crime is the lowest it's been since the 1960's and has been on a downward trend for the last 25 years.

The perception of crime has definitely increased though thanks to 24/7 news coverage and social media. 10 years ago if someones garage got broken into 8 blocks away you'd never hear about it, now every time someones unlocked car gets their change removed it's posted on Facebook neighbourhood watch groups.

But the truth is we are safer then we have ever been.

Unfortunately the result of the perception of danger has led to kids losing a lot of freedoms they once had. Walking to school without a parent in elementary school was once normal... now parent's discussion groups have people asking if 10 or 11 is too young to do so without worrying about someone calling CFS.

Meanwhile anxiety rates and obesity rates in kids are on the rise.  Which should come as no surprise as kids sense of independence is being pushed to older and older ages.

So when you take a activity, such as MMA / Wrestling / Jiu-Jitsu / Kickboxing / etc. that teaches kids to be strong, to remain calm under pressure and that they can do things they didn't think they could... yes, I think they need something like this.

Bullying

Bullying pt 3 - Kids need more then one circle

One of the simplest defences to bullying is making sure kids have more then one circle of peers.

They have one at school, which is their primary one.  It's one they spend 10 months of the year with,  5-days a week, 6.5 hours a day.  If this circle turns toxic for them at all it can be easy for them to think it is them that is the problem, at least if it is the only circle of peers they are a part of.

Kids that participate in year round activities 2-3 times a week have a built in buffer.  If school turns they have a place where they can fit in and be a part of a peer group that hasn't turned against them.  This can help keep them from thinking they are the problem, and help them bounce back from things in other environments.

Confidence is really the key to beating bullying, both in the victim and the bully.  Unfortunately confidence is sometimes slow to build and easy to destroy.  Having more then one circle provides a safety net to bullying behaviour destroying confidence.  Once that confidence starts to crack it is far easier to end up a target of bullying, or even becoming the bully in an attempt to rebuild it through knocking others down.

Bullying

Bullying pt 2: On Fighting Back

Fighting back is a often debated aspect of dealing with a bully.

The case against it is that it can lead to escalation, making the situation worse for the bully.  The bully is often larger, sometimes multiple bullies, and with the possibility of a weapon being carried at older ages can prevent a real threat.

Telling a scared child to simply hit the bully in the face could very easily make the situation worse.

That said the right to self-defence is something that should never be taken away from a child, and in some cases may be the only remaining choice at a given time.

Children should be taught to use other options whenever possible, and not to escalate the situation whenever possible.

So step 1 should be tell the adults in charge.  Same as in the adult world, we attempt to bring in law enforcement or security when there is a problem.  Taking matters into their own hands when not necessary can escalate a situation.

The next thing they need to try and do, which can be hard for anyone, is to ignore the problem and not respond.  Bullies feed off of the reactions, if they get upset or worked up the bully was successful and will continue.  If they leave the bully hanging with deflection or ignoring them the bully will end up looking silly and hopefully move on.

But when a situation becomes an assault and the adults in charge are unable to, or unavailable at the time the right to self-defence of any person should never be taken away.

But without giving them the tools to do so is unfair to the victim.  Martial arts training can definitely be one avenue to provide those tools, as well as provide the confidence to avoid the situation in the first place.

The other problem with a "fight back" strategy is not all bullying is physical, so much of it is done through words, both in person and nowadays through the internet.  "Defend yourself" doesn't work quite as well when the bully is behind a screen or across the play ground.

Physical self-defence skills are a part of the answer, but not the whole answer.  The confidence from having them can do a lot to prevent being a victim in the first place, and be prepared to act in defence when the bullying is in the form of assault, but kids need more tools then just boxing and wrestling.

Our Philosophy

The Cycle of Success

This image is on the first page of our Instructor Training manual, and it is one of the key pieces of our teaching philosophy.

The basic idea is when people are more confident they apply effort in a more meaningful way, greater applied effort leads to success, and success leads to a increase in confidence.

As coaches & instructors our job is to create and feed that cycle, meaning create opportunities for our members to feel success, which leads to a increase in confidence.

One of the great things about martial arts is that pretty much everyone can achieve success to some level as it is a individual sport, accomplishments are individual.

Success is something every child needs to find, and as the adults our job to make sure that they are able to find that success.

One trouble is often when the child's primary area of success doesn't match with adults.  In those cases the adult can often attempt to push the child towards that particular area, and in some cases pull them away from the area that the child has actually been seeing success in.

Confidence gained through success tends to bleed out into other areas, so when a person achieves a high level of success in something, anything really, it can boast their confidence and therefore increase their applied effort in other things.

This is the basic idea behind how students often start in martial arts, or other activities, see some level of success and recognition and the result is a increase in grades and focus in school or other areas of life.

On the flip side one thing that we see that doesn't work that is all to common is taking something away from a child that they are good at in order to try and redirect their focus to something that they aren't seeing as much success in.

The truth is not all people will be good at all subjects, however most students can find success in something.  If a student is lacking in school, taking the things that they are good at outside of school away will not help their school, it will only cause the cycle of success to break and can end up hurting their confidence and their level of success.

As a martial arts school we also believe we have a distinct advantage over many other extra-curricular activities.  Our program is set up with the idea of progressing through ranks in a mixed rank environment.

After a few months in the program just about any kid will be able to demonstrate a level of competence over any beginner.  After a year or two they will be able to start assisting beginners in learning basic techniques. A few years in and they will be well on their way to being leaders within the class.

Contrast this to a team sport where the team progresses along as a unit, and in most cases the top players remain the top players and the weaker ones remain the weaker ones.

There is also something very real about the martial arts when done right.  The confidence that comes from knowing that you can effectively pin / control / submit another person is a very real confidence.  It's unfortunate that so many martial arts schools have drifted away from reality to choreographed routines and "self-defence" where an attacker throws a punch or does a grab then freezes while the defence does 8 return hits against a opponent standing still...

Anyways, whatever your child is good at, encourage them to that and recognize their success in it.  Success in one thing and recognition for that success will bleed into all other areas of their life, even if the thing that they are seeing success in isn't what should be the top of the priority list.