Saturday, December 28, 2019

Martial Arts

One of my youngest nephews is giving off the vibe that he is being bullied at school. Nothing solid, just lots of little signals.

The landscape for martial arts changed since I was a kid. Back then there was boxing, judo and karate.

Now there is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Krav Maga, Taekwando and Aikido and a dozen others.

Some of them are too brutal to hand to an eleven-year old boy. Others are more like stylized dancing than combat.  Nevvy doesn't need to rip off arms or crush anybody's trachea. On the other hand, he doesn't need to learn the 243 choreographed "bird" moves when the bully probably needs little more than a stiff poke in the nose with a right-cross.

Some Dojos and Sensei emphasize self-control and discipline more than others. Some focus on the mechanics more than the responsibilities.

Any guidance?


  1. His parents need to find out what's going on first, what he's up against. He's entering the puberty age, so he probably could use a shot of confidence; I would pick a style with rigorous physical conditioning, for that. Then I would suggest his dad have a private talk with the Sensei and let him know what's going on, so he can fine tune with some practical methodology. Krav Maga is very good for that part, I am told. There are a lot of things that can be done to deflect intimidation, when it starts getting physical.

  2. Location location, location.

    What is available locally?

    Judo is a great foundation upon which to build.

    Muscle memory from 25 years prior stood me in good stead at a drunken party where a larger than I bully decided to grab me.

    Push, pull, and a leg sweep and he was on his ass wondering what happened.

    He can always learn more aggressive disciplines...

  3. Tae Kwon Do was good for me as a wallflower type teenager. Go watch a couple of training sessions to get a feel for the trainers particular style.

  4. Aikido has many schools/styles. I train in a hard style (Yoshinkan) so there are more than a few strikes. Biggest things our Sensei teaches are to not make the first move and disengage when your opponent is down. Think cell phone video of the encounter, who will look like the attacker? In his eyes (as a retired cop) following them to the ground takes it from self-defense to fighting and leaves you vulnerable to your opponents friends.

    We practice joint locks (which can become a break when needed) deflections and throws.

    +1 on watching a training session or two whatever style you decide to study.

  5. BJJ and Judo probably provide the quickest path to gain effective self-defense skills.

    Also while striking arts like Krav Maga, Karate and Tae Kwon Do can be effective they take longer to learn to get to self-defense viablity imho, and tend to have a high strength factor, and look subjectively worse to a bystander/school administration in action than the control options offered by judo/BJJ. Krav is great for self-defense but not so much for a school bully situation as it tends to push for maximum damage in order to disengage, and schools really don't like the maximum damage in self-defense approach to schoolyard issues. Of course better for him to have some useful knowledge than nothing in any case.

    In short, a BJJ take-down and joint lock control doesn't look as bad to observers as kicking someone or punching them in the face looks, and the amount of potential damage can be more effectively managed while still getting the point across. Since most fights tend to go to the ground anyways, he should know how to control it from there as well.

    A lot of it will come down to how comfortable the kid is in the training environment so take the time to try out various martial arts places near you and see what he likes. If it turns out he likes Krav, boxing or BJJ, have him go with it and he can learn to apply it as necessary.

  6. As far as a school of martial arts, I'm a bit more of a Krav Maga type, but I agree with Aaron-the optics in a school setting will probably be bad.

    That said, the advice my Dad gave me was to never start a fight, but be sure you finished it. In other words, win. Bullies only understand losing.

    When I passed this on to my kids, Mrs. Freeholder, a public school teacher, just about lost it. So I explained my thoughts to her and my kids at the same time. Back when I was in school, fights were actually bad wresting matches. Now, they devolve into ground-and-pound beatings in about 2 seconds. People get hurt, sometimes seriously, occasionally permanently. I was not going to have that happen to my children. Win the fight, and then let me handle the fallout. If you didn't start it, you're off the hook at home. I'm not subject to administrative bullying and I know how to hire attorneys. I'll see the school board in court and the media.

    Worked with both kids, even in college and beyond. One guy who grabbed my daughter's butt (both hands, too) is lucky she didn't kill him. She did break his nose but good-he ducked. She was trying to push it into his brain. (Never should have taught her that move, maybe.) Cops showed up, hauled him off and comp0limented her. No one ever bothered her at work again.

  7. Judo is the art of folding clothes with the person still inside. Seriously, agree with Free and the others. What is available may determine the route he goes. And concur, find out what is going on, and talk to the Sensi.

  8. Not at all an expert on martial arts. My thought is that your nephew is a victim due to his appearing weaker or lacking confidence. As mentioned, solid conditioning program with a focus on building confidence will go a long way towards avoiding the confrontation which is in my mind superior as opposed to winning it.

    Your nephew needs to develop the mindset that his tormentor does not matter. Being able to take care of himself in the event of an attack is a bonus but the mental strength is far more important now and in his future.

    There is great advice here and having a conversation with the Sensei about the goals of any training will be very helpful in deciding which path to take.

  9. Look for something that does NOT focus on tournament play, but focuses strictly on self defense.

  10. If you have a local gym, I would start with boxing. Most USA boxing coaches are willing to pace the young boxer's training to their learning pace. Bouts are matched based on experience in the beginning. Great conditioning and great self defense training. An added bonus is that the cost of USA amateur boxing is minimal, just the annual membership fee. My kids box and wrestle, they may get picked on or run into trouble from time to time, but they have never had the same kid cause problems more than once.

    As The Freeloader mentioned, school frowns upon students defending themselves. My wife and I have had a few post fight meetings with teachers and administrators. Without exception, my kids were being scolded for defending themselves or someone weaker. The look on the administrator's face when my wife and I tell our kid job well done, rather than scolding them, is priceless.

  11. My vote is with Sean. Great combination.

  12. I'm with the boxing crew, K.I.S.


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