(also on bigWOWO)
I saw this article in the Christian Science Monitor about a woman whose child was bullied. She responded by taking her child to learn Gracie Jujitsu, where they have a program called Bullyproof. She took her son to the park after he learned GJJ, and what followed was some scary behavior on her son's part, which this woman not only condones but praises! While I appreciate everything that the Gracies have done for Mixed Martial Arts (my favorite spectator sport by far) and martial arts in general, I'm not in agreement with how they teach children to verbally deal with bullies. See here:
I heard the kids calling Quin names. I heard Quin give the programmed Bullyproof responses: "Don't call me that. I don't want to have to fight, but if you are challenging me to a fight I am not afraid of you. Can't we just stop this?" To which the bold one responded, "Well, I do want to fight!"As you can see, this woman's "baby" Quinny started the fight by throwing down a physical challenge. He wasn't bullyPROOF, he was the bully! If you take into account parental bias on the part of the author (and we know it's there...kids do not act the way she portrayed them, and Judge Judy would call B.S. on this woman's testimony), it's even scarier. I won't call this woman a liar, but if you've been around kids, they don't talk/act this way. "I do want to fight?" Please. I don't think so.
I jumped to my feet, but nothing happened. Quinny called to me, "He said he wants to fight, but he isn't, so yea!" That's when the other kid took a run at Quin and swung a haymaker punch right at my baby's face.
I myself bought the Gracie Bullyproof DVD program for my kids. I checked out their videos, and they are great in terms of the games, exercises, etc. But I don't subscribe to their method of teaching kids to verbally deal with bullies. They teach kids to say exactly what little Quin said: "If you're challenging me to a fight, I'll fight you." I won't say it's wrong, but it seems to me that we should be teaching kids to not fight rather than to try to become popular by fighting and acting like Cesar Gracie thugs.
Kids really should be trying harder to avoid fighting and to engage each other on a higher level. Kids should know how to defend themselves, but physical defense should be a last resort, not a way for kids to solve problems. Surely there must be a way to teach kids to deal with bullies, a method that teaches a greater respect for authority, one which even makes the bully a better person. There ought to be a more intelligent response. "Do you want to fight?" just doesn't seem a civilized or intelligent challenge to throw down in this day and age.
How would you teach your child to deal with bullies?
As for the Gracie Bullyproof product review, I recommend it. I'm happy I made the purchase. The parent teaching DVD is the best method I've seen for teaching kids physical activity, especially the part about teaching kids how to fix mistakes, and it is applicable to other forms of physical activity as well. Ryron and Rener have put together a very good program. It's a lot of fun when you do the activities with your son and daughter.
However, as mentioned, even though I think it's a great program, it doesn't achieve the main selling point--how to effectively deal with bullies. Nor will this program alone teach effective self-defense--I don't think kids can get good at jujitsu or judo without actually fighting people of their own size; a real class would be better in this respect. Little Quinny goes to a real class, which is why he was able to get in a position to choke out those boys he was bullying (I'm still horrified by the fact that this woman admits her son tried to do a move as dangerous as a choke on another child). Man, that Gracie-trained little bully is scary; I'm sure glad he doesn't live in Portland. He'd be pulling that "McFly, your shoe's untied!" trick before breaking kids' arms with kimuras or choking kids unconscious.
I think this program is good for the physical workout and fun. You'll have lots of fun doing it. Your kids will develop good body movement by doing the exercises. The Gracies know how to train people, and the technique is sound. The two instructors, Ryron and Rener, work very well with kids. I like this product, but I'd recommend that one carefully supervise and make corrections as appropriate--don't rely on it to teach your kids verbal defense. Teach your kids your own bully verbal defense that might make them better people who are both bullyproof and ready to engage the world.