Back to school jitters are even worse when someone is dealing with a bully.
According to StopBullying.gov, 28 percent of U.S. students in grades 6-12 experience bullying. Family Martial Arts is looking to knock down those numbers by teaching kids verbal and physical skills to stand up to any bully.
‘Talk, tell, tackle;’ that is the message Jason Wilcox teaches the kids at his Bully-Proof summer camp.
Wilcox said bullying is an epidemic in schools, so he made it his mission to give kids the skills to defend themselves.
“We teach kids verbal assertiveness techniques so they can shut the bully down, so they don’t ever have to use physical violence,” Wilcox said. “But we also teach kids the physical techniques that they can learn and use to defend themselves so that they have the confidence to stand up if they would need to as a last resort.”
That is where ‘talk, tell, tackle’ comes into play. Wilcox said if someone is being bullied, the first step is to talk to the bully and tell them to stop being a bother.
Then if the bullying continues, tell a parent or teacher. If it escalates to physical violence, then use the self defense techniques.
However, Wilcox said the most effective tool against a bully is confidence.
“A bully looks at a kid like that, they recognize the confidence, and they move on to the next kid who doesn’t have the confidence,” Wilcox explained.
The first technique campers practice is looking someone in the eye and telling them to never bother them again.
Wilcox said that drill alone, changes everything for those kids.
Young camper, Cullen Bingley said, “I feel really confident that if I get bullied, I could fight back and stand up for myself.”
Some campers, like 12-year-old Ally Davis, said martial arts does not just help them face bullies, but any challenges in life; even something as scary as cancer.
“They’re trying to bring you down just like cancer is, but in martial arts you’re teaching yourself to raise yourself back up, and that’s what taught me to raise myself up and keep on fighting until the end,” Davis said.
The camp is based on the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Bully-Proof program. It is specifically designed for kids ages 6 to 12. No previous experience is necessary to participate.