May 17, 2014

Addressing Bullying

There was a conversation on the "forum that shall not be named" recently about bullying. I was subjected to bullying when I was younger (pre-teens into early teens), so I have some experience of this and wanted to offer my thoughts.

I have no idea why anyone wanted to bully me. At that age I was rapidly closing in on being six foot tall. I wasn't super hunky yet, but I certainly wasn't a wimp, being on the rugby team in my first year of senior school (that's middle school for my American readers). Yet I was bullied. And because I wasn't small and didn't immediately give in, I was bullied by anywhere from four to six bad guys at a time.

The normal advice given to people concerning bullies is to stand up to them and fight back. This is good advice, when followed in the manner that I explained recently, but not for the reason that most people think. Not understanding the principle behind the advice means that when fighting back doesn't seem to work, they are confused and don't know what to do.

The stereotype of the bully is that they are wimps and just pick on people smaller or more afraid than them. Observation shows this is not particularly true. Quite frankly many bullies are just naturally mean people. Some do come from messed up families and don't know any better, but most are just nasty and mean.

The reason the traditional advice works most of the time is that the principle it is based upon is sound. That principle is to make the effort of bullying you more trouble than it's worth. While bullies are generally not wimps, they are lazy. If you are an easy target, they will continue to pick on you. When you become too much trouble, they'll leave you alone. It's really that simple. So, your fighting back exceeds the level of trouble that many bullies are willing to accept in their pursuit of your lunch money.

When fighting back does not produce the desired result, the fundamental principle helps us understand that we have not yet exceeded the bullies tolerance for trouble. As I explained in my self-defense post, I do not approve of starting fights, but I do approve of finishing them. There is just something about quickly and decisively finishing a fight that will help all but the most stubborn of bullies decide that you need to be left alone.

The best way I know of being able to swiftly dominate an opponent, in the typical circumstances where you find bullying, is to learn a full-contact martial art. Further, I specifically recommend one of the grappling arts if possible. Judo is my number one choice, but it's hard to find clubs in many parts of the United States. Brazilian Jujitsu is another good choice, but they have less standing techniques, so choose Judo if it's available. (Some of the full contact Kungfu's, like Wing Chun are very practical for self-defense also.)

Returning to my story, I was standing up to the groups of four to six who would pick on me, but it's hard for one untrained guy to take out that many at once if he isn't Bruce Lee or Chuck Norris. I got clobbered a few times and my parents found a local Judo club and signed my brother and I up straight away. I took to Judo like a duck to water and rose swiftly through the colored belts and was invited to be an assistant instructor and then given my own class. Shortly after starting Judo the bullying went away and the rest of my time at school was delightfully uneventful. Thankfully, I never had to use my Judo at school for self-defense, it quickly became known that I was now one of those martial arts kids and the bad guys left me alone. I had succeeded in becoming more trouble to deal with than they were willing to tolerate.

Tags: Martial Arts