Wednesday, March 2, 2011

From There to Here

I have a rule in my house. You can do any sport you want, as long as it's karate. Yea, I can hear you all now...WOW, wacko! Kind of extreme, huh? Well, no. Not really. Here's why.

I spent a year of my youth being bullied. I mean, picked out of the crowd, harassed, name called, and physically assaulted at one point. OH, you say, you're fulfilling a lifelong vow to make sure your kids can beat up a bully. Well, no. Not really. But as my parents had no clue how to help me, and never alerted the school or the idiot's parents, I was left to deal.

Fast forward 25 years. I'd since decided to homeschool, for a myriad of reasons. My firstborn, donning the shock of red hair sure to serve as a beacon for kids of the stupid and shallow variety, was enrolled at 4 in karate. Determined that he was never going to be left on his own to deal with whatever came at him, I would make sure he had the tools and confidence to handle himself in the face of any threat.

This was when I discovered something crucial which I will bring full circle soon.

I'd been bodybuilding and powerlifting for 7 or 8 years, and people seemed to assume that I could defend myself, and I had a confidence that I could at least do some damage. Anyone with legs as strong as mine surely was not going to let anyone hurt me without getting my licks in. It must've shown in my demeanor. Little guy syndrome, let's call it. No one really knew if I could take care of myself, I just acted like I could.

But in my son, it was something different. He was not cocky like me, he was quietly confident. As he grew stronger, and I added myself and child #2 to the mix, who also grew in strength and skill, I realized that what karate gave us was far more important than the ability to turn the tables on the bad guy. It was more than the physical strength, and good health it gave us.

It made us bully proof. It took away the fear of "what if". There is a confidence, a calm sense of well being you get when you're not worried someone might push you down, grab you, hit you, call you a name, or try to intimidate you. I know this sounds harsh, but once you've been punched in the face, or kicked in the head, well, then you know what it feels like (my daughter pointed this out to me). Problem solved. Nothing in life will present you with a fear that you can't handle it with the right set of skills. So I added child #3, 4 and 5, until #6 ages a bit (we've all started a new style together..."tang soo"!!).

Now to bring it full circle. Jay Sevron, radio talk show guy, was reacting to the MA bullying law. How it would "help", whether it would help. Wanted to know our questions, thoughts. So of course, since I always have an opinion, I called, rather bemused about the whole thing. Imagine, a law banning bullying. How's that law thing working on the murder problem?

I said, Jay, a law will not stop bullies. I said, every child in America should be given self defense lessons in grade school. Karate as gym class instead of wasting time with volleyball, or whatever they do these days. He pretty much scoffed at the idea, and this is where he departed from his usual ideals and totally threw me off of my mental balance beam. He said "Why should the onus be on the victim to DO something about it (paraphrased)?" To which I replied...if you take the victim away, there can be no bully (of course he talked over me and heard nothing I said). He has his preformed opinion. I went on to say, look, cops, laws, courts, can do nothing to prevent crime, and you know this. But give a kid CONFIDENCE, and bullies can't scare or intimidate them. Again, he had me muted while he went on. An actual debate would have been nice. Imagine, kids in shape AND confident, for shame!

This blew my mind. Jay is not usually this much of a pansy. I mean, we are a Christian family. We do no harm. We love our neighbors, and treat everyone as a friend. But conversely, we will fear no man. THAT was the vow I took when I grew up. We have the ability NOT to fight. Because fear of all things is the enemy, and usually is your worst enemy. It's not that the victim has to be the one to DO something, Jay, it's that the victim won't HAVE to do anything.

He didn't get it. And that's too bad. Someday I may begin a campaign to get self defense taught in all grade schools. In the mean time, perhaps you can bully proof your kids too!