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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

Effectively Coping with Bullies

Jul 02, 2013 05:48PM ● By Megan Barys

The Martial Arts Combat Academy of Niceville takes students starting from age 4 and up. They focus heavily on situational awareness and control in the classroom, on the street and in the office. The incidence of bullying is getting much needed attention in the media and the school makes a special effort to include defensive strategies in its curriculum. For attackers that wield weapons, they teach effective mastery and control of those situations.

Darius Hyman is a child instructor and holds a black belt in the Calm Water system. He served in and was a black belt instructor in the Marines. John Lee is the head of the school and the creator of the Calm Water system. He has served in the police force for many years and studied martial arts for most of his life, with specific training in kajukembo, chin na, gung fu and krav maga. Kim Lee runs the school and is the Calm Water Tai Chi instructor, as well as one of the child instructors. She is also the school nurse and has firsthand knowledge of bully defense.

In a perfect world, everyone would follow the golden rule, but there are people that for one reason or another are not kind to their fellow man. For those of us that have been bullied or have loved ones that have been treated unkindly, the realization that we are not alone provides encouragement to act toward minimizing the occurrence and frequency of hurtful behaviors.

Before reacting to a bully, it is wise to understand why people behave the way they do. Often, bullies have been the recipients of bullying themselves, either from acquaintances or worse, their own families. Similarly, they have not been effectively taught appropriate social behavior. Therefore, they are hurtful to others through their words and actions.

We must use and teach strategies to effectively respond so as to minimize and hopefully stop the destructive behavior.

The first step in our own self-defense is to use the power of observation. Upon entering a social encounter, look around. Pay attention to how others behave. If possible, we try not to bring attention to ourself right away while we take time to determine who is nice and who is not so nice. Watch facial expressions, body language and how people behave with one another. Be like a chameleon and blend in until to determine whether or not there is a bully present. If there is a sense that someone is rougher than the others or is a troublemaker, try to avoid them or at least interact with them as little as possible.

If avoidance and being nice still doesn’t keep a bully away, the next step is to ask them to stop. What is mild roughhousing to one person might constitute a beating to another. One person’s sense of humor can be another’s embarrassment. Not every household lives by the same rules. If at the receiving end of unacceptable behavior, say to them, “Stop hurting me! You’re being a bully!” as loud as possible, to draw the attention of others to the situation. It may very well be the first time that they have been made aware that their behavior is not all right, and might stop it from happening again.

If directly telling the person their behavior is unacceptable does not stop it, then tell a responsible person that might have better luck at stopping the bully. Children should tell as many adults as they know to bring about a broader awareness of the situation, so that a hurtful child can be watched and counseled against destructive behavior. If telling the bully’s parents, teacher, boss or other authority figure does not resolve the issue, take it to the next level, the principal, the school board and even to law enforcement, if necessary. Keep going up the chain of command.

As a last resort, if the bullying is physical, everyone in this country is entitled to defend themself with force. Using a weapon is not always such a good idea, because too often that backfires and the weapon is used against the person trying to defend themself. Never assume knowledge of what the other person knows. Enrolling children in a self-defense course that emphasizes effective skills for use in today’s society may benefit them in ways that are impossible to predict.

The Academy is expanding their summer program for June, July and August, and will visit area public schools once or twice a week to teach classes that include their signature child protection courses, stranger danger awareness and anti-bully defense. “It’s very important to teach these concepts early in life, when these children are most vulnerable “ says Lee.

Megan Barys is an instructor of children ages 4-14 at the Martial Arts Combat Academy of Niceville, located at 1605 N. Partin Dr. She holds a black belt in the Calm Water style. For more information, call 850-797-9429 or visit

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