Verbal bullying is the most common type of bullying. As many as 77% of students may experience verbal bullying, which may come in the form of taunting, teasing, or spreading rumors. Despite being so common, only around 14% of students claim to have had a bad reaction to verbal bullying, which may include depression, anxiety, and even suicidal ideation. In addition to taking a toll on one’s mental health, bullying can also damage one’s self-esteem and make one not want to go to school for fear of being bullied.
Self-Confidence and Bullying
For Jason Wilson, teaching kids self-defense is a way to not only repair their self-esteem, but to build up their confidence so they don’t become a target in the future. Wilson, the founder of the faith-based non-profit organization called The Yunion and head instructor of the Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy (CATTA) in Detroit, Michigan. Jason has trained in martial arts for more than 20 years and has been mentoring boys and young men in the practice since 2007. He is also an accomplished author, most recently of Battle Cry: Waging and Winning the War Within.
As the below video shows, Wilson helps kids build up their self-esteem to take away the bully’s power over them. As he says to one student, “You only give it power when you think about yourself that way. If I called you something that you already believe about yourself, it’s going to affect you. But if I call you something that you don’t believe about yourself, it won’t affect you or it shouldn’t affect you.”
For Wilson, self-assurance and confidence allows students to brush off bullying. It allows them to remain collected and calm, which deters bullying and prevents physical altercations. Rather than needlessly escalating a situation, Wilson teaches kids to be comfortable with themselves and to not be drawn into the bully’s game.
Self-Confidence and Bullyproof
While Wilson’s approach may seem distinct from the philosophy of jiu-jitsu because of its strong Biblical influence, the core of his teaching aligns with the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Bullyproof program. The Bullyproof program teaches kids two critical skillsets.
As one would expect, the first skillset is jiu-jitsu. While jiu-jitsu is a martial art, it is based on efficiency of movement and survival. It is not just about learning how to throw a punch or kick someone really hard. Instead, jiu-jitsu focuses primarily on grappling techniques. Grappling primarily takes place on the ground and fighters use their skills to place their opponents in submission holds rather than using brute force to knock them out.
The second and far more important skillset for kids involves anti-bullying techniques that are non-violent. Bullyproof teaches kids prevention and techniques to deter bullies so that they never become a target. Ultimately, bullies want to be able to pick on someone who will be affected by what they say and won’t be able to retaliate without getting themselves in trouble. By boosting kids’ self-esteem and instilling in them a sense of self-confidence, Bullyproof gives them the assurance they need to quickly shut down bullying behavior before it takes root. As Wilson says, you just fan it off.
Additionally, the Bullyproof program scenarios to prepare them for real-world scenarios. They learn how to recognize a friend from a potential bully; how to respond to peer pressure situations; and how to prevent escalation. The core of these skills is the ability to be assertive and to act with confidence. Somewhat paradoxically, the Bullyproof program is about learning martial arts to build up confidence rather than to actually use the moves in an altercation. Kids are taught that their using the jiu-jitsu techniques are only a last resort.
Is Jiu-Jitsu Safe?
For parents who are considering sending their children to jiu-jitsu class, they will certainly have a lot of questions. First and foremost, they want their kids are going to be safe.
Because the majority of the action in jiu-jitsu occurs on the ground and does not involve strikes (punching, kicking, kneeing, or elbowing), there are limited possibilities for injuries. Kids are put into different groups that are divided by skill levels, weight differences, and age ranges. Consequently, the risk of injury is not greater than other sports, and the most serious injury that is likely to occur is minor bruising.