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Is a Self-Defense Course for My Child Worth It?

Q: Is a self-defense course for my child worth it? A: We may agree that two or more kids slugging it out is commonly called fighting. It is however, only one form of fighting. It's a ridiculous but real form of expressing oneself and sometimes a necessary form of protecting oneself.

Now, different forms of fighting include, using courage (acting in spite of fear), setting boundaries (so we don't get walked on or influenced in negative ways), self-talk (fighting ourselves), and, but not limited to, controlling personalities (we all conflict with those who attempt to "control" us).

Physical fist fights aren't a part of our everyday experiences but neither are house fires. One thing that is very clear, is that both being hurt by others and having our house burn down, are terrible experiences. So, as people who protect ourselves, we obtain education on how to handle the most common mental and physical threats, as well as purchase some home insurance. ;)

A good self-protection education shares the answers to handling the top attacks each age group and gender faces. Not only with physical dangers like being struck, picked up, strangled, grabbed, trapped, and worse, but also the mental solutions to the sneaky set ups and tricks used by certain individuals. Our kids seriously deserve this knowledge!

Q: Won't it make my energetic trouble maker more aggressive and even dangerous? A: All kids are different obviously so they need different educations. A good teacher can easily recognize that the small, frail, and shy student needs a different approach to verbal and physical skill development as opposed to the overweight, tall, slow kid and again to the angry, ADHD labeled, constantly ridiculed kid. Bullies aren't formed by learning how to fight but they can be recognized by their behaviors. It is important for kids to be able to recognize these actions so they can avoid possible confrontations and even better, if they catch themselves mocking these behaviors, they may stop. Good teachers enlighten and excite kids to learn important things. Great teachers share how to make and keep good friends!

Q: Aren't I condoning violence? A: By not knowing what to do, it may be looked at as condoning violence, for the assailant. Basically saying, “I'm going to be easy for you to hurt, go ahead, and then move on to hurt someone else”. It's fair to say that our kids could, or even will be, victimized at some or several points in their lives. Our duty as parents and teachers is to protect our youth until they can protect their own. We expose them to life experiences, personal beliefs, and give tons of advice along the way. Schools offer academics. Schools also offer confrontation that effects our kids in very strong ways. However, we can definitely give them a chance to defend themselves verbally and/or physically. Bullies can tell when control isn't likely, they’ll search for easier targets. More than 90% of bullying is verbal and mental. That is because mean kids can get away with anything if they don’t get caught. Physical attacks are harder to get away with than the belittling, teasing, and other controlling acts people abuse. It’s the same in the adult world but that’s because these kids grew into adults with no clue how to successfully handle the most common verbal and physical confrontations. Living without the confidence they deserve and probably passing that lack to their kids. Then, it’s off to the school, upset that our kid got hurt by another child or teacher, making more confrontation. Like that will stop the cycle that this child is in, for life.

Q: Schools have a no tolerance rule. Won't this education get him/her into trouble? A: Practical self-defense respects everyone's rights. Therefore, there is no assaulting by the potential victim. It's a beautiful system that builds confidence but also common sense. Tough men don't want to fight a silver back gorilla but today's martial arts programs give a false confidence in fighting skills which is basically sending in the man to go fight the gorilla. Besides that, the child would get into trouble because striking is what most martial arts emphasize. Not a good self-defense system though.

Last Q: How do I know a particular self-defense knowledge is realistic enough so I do not waste my time or money? A: This is the best question of all. With so many factors determining the likelihood of someone fighting off a criminal or a kid handling that bully who's twice his or her size, it seems like there's not much we can really do. That is, however, very far from true! Answering these thoughts can help thousands of kids, let alone parents, have less upsetting days where the child has been hurt. If we are unclear about the answers to the following questions, we may want the education... - What are some example statements our 16 to 25-year-old girls find confidence in when they need to set verbal boundaries? - Which fun self-defense move, to which scenario, do we like the most to surprise our 12-year-old boys with random sneak attacks at home? - What have we practiced a few times with our 5 year girls when we get lost at Wal-Mart?

- How do our 16-year-old boys stop the angry teen who just tackled them, got on top, and started punching down on them? - Do our 8-year-old boys know what "the bad uncle" typically says when he's trying to see if he can commit a crime later and what to do when he says such things? - My wife is best at escaping the ________ hold/trap. - Who in the family has the best wasp spray skills? ;) - When is the last time our 20-year-old girls brushed up on their car abduction strategies, seat belt and tied hands chokes, or discussed how to crash the car as safely as possible? - One more: Can our college aged daughters clearly tell us who, statistically, is most likely to assault her and how he's most likely to do it and more importantly, how to not be victimized so easily? There's yin and yang. Even though this is a serious subject, we can share and sharpen good skills together while having a good time and keeping it all light.

People tie martial arts studios with beliefs that they teach self-defense. Unfortunately, that's not true in most cases. If someone would like to have advanced fighting skills, they need what the pros need, MMA (skilled fighting vs. skilled fighters). If an individual isn't interested in that route, a true self-defense curriculum BASED ON THE TOP SCENERIOS faced for different ages and genders, is the best alternative. No belts, no uniforms, just mental and physical skills that give a non-fighter their best chance to come out ok. If time isn't an issue, then the martial art of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (also known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) is the safest, friendliest, and most fun art with ranks to learn for self-defense. We have strictly self-defense classes as well as Jiu-Jitsu classes and even a Taekwondo class for young kids that by no means gives self-defense skills but at least those kids may attend an age appropriate self-defense course alongside their art that they find fun.

In my opinion, every child should attend or repeat two complete self-defense curriculums. One during their elementary years and the second one in their middle school years. They face different problems so different curriculums are needed. High school age and up should be an as needed or wanted basis. If an individual is not sure how to handle something, they can get any help they need. Certain occupations, neighborhoods, and countless reasons may bring the want or need for this knowledge. Brushing our teeth is self-defense against gingivitis. Putting a coat on before going outside in a snow storm is self-defense against pneumonia. Hanging out with us is self-defense against mind and body harm. It’s cheap insurance that’s good for a lifetime! Plus, it’s a blast to practice the physical moves together! Tons of aha moments and new friendships are guaranteed! Thank you for reading. Respectfully, Derrick Maretti

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