Friday, September 6, 2019


It is back to school time.  With that comes the thrill of having your social media feeds filled with your friend's mandatory back to school pictures.

It also means that your social media feed will be filled with "expert" advice on bullying

If you defend yourself from physical violence you are part of the problem?  You should just allow yourself to be a victim?


Seems to me that is what happened to this little fella.  Also I remember Obi Wan straight up cutting a guys arm off because he shoved his friend in a bar.  I'd imagine the reaction of child pictured above with an eye swollen shut has much less to do with the "Jedi Way" than being indoctrinated into a system that labels all violence as evil no matter how justified.  

The other arc of the bullying advice pendulum is depicted here.  Really  - only constant training in the Dojo will protect you?  The back fist a second grader practiced in Kata form for her bi-monthly belt testing is going to protect her from a sixth grader that is a foot taller and 75 lbs heavier than her?
Or maybe  - only constant training in the Dojo will protect you - is blatant fear based marketing to get that second grader's parents to buy a yearly membership to your Dojo

Granted, training at the Dojo can improve confidence.  It can also be a great place to make friends and develop social skills.  All of which have the potential to remove children from some bully's victim profile, or make it less likely for them to be bullied.  However, confidence can come from many places. One could argue that involvement in most any organized activity that the child enjoys will help develop confidence and social skills.  Constant training in the Dojo is far from the ONLY thing that will protect you from bullying.

Even if the Dojo training is very effective for dealing with interpersonal violence (you fuck with a wrestler or a judoka you are probably going to take some damage - clearly personal bias on my part but I'm just sayin') Is it coupled with: 
  • Escape?
  • Deescalation?
  • Articulation?

Is that constant training in the Dojo that will protect a child from bullies going to get that child kicked out of school?  Is an adult facing the same type of activity going to be fired if they respond with their Dojo training?

Are those consequences worth stopping the Bully's behavior?

What even is bullying?

Languaging / definitions are important.
I feel the most logical approach is to consider any consistent, targeted harassment or assault as bullying.  I fell we need to give children the tools to combat that behavior.

We must also be clear that not ever challenge you face is bullying.

Anthropologically group norms had to be enforced.  If your behavior veered too far outside the parameters of normal you became a threat to the survival of the group.  We don't survive that well on our own.  So the challenge of facing the consequences of acting outside of these norms forced growth.  You found your place in the group, you found a way to change the group, or you found a new group.  

If we sanitize life from all challenge it stunts growth, and leaves children incapable of handling anything we didn't remove from their path on their own.  No matter how well intentioned society will never be able to remove ALL of these uncomfortable challenges.

Click HERE to see Tammy Yard McCracken's live on this subject

If you are living outside of social norms, by choice, or by circumstance - gods bless you. you are on a more difficult path.  Realize that you will face challenges (these are natural and everyone no matter how "normal" must face them).  Nothing can be created with out the risk to fail.  Develop comfort in who you are as an armor against "haters".  Because as the saying goes haters gonna hate!

However, if this hate takes the form of consistent, targeted harassment or assault there may come a time when:

  • You can't escape (you have to go to school / you have to go work)
  • You can not talk your way out of it.  
  • The procedures put in place to help you do  nothing, or make the situation worse.

If you find yourself in those circumstances, do you have any training for a physical encounter?
Will a physical encounter get you in trouble? (most times always yes it will)?
Are those consequences worth stopping the Bully's behavior?
Are you willing to accept those consequences?

Train hard, train smart, be safe and when ever possible be kind.