Self Defense for Kids

The Most Important Self-Defense Tool

Posted by on Nov 19, 2012 in Self Defense for Kids, Self-Defense | Comments Off on The Most Important Self-Defense Tool

  Many assume the goal of self-defense study is to train one’s body to hurt another if necessary.  That is part of it.  But, in fact, the most important part of your body to use for self-defense is your brain.  Choices you make, and things you say, increase or decrease the likelihood of you needing to physically defend yourself. Today, I’ll talk about something instructors consider the most important piece of self-defense advice:  Be properly aware of your surroundings. There is a tool to teach this, called the color code of awareness, which I believe was created by a firearms training instructor. White is the code for being insufficiently aware of your surroundings, due to either mental distractions or a sincere belief that nothing dangerous could possibly be nearby. Yellow is the code for the proper amount of awareness when not in danger–noticing sights, sounds, and smells such that, if anything dangerous developed, you’d be likely to notice it in time to avoid it. Orange is the code for noticing something potentially dangerous, therefore paying attention to it most, but not exclusively. Red is the code for deciding something is dangerous, deserves almost all of your attention, and requires action on your part.  Black is the code for deciding the action you must take is to hurt someone.  Mistakes in awareness include both being in too low a level and being in too high a level, possibly missing a greater danger. Recently, I went through a few levels of awareness while walking my neighborhood with my 4-year-old daughter.  Many her age spend much time in “white,” thinking about imaginary friends or bugs on the sidewalk.  But, I guess I’ve trained her well; because she doesn’t.  In fact, a few weeks ago I was walking in the white level of awareness–texting–and she, being appropriately “yellow,” moved to “orange” and said “Here comes a guy.” I looked up from my phone to see a stranger about to start a conversation. Anyway, on the walk I’m referring to now, we were about to pass a house with several small dogs which I expected to bark at us.  Not feeling very confident about the fence at this particular house (patched in several places) I asked my 4-year-old to hold my hand and told her to expect some dogs to bark. They did; but the fence held fine.  As is a good habit when in orange awareness evaluating a potential threat, I glanced around to make sure we weren’t putting ourselves in any danger by paying too much attention to the barking-but-contained dogs.  I found we were:  Two similar, ankle-biter-looking, uncontained dogs were approaching fast from our other side. Moving to red awareness, I took action by squeezing her hand, pulling her behind my right leg, and trying to stay between her and the loose dogs while we moved past that house. Meanwhile, I mentally reviewed what I teach in my defense-against-dogs class, in case I needed to “go to black” and strike one.  I did not. I hope these dogs eventually found their way home; and, I hope this story sticks in the back of your mind and helps you keep an appropriate level of awareness as you move through your daily life, occasionally finding potential dangers, and sometimes needing to take action to protect yourselves. Marcy Shoberg is the creator of “Bring Out Your Inner Bodyguard in Two Weeks or Less” home study course for adults and seniors. See www.theselfdefenselady.com. Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook share via Reddit Share with Stumblers Tweet about it Subscribe to the comments...

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Self-Defense: Even a Child can Learn

Posted by on Sep 17, 2012 in Self Defense for Kids, Self-Defense | 1 comment

      Young children can be taught about self-defense, both to protect them from danger now, and to start them on a path to being able to protect themselves as adults.  They need to know that they can and should use adults to help them stay safe. Adults, however, can’t completely depend on anyone but themselves for protection.             For example, a young child should walk near grown-ups if around cars, since drivers have an easier time seeing the taller adults.  Also, kids should know that sometimes listening to a parent or guardian‘s “Come here now!” is necessary for their safety.  I use a code word to indicate when immediately following my instructions is a safety issue, and not just my usual dislike of inefficiency. This is word or phrase I wouldn’t normally use, that I say when I need my kids to hurry because of something like a loose dog walking towards us or a fight about to break out in our vicinity. Both adults and kids need to know that recognizing what type of self-defense situation a person is in can help them find the easiest way out of it. If a situation is recognized to be an accidental confrontation, seeing the situation from the other party’s point of view, instead of arguing back, is best.  Also, if a situation is recognized to be territorial, it’s important to notice that one has the option to leave, instead of fighting. The predatory situation may require slightly different instruction for kids. Anyone can face danger from bullies or abductors; but children are especially ready to learn the basics of protecting one’s self from these types of dangers. They need to know that there are ways to avoid seeming easy or fun for a bully to pick on, and ways to stand up for one’s self without getting into a fight. Too, kids need to know that there are bad guys out there who might try to take them someplace secret and do painful things to them. They especially need to know that a bad guy like this might be a stranger, might be someone they know, and might act friendly. Children should learn that they can use their brain, body, and voice to get away from someone who they’ve decided could be dangerous. I struggle to decide if all children need to be taught how to use various body parts to hit people.  On the one hand, it’s probably true that more children than adults can’t be trusted to remember never to hit in anger. On the other hand, for all other members of the animal kingdom, childhood is when one learns to use their body for self-protection. At the very least, kids should be taught that playing rough can be fun; and that a person may, at some point in their life, need to hurt someone else to protect themselves. I also think children should be taught a few things about how to protect themselves from animals they are likely to encounter, if for no other reason than to prevent irrational fear. Finally, children should be taught that being scared when you are in danger is normal and can help a person protect themselves; but, feeling scared when you are not in danger is silly and a waste of time and energy.   Marcy Shoberg is the creator of “Bring Out Your Inner Bodyguard in Two Weeks or Less” home study course for adults and seniors. See www.theselfdefenselady.com. Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook share via Reddit Share with Stumblers Tweet about it Subscribe to the...

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The Least Kids Need to Know About Self Defense

Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Self Defense for Kids, Self-Defense | Comments Off on The Least Kids Need to Know About Self Defense

Kids need to know that using “self defense” means protecting themselves from someone who tries to hurt their body or feelings.  Kids need to know that it’s good to stand up for yourself, and not good to let someone hurt you.  All people need to believe that they can successfully protect themselves from danger.  But, kids especially need to know that asking an adult for help is a great way to do this. Kids need to know that while kicks and punches are fun to practice, they are not good to use in self defense.  It could happen to a person that, some time in their life, they have no other choice and must hit someone in self defense. But, whenever a person hits another, people get hurt, and people get in trouble (fighting sport excepted).  The best “things” to use in self defense are good choices of how to act and what to “say” with your words and your body language. If a kid knows how to tell what kind of self defense situation they are in (accidental confrontation, territorial, or predatory), they can more easily choose the right way to defend with words. Most kids understand “accidental confrontation” when I ask them this question: “Have you ever seen it happen, with your friends, where somebody gets mad, and somebody says something mean, and the others person gets mean back, and after a while they end up in a fight?”  “When this happens,” I tell them, “try to be the person who calms it down, not the one who makes it worse.” To explain “territorial,” I ask: “Have you ever gone to a playground, went to climb on a thing, and a kid who got there before you acted like it was all theirs and you couldn’t use it?” “In this situation,” I explain, “you could leave or you could try to explain to them that they aren’t being fair.  It depends on how much they are acting like they are about to punch you.” The explanation of “predatory” starts with predatory animals. If a wolf is going to try to get a sheep for lunch, he looks at the whole flock for a while and chooses one he thinks he can easily catch.  For example, a bad guy who wants to rob somebody will look for a person they can sneak up on who looks like they have something valuable. A bad guy who wants to steal a kid (or grown woman) will look for a person who will let them walk up and start making friends. Grown women can make their own choice about talking to strangers, but a kid should never talk to an adult they don’t know unless they are standing with an adult in charge of them. The kind of predator that kids encounter most, so should know the most about, is a bully.  A bully is someone who hurts or scares another, for their own fun, knowing the person wants them to stop. A bully chooses a victim that is alone, not confident, and fun to pick on.  Kids need to know that they are safer from bullies if they play near other kids, stand up straight, and look at people’s faces. Kids need to know that the first way to defend against a bully is to not get what the bully is trying to make them, whether it is sad, mad, or scared.  Boy, I wish I knew that in elementary school.  You see, if a bully tries to make you mad, and you get mad, they’ll enjoy it and bully...

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All about School Bullies

Posted by on Mar 11, 2012 in Self Defense for Kids, Self-Defense | Comments Off on All about School Bullies

A while back, my daughter brought home a pamphlet, about bullies, from her school.  I was curious to see if their advice matched with mine.  At first, I thought it was complete junk.  It said something like “tell your child to try standing up to the bully just once because some bullies feed off of this type of interaction.”  I thought, what should the victim do the rest of the time?  get punched? But, then I decided that they might have been talking about a name calling bully, not a punching bully.  And, the writers of the pamphlet had no reason to assume that the readers knew how to stand up for themselves without escalating the situation.   So, if a person tried standing up for themselves and it escalated the situation that time, it might be best if they tried something different the next time, since they might be the kind of kid who can’t figure out how to stand up for themselves without escalating the situation.  As I’ve taught bullying to kids, I’ve noticed that the kind that gets picked on the most is usually the kind that escalates the situation when they try to stand up for themselves. For example, I’ve taught classrooms full of kids to tell a bully “leave me alone.”  And, it’s always the one who doesn’t look at people’s faces, and doesn’t sit close to any other kid, and is terrified when it’s their turn, who gets it wrong and says “You’d better leave me alone or else.” The real problem, however, is that you can’t fit what parents and kids need to know about bullies into a three-fold-brochure type pamphlet. Name-calling bullies need to be handled differently from punching bullies.  Been-picking-on-you-for-years bullies need to be handled differently from testing-you-out bullies.  A “gang” of bullies needs to be handled differently from an individual bully, etc. I must applaud the pamphlet from my daughter’s school for one thing, though.  It was focused on what the victim of bullying should do.  Lots of people focus on stopping the bullies.  While that would be a great thing to do, it’s just not likely to happen for two reasons. One, the bully doesn’t know they are a bully.  They think they are just telling the truth, or just having fun, or just being “cool.”  The victim however, usually knows they are a victim.  Two, the bully isn’t internally motivated to change the situation. By that I mean that the bully doesn’t have many compelling reasons that it would benefit them to stop being a bully.  The victim, however, is very motivated to change their situation and might even be willing to listen to an adult’s advice about it. It’s tricky to empower the victim, and change the victim, but not blame the victim.  Kids who are bullied often believe they deserve the bullying.  They never do. But, they have a better chance to change their situation than anyone else does.  And, even if we did find a way to make kids not bully other kids while they are at school, the kind of kid who ends up being a victim of bullies at school would still be the victim of bullies outside of school and probably in their workplace, and maybe even their house, as adults. I’m working on a personal plan, not to stop bullying, but to stop victiming. One part of my plan is to teach courses at Las Cruces Self Defense that teach kids how to deal with name-calling bullies, about-to-punch-you bullies, and grab-your-shoulder-from-the-back bullies.  This would most benefit kids who are not already...

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How Taekwondo Changed my Life (by Master Marcy Shoberg & others)

Posted by on Dec 28, 2011 in Self Defense for Kids, Self-Defense, Taekwondo Class Topics | Comments Off on How Taekwondo Changed my Life (by Master Marcy Shoberg & others)

Many other instructors of my age and rank began martial art as a result of the Karate Kid movie.  Myself, I was a green belt when it came out.  It’s the only movie my dad and I ever saw together. I also didn’t decide to join Taekwondo to learn to protect myself.  I fantasized about using my Taekwondo to beat up enemies of some sort, but I never had that opportunity. But, after reading the ”Memoirs of a Bullied Kid”  I now have an answer for “How Taekwondo Has Changed my Life.” I considered myself one of the least popular kids in my elementary school. (I had us ranked in my head like in Diary of a Wimpy Kid.)  I even did–like I tell the kids to do–privately tell those below me I was sorry I never stood up for them because I was so relieved whenever I wasn’t being picked on. Girls who I considered my friends bullied me verbally and socially.  I made all of the mistakes of looking at the floor, not smiling, and making a big deal out of it when they pushed my buttons. Anyway, the guy who wrote “Memoirs of a Bullied Kid” says that when his life really got bad was when he began to define himself by what his bullies called him.  When he accepted the labels they gave him, he lost all self esteem.  He’s lucky he survived and now is some kind of self-esteem expert. As I read it I realized that Taekwondo gave me an identity outside of elementary school.  It was an identity I could be proud of.  Even as we went to middle school and I started hanging out with different friends than those who had bullied me, I still, at school, thought of myself as unpopular.   Years later I ran into some guys from middle school  and was completely shocked when they said, back then, they decided they must be cool because I went to their party once. The thing about Taekwondo class that lets bullied kids overcome their labels is that there are people of all ages and backgrounds together, and everyone is too busy improving themselves to bully others.   If a bullied kid spends all of their time with other kids from school, or hiding in their room,  they can begin to think that’s how life is.  Doing Taekwondo gave me positive social interaction and  let me see a wider perspective on life and my future that many bullied kids lack.   Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook share via Reddit Share with Stumblers Tweet about it Subscribe to the comments on this...

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Why Preschoolers Should Study at GMTKD

Posted by on May 7, 2011 in Self Defense for Kids, Taekwondo Class Topics | Comments Off on Why Preschoolers Should Study at GMTKD

Why Preschoolers Should Study at GMTKD

This post may actually cover why pre-schoolers should study martial art in general.  But, since I don’t know exactly what any particular teacher would teach their preschoolers, I’m only sure it applies to myself and my martial arts school. When I began teaching Taekwondo, I specialized in the youngest kids (5 & 6, at that time), maybe because the other instructors didn’t want to teach them. I remember what a big deal it was when I first let a 3-year-old join class (Caitlyn gave up diapers after I used that as an excuse to not let her go to class with her brother).  Now, I even teach 2-year-olds, if their parents will stay on the mat with them.  I think, in the old days, we all assumed that we were supposed to teach the preschoolers the same things we taught the older kids and adults, with the same goal of creating martial artists.  I now realize that, even if we are teaching them the same moves we are teaching kids and adults, we aren’t teaching them the same things. With my old thinking, I was surprised by how many parents want to enroll their pre-schooler in martial arts.  I think most of these parents feel like “my kid is finally old enough to take a class, I’d better hurry and sign them up for something.” I don’t really remember why this used to bother me, but now I embrace it. I think most of the parents want their kid to have the experience of learning a skill, rather than want their child to begin a life long study of martial arts.  I also think this “experience” is the  most important benefit a pre-schooler gains from taking a martial ats class.  For them to know that they know how to do something that most people in the world don’t know how to do has got to build their self esteem.  If we can start kids off with high self esteem, we can make a real difference in thier lives.  High self esteem may prevent them from being bullied.  It will certainly prevent them from being permanently emotionally damaged by any bullying they experience. Although I’m not a child psychologist, it seems to me that age 2 to 6 might be when a child becomes self aware and starts forms opinions about who they are that can last a lifetime. Based on what I teach this age group, I expect the kids in my class to begin to think of themselves as a person who  is physically active stands up for themselves with words and body language has the confidence to let others see them make mistakes can learn to do many things with their bodies Developing an awareness of how to control multiple parts of your body at the same time is another great benefit of martial arts for preschoolers.  As they try to learn where to put their arms while they kick and what to do with their legs while they practice punches and blocks, they are probably creating connections in their brain that will help them become “coordinated” kids, teens, and adults.  The importance of being coordinated in sports is obvious; but, let’s not underestimate the importance of coordination in safety and social life: it can prevent falls, car accidents, bad dancing and lots of other things. To summarize what I’ve learned over the last 25 years of teaching martial arts to kids younger than most instructors would try to teach: We may start some of them on a path of life long study of martial arts, we may teach some of them things that they someday use in self...

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