Bully the Bully
I don’t consider myself a violent person. In fact, there are times when I don’t roll hard enough because I don’t want to hurt my training partner.
I have to consciously up my intensity level. I can’t help being a nice guy, I guess.
But, despite the fact that I’m basically a nice guy, I detest the way our society tells kids to respond to bullies.
The whole idea of not responding to the bully just doesn’t work. Bullies thrive on easy targets. By not responding, a kid announces himself as an easy target, encouraging repeated taunts or attacks.
Worse, a kid who walks away from a bully doesn’t come away from the confrontation feeling like a winner. More likely, this kid feels like he ran away—just in slow motion.
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Besides, it’s just not realistic. Bullying doesn’t end when school ends. It continues, albeit in modified form, on the job and in other aspects of adult life.
Ignoring the problem of bullying is like ignoring cancer. It won’t make it go away.
But this is exactly what school districts want to do. Ignore it until the kid graduates. Then, if the poor kid is tormented as an adult, it’s not the school district’s problem.
Years ago, when I was in school, the accepted wisdom was that you had to stand up for yourself. I had to. I had no combat or self-defense training and got punched up. But it was enough to announce to the world that I wasn’t going to be an easy target. That’s all it took.
Back then, school staff looked the other way unless things got too serious. Even they knew standing up was necessary.
But, today, schools enact “zero-tolerance” policies for violence. Really, though, these are zero-tolerance policies for self-defense. Because, let’s face it, the first punch isn’t EVER the one that the teacher sees; it’s the counter-punch. It’s the one that announces to an aggressor: “I’m not going to be a victim.”
That’s what our current policy outlaws: self-defense.
Instead of embracing this failed and—frankly—idiotic policy, we need to offer kids something better. Rener and Ryron Gracie’s Gracie Jiu Jitsu University is offering a “Bullyproof” program to help kids deal with bullying more effectively.
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The “Bullyproof” program includes “a variety of games that utilize movement designed to build the foundation to combatives techniques. Students also are taught “The Rules of Engagement,” which are about knowing when and when not to use the techniques they have learned.”*
The program also addresses the problem of online bullying, but aside from this, it is basically an introduction to some of the self-defense principles of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Then, after completing the program, graduates of the “Bullyproof” course are eligible to enroll in a Junior Combatives class to further their knowledge.
As anyone who has trained Jiu Jitsu knows, the gentle art allows the practitioner to defend herself without causing massive injuries to a bully. It is a clear announcement to any would-be attacker that there is no easy target here.
I’d like to think that school districts would be eager to adopt such a program. But I’m cynical, and I know they won’t.
Why not? Because it’s complicated and messy. It’s a whole lot easier to blindly insist on a “zero-tolerance” policy for all violence than to have to parse who attacked first and whether a defender is counter-attacking or simply using a self-defense techniques.
Despite their claims that schools are all about learning, the truth is that school districts will opt for convenient ignorance over effective learning any day of the week.
I wish I could end this blog on a more positive note, but unless parents and society stand up and insist on more constructive responses to bullying, I don’t see this changing anytime soon.