I have in my life had my fair share of scrapes and battles, but perhaps the worst was when I was 11 years of age.
Now you need to understand this- I have spent 20 years in law enforcement, fought in numerous boxing and judo matches. Had my nose broken on the street, half of my front tooth is missing from being punched and I have even been bitten by a human being (I am not sure he deserves that title but still science says he is one).
So after all of this why would an incident when I was 11 be the most impactive of my life and why now does it still feel like yesterday?
Fight or Flight
I was at school when a lad took a dislike to me, I was in what we in the UK call year 7 so I was 11 years of age and it was my first year at High school. I had come from a small primary school which was filled with mostly middle class families and all the children were actually really decent kids.
High school was however a different matter. All of a sudden I was mixed with children who had grown up with a very different background and in my school violence was a heavy feature of school politics. It wasn’t about how ‘trendy’ you were or how good you were at sports it is all about ‘how hard you were’.
At high school children can almost have 11 months difference in age yet still be in the same age group and at that age real differences in physical size and strength are often the deciding factors in the toughness rating of a child. I am not afraid to say that I was not the biggest of children. I was just a nice little boy wanting to go to school and be liked.
So when the school ‘bad boy’ took a dislike to me one day and told me he was going to hit me at the end of the week I felt for the first time in my life very scared.
Looking back at this event it is plain to see that some kids are just plain nasty, now it might be their upbringing or the nature v nurture debate but I think I am experienced to know that at 11 kids know right from wrong. The desire of this child to place me in fear for a whole week was the work of a calculated individual, a classic bully.
The week passed and as I was walking home with a few friends it happened.
At first, I could hear the roar of the crowd as 50 kids came running towards me all wanting to see a fight. This was a group of kids up to the age of 15 who all wanted to see some action and this nasty piece of work had gathered a crowd to see his handy work.
So he came to me, and he said: “come on then let’s fight”. But I didn’t want to and said no. I then carried on walking.
The group followed and he kept pushing and asking, and I kept on walking holding my 1990’s style sports holdall on my shoulder.
Still, I wouldn’t fight- I had no desire, or wish to engage in a fight with someone. I wasn’t a fighter.
The boy hit me in my ear, and it hurt a lot. I was walking, not doing anything even with this huge crowd following and then it happened. The boy who had been aggressive just gave up.
The penny had dropped and that I didn’t want a fight and I heard the words “He isn’t going to fight me, I’m going”.
But the crowd had come to watch a fight and at that moment an older boy who I had never met or seen before came forward and went ahead and said: “well if you’re not going to beat him up I will.”
I was then battered to pillar and post by this physically far stronger, older and bigger male which ended up with me being head butted and dumped on the floor. I had a black eye and blood running out of my mouth.
At just 11 years of age, I had been taught there and then just how cruel people can be.
It Won’t Happen To My Child
If you are reading this and there is a lump in your throat worry not. I had a few more beatings over the years, and this ultimately got me involved in the martial arts and as a result the beating stopped when I was able to hit back! I guess lead me to become a cop!
Times change I guess, and I hope that the world is a better pace then this video came to light the other day:
This was pure nasty behaviour by this girl.
So after 20 years in the martial arts and police, there is one thing I can tell you, I do not want my son to become a victim of any kind of attack however it can happen and if it does I want him to be able to look after himself.
This is not the same as teaching my child to fight. That is the difference between a morally responsible person and someone who is just violent. I want my son to be able to protect himself and others, to stand up for others being attacked or bullied and be able to say ‘No. Stop that’.
But he won’t get that kind of education at school! I know this and as a result, I also know that children today need that education.
Stats according to “Ditch the label” who are a bullying charity that produced a 2015 bullying report on the subject:
50% of young people have bullied another person, 30% of which do it at least once a week.
69% of young people have witnessed somebody else being bullied, 43% of which see it at least once a week.
43% of young people have been bullied, 44% of which are bullied at least once a week.
Appearance is cited as the number 1 aggressor of bullying, with 51% saying they were bullied because of attitudes towards how they look.
26% said their weight was targeted, 21% body shape, 18% clothing, 14% facial features, 9% glasses and 8% hair colour.
23% a females with ginger hair cited their hair colour as the bullying aggressor.
Overall, 47% of young people want to change their appearance. 48% want teeth whitening, 17% breast implants, 6% liposuction and 5% botox.
74% of those who have been bullied, have, at some point been physically attacked. 17% have been sexually assaulted. 62% have been cyber bullied.
As a result of bullying, 29% self harmed, 27% skipped class, 14% developed an eating disorder and 12% ran away from home.
Highest risk to bullying were the following groups: all types of disability, LGBT and low income backgrounds.
40% of respondents reported being bullied for personal appearance 36% reported being bullied for body shape, size and weight.
Of those who were bullied, 98% were bullied by another student, 17% from a sibling, 13% from a teacher and 8% from their parents/guardians.
55% reporting bullying. 92% to a teacher, 49% were satisfied. 86% to a family member, 82% were satisfied. 69% to a friend, 72% were satisfied.
45% did not report bullying. 32% of which felt it would not be taken seriously, 32% were too embarrassed and 26% were scared of it getting worse.
Those who have bullied were more likely to be in trouble with the Police (36%) vs. witnesses to bullying (23%) and those who have been bullied (22%).
So who does the current parent turn to to educate their child? Well martial arts has always and traditionally been a method to try and get children to deal with aggressors against themselves. In my personal experience these curriculum’s vary in quality and quality.
Finding a Good Quality Martial Arts School
I had a call once from a friend as he had a terrible experience at a martial arts club. Here is what happened:
He told me that he took his son to a kick boxing club and they told him he had to be left there as parents weren’t allowed to stay. He was reluctant but his son really wanted to learn some self defence skills so he gave in. An hour later he came back and saw all the other kids coming out but not his son. His heart was beating he told me as he felt something wasnt right. So he actually went into the club to check.
Inside his son was crying and had blood coming from his nose, so the father asked what had happened. The coach told him that he had put him into some sparring and an other boy punched him in the nose hard.
Now the son never went back and might not have tried martial arts again, and this is not an isolated incident. I know that this type of thing is rife in martial arts clubs. To some this ‘let em get hit, its the only way to learn’ attitude is right. For me I don’t believe it is.
A good martial arts and self defence school will be about education and skill. This is not about learning to take a beating.
My personal history regarding Defence Lab is well documented at www.theselfdefencexpert.com, I have been writing about it for some time because it really is that good! After 20 years in martial arts and the police I have never been so impressed by anything like DL which is why the new DL Kids programme is the self defence system I want my son (and daughter when shes older) to learn.
DL Kids- Breaking new ground in the Exercise for Children Industry
When I first came across the DL brand and Andy Norman and Paul Strauther came to see me to tell me more about it. I also got to see their kids programme which had been running in a few select locations at first and is expanding globally now.
I was blown away because this wasn’t like any normal type of system I had seen. At its heart was the same amazing techniques from the adults Defence lab but shown in a massively different way.
There was a focus on behaviour, mental stimulation, exercise and of course self defence skills. It wasn’t about learning to fight it was actually focused on child development and self defence skills. With a range of games and drills that clearly had a lot of time and energy behind them.
This was when I realised I had found the best exercise system for my child and I have already started to teach him at home in preparation for the launch of my own Lab. Already he is hooked and very often I see him doing some shape shifting in the front room when he thinks I am not looking.
But he does Judo- Yes those that know me will know that I take my son to Judo lessons. Yes I think Judo has amazing things to offer as well which is why he goes there. Judo is a sport where my son can compete and I think that is important, I would actually rather he did Judo instead of football but a time will come where he will choose for himself what he wants to do. However for self defence I think Defence Lab has the most amazing qualities and will add huge value to his life and his ability to protect himself.
What you chose for your child really is up to you but my personal recommendation is Defence Lab.
A few of you reading this will assume that I am making this up, perhaps I have even been paid to say this but please let me make this clear. I am allowed to write whatever I wish on this blog and I have been offered plenty of courses with other organisations but out of all of them it is Defence Lab that I want my son to go to. I think that speaks volumes about what I think about Defence Lab and its DL Kids Programme.
Until next time folks check out the new DL Kids video below: