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tanya williams
09-21-2004, 06:46 AM
My name is Tanya and I am a 40+ mom of an 8 year old boy. My son goes to a school where there is 0 tolerance for fighting (a good thing), but unfortunately there are several bullies in the school that ignore that rule. I was looking into enrolling him in some kind of self defense class but didn't know where to start. In last Sunday's USA today magazine, there was an article about which type of martial arts would be best for which type of kid. In the article, Aikido was said to be best for kids who are bullied in school. I'm trying to find out more info from either parents or boys who have been in similar situations. I'm really at a loss as to where to start, but this site seemed like a good beginning. Any comments/suggestions would be appreciated.

Confused in Michigan!

Kevin Masters
09-21-2004, 07:44 AM
I have a 7 year old who has been training for about 2 years. He's homeschooled so the only bully he has to deal with is me :D.
I think that Aikido is a good long-term solution but it won't neccessarily protect your son right away. As I recall back to when I was in grade school the typical bully attack is shoving or shoulder-punching. Kids like to try out moves they see on WWF.

If anything your son will learn to fall safely so he won't get hurt so bad when they knock him down. His Aikido teacher might also be able to give him some useful advice.

Good luck.

Greg Jennings
09-21-2004, 07:44 AM
Hi Tanya,

I would look for a school that specifically addresses bullying. I'm looking into this program for my kids and for potentially starting a kids class at my dojo. I hope this helps.

web site: www.martialartsforpeace.com
email: mapp8@aol.com
phone: 1-800-848-6021

Best regards,

Dustin Saint-John
09-21-2004, 05:52 PM
Hello Tanya im new to Aikido ive only been there for about a month. It has become my passion, its not that i was bullied. If he us bullied then i thinkj it would be a great art to learn for him.He will learn to be peaceful and yet how to defend.

Dustin Saint-John

George S. Ledyard
09-21-2004, 07:16 PM
Three different stories:
One of my advanced kids was in high school when he was accosted by five gang banger wanna bees. The alpha dog picked a fight which he tried repeatedly to walk away from. Finally, the guy tore my student's jacket restraining him from leaving. My student hit him with a front snap kick (not strictly Aikido but part of what I had taught them in class) and knocked the guy flat. He got up again and came forward and my student knocked him falt again with a straight punch. This ended the fight. This also had its effects on the other fellows who suddenly decided that they weren't so interested in being tough guys. However, my student was suspended along with the other fellow because of the school's zero tolerance policy. I had a talk with his father and we both agreed he hadn't done anything wrong so we supported him. I did ask him why he hadn't tried any of the standard Aikido non-striking technqiues which he knew rather than striking and he basically said that he was really worried that the other guys were going to jump in and he wanted to be as decisive as possible to dissuade them. I couldn't argue with his logic but the school didn't want to hear about it (on the other hand they weren't too hard on him either since he was acting in self defense).

Story two:
Another of my students, about 11 years old was on the play ground when two bullies started hitting him. He did in fact use his Aikdio and handled himself just fine, he dumped each of them several times but didn't injure either of them. He even managed to throw one of them with a shoulder throw when he jumped on his back. This boy's parents both trained with me and each had a Brown belt in Aikido. Anyway, the folks at the school totally freaked out! His teacher asked the parents "how they could allow a child to know such things?". They went to the principle and argued their case but the principal was far more concerned that their son knew how to take care of himself than he was about the fact that two bullies were beating him up and that the playground supervision had obviously been lax. The parents were so upset about this extreme example of political correctness that called for their son to be beat up rather than defend himself that they pulled him from the school and home schooled him.

Story Three:
This student was about 13 and had been enrolled in Aikido specifically because had self image problems and a lack of confidence. A bully was punching him out in the school yard. he took a couple of hits when it dawned on him that he could use his Aikido. Now he was only a yellow belt and I wouldn't have said that he knew enough to actually do it but he put the guys in a wrist lock and dumped him on his rear end than he pinned him. The bully was cursing up a storm when the principal arrived in the scene. The bully was suspended but my student was congratulated because he hadn't struck back and had only acted defensively (clearly a different attitude at this school than the other one). A secondery benefit to all this was that my student who had previously lacked confidence was suddenly something of a hero about the school because no one understood what he had done but they knew it was cool...

So I have to say that I have been quite happy that what I had taught my students had served them well in each case when they needed it but one can clearly see that there is a wide range of reaction on the part of the school authorities. In our culture there is a certain segment of the population which basically believes that law and order is something imposed by professionals from outside. They do not beieve that one should be able to defend oneself. They are horrified when someone has skills in this area even though they might be quite justified in using them. It would be a good idea to have a chat with the school folks and get an idea what their opinion is on these matters. It is also important that you have an understanding with your child about exactly what circumstances he is allowed to use his training. Let him know that if he mis-uses what he is taught in an abusive way he''ll be grounded till adult-hood. My kids in the dojo get that lecture from me.

Michael Young
10-02-2004, 07:25 PM
Hello Ledyard Sensei,

My wife (Shawn, I'm sure you remember her from summer camp) is one of our Children's Class instructors at our Dojo. She has a great rapport with the kids and they really love to have her teach...I know, because if she can't make class for some reason or other and I fill in, the first and last things the kids always ask is "When is Ms. Shawn coming back?"...I'm not so sure what that says about me :D .
As with most things in Aikido, the experience of teaching the kids is a learning experience for her. She too, has had a talk with them on a few occasions about the inappropriateness of fighting, and the when it is or isn't justify able to defend oneself. I am curious as to whether you give any kind of "ultimatum" to your child students about fighting or using their Aikido inappropriately? Have you set any kind of "punishment" or "repercussions" in the event that you find out one of the children have gotten into a fight? Or do you feel it is better to handle something like this in a "one on one" basis only with an offending child? Obviously, if there is a problem of this nature, it would need to be dealt with individually. But I guess what I'm getting at is, do you have any kind of general set policy that you tell the children and parents?
Always good to get a point of view from someone of experience.



10-03-2004, 04:32 PM
both my daugthers take class ones a jr san dan the other a jr ni dan there ages are 14 and 13. aikido has made a huge differance in there attitude and there confidence. they know they can't do much about name calling, but people putting there hands on them won't happen .the bulling they had earlier on has made them want to learn more .oh the problems they had the 14 year old she had problems because someone didn't want her being friends with another friend the 13 year old she smiles to much, really. if someone wants to bully you theres nothing to trivial to do it over. we tried all the proper chanels first but to no resolve. the school system has a no hit policy and so do my kids