Bullies are a reality most people will face at some point in their lives, many early in their childhood.
Violence isn’t always the answer, but neither is remaining a victim, according to Northville Taekwondo instructor Dan Vigil.
“There’s always a balance between being nice and being tough,” he said. “Most people are born one way or the other. They have to learn the other because the reality is you need a balance.”
Vigil is hoping to help those interested find that balance. His Academy of Taekwondo, located at 235 E. Main St., Ste. 103, will play host to an anti-bullying and anti-abduction seminar that will teach kids ages 5 to 12 how to assert and protect themselves in potentially harmful bullying and abduction scenarios.
The seminar will feature Bill Kipp, a former Marine and creator of the Fear Adrenal Stress Training Defense technique.
His program will teach children how to avoid common playground altercations, how to handle name calling and teasing, protecting personal “space” and possessions, verbal skills to back off a bully, and physical escapes for grabs or pushes.
The program will also teach kids ways to avoid getting lost, how to stay safe at home and basic skills to detect and avoid abduction.
Part of the problem with the prevalence of bullying in schools is that fact that children aren’t being taught proper conflict resolution skills, Vigil said.
“A lot of parents inadvertently tell their kids to never be tough,” Vigil said. “It really sounds like good logic that you should never want to hit anybody, but the reality is things happen in this world, people are violent and sometimes you do need to defend yourself.”
This doesn’t mean going around picking fights, he added, but learning how to control the adrenaline rush associated with conflict.
“Violence is always a last resort in any sort of self-defense situation,” he said. “Teaching people to resolve their conflicts by talking it out is a skill that serves them forever. It’s important to note, too, that sometimes physical violence is necessary.”
And conflict isn’t going to go away, Kipp said.
“Parents need to overcome the denial that bad things won’t happen to their children,” he said. “Conflict is a part of life, so let’s learn how to work with it effectively rather than be in denial that it doesn’t exist.”
Kipp and Vigil said it comes down to confidence; the way someone carries him- or herself after learning proper self-defense can be enough to avoid being victimized by a potential bully.
“When you say self defense it conjures up crazy ideas,” Kipp said. “The biggest thing we get from our children and adult graduates is how powerful the body carriage and verbal defense is in that predator-prey dynamic.”
“The root of bullying is that the bully selects a victim and some kids never get bullied at all because they’re just not the right person to select,” Vigil said, “and that can happen for a number of reasons, but the biggest thing is that confidence there.”