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Martial Arts Equips Traverse City Kids With The Tools To Stop Bullying

In Traverse City, bullying is as prevalent now in the schools as it was a decade or more ago, if not worse. The statistics are staggering nationally about the wide spread nature of bullying and its devastating impact on the victims. Those targeted by bullies do not want to go to school, they dread the bus rides, they fear walking between classes and hate recess. Martial arts, however, is turning the tide in Traverse City.

At the Seung-ni Martial Arts Academy located in Traverse City, where I instruct, I work with parents and students continually to battle the negative effects of bullying. At Seung-ni, we teach the martial arts of Taekwondo, Hapkido and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Taekwondo (sometime referred to as Korean Karate) is a traditional Korean martial art that focuses on striking and kicking and is strong against multiple attackers and well suited for those small in stature. Hapkido, another Korean martial art, specializes in self-defense against an attacker who grabs you. Lastly, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ) focuses on how to protect yourself from an attacker on the ground. All three of these martial arts are great and work in perfect harmony to provide Traverse City kids with all the tools to protect themselves from a bully regardless of the tactics employed.

Our philosophy at Seung-ni is not to have our Traverse City martial arts students getting in fights and using physical force to beat up the bully. Just the opposite is true. Simply put, most bullying can be stopped by a kid who has unshakeable self-confidence. But, the type of confidence to stand up to a bully cannot be bluffed it must have a strong foundation. That foundation is the tool box of martial arts techniques and training (and the knowledge of the martial artist that if a fight were to occur he or she would be victorious due to their skills). In other words, a student of martial arts can stand down a bully without physical violence generally with just their confidence and assertive response to the bully’s initial attack. And, in that rare instance when the bully persists – the young Traverse City martial arts student will be fully capable of defending themselves. And, as fast as news spreads at a school, this expert demonstration of their Taekwondo, Hapkido or Brazilian Jiu-jitsu skills usually never needs to be repeated.

A good example of the Seung-ni Martial Art’s philosophy in action occurred several years ago with a young female student who attends a Traverse City school. This Seung-ni student was getting verbally, mentally and physically bullied on a daily basis by another girl. She stopped wanting to go to school because of it. She enrolled in the Seung-ni Academy and started in the Beginning Child Taekwondo class learning a vast array of martial art skills. She was a quiet nice kid who was raised in a house where it was stressed to be polite to others and hope that others would treat her the same. Her Traverse City bully was raised otherwise. So in addition to her martial arts training, every time I would see her in the Seung-ni Academy lobby, I would give her a shove and call her a pretend mean name. At first, she just coward back and struggled to respond. But in time, just like with her improving Taekwondo kicks and blocks she began to gain her voice, confidence and found her presence. Within several months, she was responding to my fake bullying attacks by jumping into her martial arts guarding stance (body sideways, fists up, chin down and strong game face on) and she would yell loud “don’t bully me, I don’t like it!” Not long after, following one of her martial arts classes, her mother told me (with a tear in her eye) that her daughter had effectively stood up to the bully and no longer hated school. And, not only had the bullying stopped but the bully now wanted to be her friend. Amazing the power of martial arts.

Traverse City kids face the demoralizing impact of bullying just like all children across the country. But, at the Seung-ni Martial Arts Academy, young Traverse City students are becoming empowered and using their Taekwondo, Hapkido and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu training to not only protect themselves but hopefully put the bullies on the defense.

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