Parents are very familiar with the saddening headlines describing bullying, and now in 2014 many of those same parents are taking action. The subject of bullying made the top of the troubling list last year, with news stories of tragedy and playground terror sending chills up the backs of parents. The fear was for parents whose children may be classified as” smaller in size” than the average child their age. What are they doing about it? It was time to hit the streets and discuss the actions with parents in Olympia, Washington to find out some of their methods.
It was surprising to find out they were taking all type of safety measures, ranging from emergency whistles to martial arts classes. Sitting down with one parent revealed eye-opening information. The parent stated some of his concerns were that “some of these bullies are watching ultimate fighting on television and looking for someone to try it out on.” He continued, “Our whole family decided we would take self defense classes together.” Another interview lead to speaking with a mom who says her fifth grader is “a little guy” compared to his classmates. She said “we chose to enroll him in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu classes last year after watching a story about bullying on television.” She explained they chose Brazilian Jiu-jitsu over other forms of martial arts, “because it’s not striking and kicking like some of the other martial arts out there. Jiu-jitsu is more of a strategic type of wrestling.” Her excitement was evident, “So far it’s been great! He loves it, and it gives him confidence!”
The review of parental action lead to reviewing more Martial Arts schools in the area, and discovered that business is better than ever, with bigger youth classes than in previous years. Many parents are are even signing up with their kids, and making it a family affair. The review landed at the location called Brazilian Jiu-jitsu of Olympia, for a youth class. It was evident by chatting with some of the parents, and the excitement of the youth, something greater was happening. Bullying was becoming a reason for parents to take action.
There were at least thirty students spread across the matted floor in a large open gym space. The kids ranged in age from four years old to around 15-years old. After some extensive and exhaustive warm ups, and a few words from the coach, they were paired off for full contact grappling. After speaking with some of the kids in attendance, intriguing information came to surface.
It was discovered some of them had wanted to sign up for lessons, and some of them were coerced by their parents. However, all of the children conversed with seemed to be, over-all, pretty happy with the sport, though admitting it is probably not for everybody. Is the introduction of defense action needed? Is it necessary to train our children to combat violence with violence, rather than resisting it in a nonviolent way, as Martin Luther King Jr., or Gandhi? Some parents seem to think action is the way to go. Would the playground be safer if for every bully, there was a child who knew the defense of martial arts?
Editorial by Aaron Thompson