There are always jerks.
No matter how old you are, what you do, or where you are in your life, that one thing remains true. They exist just as much at work when you’re an adult as they do in school when you’re a kid. There are just some people out there who feel the need to assert themselves over others.
They are cowards.
They prey on people who are weaker than them, or at least appear to be weaker than them. They prey on people who don’t carry themselves well and who don’t stand tall. Who don’t look people in the eye, don’t speak loudly, and whose body language is, frankly, weak.
Often when parents bring their children to the dojang, it’s because they’re being bullied. They usually think that we’re going to teach their child about fighting and standing up for themselves, like that will solve the problem.
Of course, we do teach self-defense techniques. Everybody knows that. But the skills that truly address how to deal with bullies have nothing to do with kicking, punching, blocking, or sparring.
We want to immediately introduce our new students into the school’s culture of confidence. We start with a lot about body language in our training and introductory lessons. We make people stand tall. We don’t let them lean against walls or poles. We make sure that when they’re standing, their head is up. When we shake hands, we make sure to look each other in the eye. We teach students about walking down the center of the hallway, instead of along the wall.
We want to try and address bullying by stopping it before it even starts. We believe that if you instill these character values into a young person, it takes the target off of their backs. A bully will recognize that this person is not weak, and is not to be messed with.
If a bully does start to mess with you, we teach that you need to meet them directly and with an immediate, overwhelming response. But that response is NOT about punching, kicking, or hitting them. What it really means is that you snap back, stand up, talk loud, even yell, and make sure that they know that they messed with the wrong person.
Fighting is always the last resort. Too many bad things can happen in a fight. Accidents can happen, people can be severely, permanently injured. Lawsuits can result. It can be a mess.
I have had too many situations where a student is being bullied, and I tell them not to fight. But the problem persists, and I talk to their principal or vice principal about having the situation rectified. Even then, sometimes they don’t have either the time or the interest to help. So, in those instances, I tell the student, “okay, you’re going to have to get into a fight, and you might get into trouble for that.”
Schools say they have a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to fighting, but they don’t really. If they did, the person who threw the first punch, the bully, would be suspended or expelled. Instead, they let the fight go, and then both students get in trouble.
I have students come in and talk to me about bullying all the time. And my advice as to what techniques they should use to deal with it are as unique as the students themselves. Each situation is different, and each student is different, so a “one size fits all” approach just won’t cut it.
This is especially true now that we know that bullying takes on many forms. Cyberbullying, for instance, is just as harmful, if not more so, than physical bullying, and a lot more prevalent these days. The core lessons we teach, though, can combat cyberbullying as well.
Developing a very strong self-image and sense of self-worth, taking on a strong posture, all these things will help people overcome bullying, no matter what form it takes.
Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!