|Stand Tall: Respect and Affect |
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Self Defense Promoted Brilliantly But Fail ResponsibilityI remember once my Judo club was invited to put on a demonstration at the local school fate. It was a lot of fun and as we were packing up we noticed the arrival of another martial art club.
Actually, we could hardly miss it. They arrived in a truck and a minivan, emblazon in the club logos and advertising slogans. Out of the van climbed 10 students of the club and two instructors. They proceeded to unload the truck.
This was a wonderful sight to see. Not only did they unload a full-size mat but a sound system that TV channels would be proud to have. I was drooling at the thought of having that much money to spend on promotion.
Anyway, after watching a very well organized demonstration, it was time for them to invite interested parties on the mat to have a go. A perfectly reasonable promotion concept. After all, it is just what we had done.
Then I was flabbergasted! What I saw next completely took my breath away.
Teaching Children Self Defense ThoughtlesslyThe instructor proceeded to teach a palm strike to the nose. Don't get me wrong this is a perfectly good defensive technique to teach. But NOT in a public forum let alone in a primary (years prep to 6) school. Excuse me but such a move needs not just a lot of training to get it right but a controlled environment to teach the proper use of it.
Then it just got worse. The instructor promptly told everybody in the school via the club public address system that this was a perfectly acceptable thing to do to anybody that approached you. No, I didn't leave anything out but I'm sure she did. I'm sure she was referring to bullies but that is not what she said. She said, "anybody who approaches you."
Even if we concede that she made a mistake, a very stupid mistake in any environment let alone in a school of that age group, let's just consider the consequences of such a move against a bully.
Is It Worth ItAt my Judo club, I am very clear to my students that any self defense action has serious consequences. I have a saying: "make sure anything you do is going to be worth it. Because whether you are right or wrong you are going to get into trouble for it."
Think about it, when the school finds out about any kind of altercation between students, no matter if anybody is hurt or not, all the students involved are usually hauled up to the principal's office (or headmasters as the case may be) and parents are called. It is my experience that it matters little if one of the children involved is a known bully or even if there is a gang involved.
One of the parents of one of my students exemplifies this thinking when they said one evening "my son had to defend himself at school the other day. He was defending himself against the bully, the one we bought him to you about and he came home and said 'Sensei was right, it's not worth using judo at school'."
He was referring to how much trouble he got into over it. I, of course, told the child I was very proud of him for using his skills, as far as I could see appropriately but I was glad he had taken on board the lesson.
Imagine how bad this could have been if someone had gotten hurt. But the aforementioned martial arts club did just that.
Something else to consider is, what if the strike only hurts the other school student? It would be bad enough if they were only playing but what if it was a bully? I know if someone hurts me I'm wanting to hit back. I can control myself but no one should live under the assumption that all bullies are going to run away at the first sign of pain. It's just not true and who would pay the price then; not the bully. There is a good chance they will hit back with a full vengeance not to mention that possibility of gathering their friends.
How bad is it then to teach children to defend themselves without responsibility? We cannot afford to do it; for every bodies sake. Yes, unfortunately, we have to be teaching children self-defence but we have to be doing it responsibly.