Way way back when I was in 9th grade a couple kids tried to bully me - quite unsuccessfully .
There I was, a new freshman in high school, more respectful of my teachers than I was afraid of the taller, bigger kid behind me in English class flicking my ear. I tried from time to time to give a glance back with something of a, “Quit it,” but mostly I wanted to keep quiet and out of trouble.
So, the flicking continued.
The next day it started up again. But this time after class this bully started to push me from behind and then knocked the books out of my arms. Classic, now that I look back on it. What he didn’t know was that I had been studying martial arts since I was six years old. I wasn’t afraid of him.
This was the first time that someone had ever tried to bully me, and I thought to myself as I looked at my books on the floor, “Self, two days is enough,” and I proceeded to do what we called back in that dojo in Lynn, MA a “sickle sweep”. It’s this sort of move that you might see on TV where someone, down low on their knee and toes, spins 360 degrees backwards and knocks the bad guy off their feet.
I had never actually tried that move outside of practice in the dojo. It worked like a charm.
My big, mean, 9th grade bully had both of his feet kicked out from under him and he landed on his back letting out a noise that I remember sounding like a squeaky toy.
I heard some teacher yell, “HEY!” and I didn’t look back. I just ran down the stairs to my next class. Evidently my meanie on the floor didn’t snitch. Neither of us got in trouble. That kid never bothered me again.
There was one other bullying attempt that ended similarly, without the athletic sweep, but rather a more simple trip ending with me pointing at him on the floor and telling him, “Cut it out.” I waited for him at the end of the day outside of our 8th period class we shared and he replied to me finally, “Okay, I’m sorry. Don’t go crazy, jeesh.”
Nowadays I still train and teach martial arts and anti-bullying techniques. But despite my success way back in the day, I don’t teach my students to deal with bullying in just that way. Not only were the techniques too athletic for most kids, but I didn’t take time to tell a responsible adult.
I was confident and took action. That’s good, but talking more might have worked as well and adults might have been able to intervene.
I think it’s important to deal with bullying as quickly as possible. I teach my students:
- Awareness and Avoidance. With practice, students learn to have a greater awareness for their surroundings and to notice potential danger better. They are taught to avoid confrontations where possible.
- Talking. When verbally bullied, students gain confidence in talking to bullies and talking to responsible adults.
- Defending. If physically attacked, students will have the skills to control their attacker and escape, or wait for help from adults, without harming others.
I don’t recommend striking other kids as a first resort. Rather, learning to restrain and control is a great option. Usually this gives kids time enough to wait for adults to arrive, and for the bully to realize that he or she isn’t going to be successful with their previous approaches.
Did you know that 1 of 4 teens report being bullied and that 9 of 10 LGBT students report being harassed or bullied at school? Also, 80% of arguments with bullies will end up in physical fight.
I’d love to be able to send you more tips. I recently created Rebel Budo. At the time of this writing, the Academy in Washington DC is in the development stage. Please head over there and check it out. From there (or here on this site) you can enter your email to get updates, tips and I’ll be able to let you know when I have fresh content.
See you over there!