When it comes to dealing with bullies, it can be tricky, especially if you know martial arts. Let me just say that the anti-bullying techniques and concepts we teach come mainly from the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Torrance, CA. I think their philosophy and methodology is on point, and thus have adopted a good chunk of it.
That being said, I'm not sure I agree with their latest video on dealing with bullies. It is one of their 10-year-old students talking about how he dealt with bullies at school. The Gracies thought they should showcase this incident as proof that their program works.
Here's the video, and then my analysis to follow:
Overall, I'm sure the boy won't get bullied again, and to that end, he is successful.
However, I feel the need to share the 3 things I find somewhat problematic with how he handled the situation:
1. The Gracie Bullyproof method is, "Talk, Tell, Tackle." For those that don't know, "Talk" is letting the bully(ies) know that you don't appreciate what they did/said, and to stop, and never do/say that again. "Tell" is if the bully continues, you must tell grown ups - teachers, parents, counselor, principal, so they can intervene with the situation. "Tackle" comes in two parts - verbal and physical. After you've done the Talk and Tell, you then corner them into a decision, "Are you challenging me to a fight? If yes, I'm not afraid of you. If no, then leave me alone". So if they say yes, then, you proceed with the physical altercation.
So, in this case, he did not "Tell". He did not get grown-ups involved. The Gracie Academy kind of dismissively treats that as, "Whoops, he skipped a step." But in my experience, when kids skip that step, they end up getting into trouble. Why? Because they instantly went from verbal warning, to taking matters into their own hands. And in this case, it was over a skateboard. And it was at school, where there were grown-ups. I think omission of this step is a big deal. He was lucky that he didn't get into trouble, because if he had done "Tell", and then had to deal with the bullies physically, he would have been able to build an alibi to say that he covered all his basis before he got physical with them. I think for the Gracies is to dismiss the importance of the "Tell" phase is a little short-sighted.
2. The Gracie have an important philosophy when it comes to dealing with multiple bullies or attacker - don't stay there, get out! Run away any way you can! That is the only reliable strategy on how to deal with multiple attackers. They even play dodgeball in their Bullyproof classes to emphasize this principle. This boy was lucky that the three boys didn't all gang up on him and attack him at once, because if they did, he'd have been beaten up. This concept on getting away from multiple opponents is such a major principle with the Gracies, that they made a whole video on the topic:
So to see a direct violation of this principle also made me raise an eyebrow on why they chose to feature this story.
3. Rener Gracie said that the student handled this peacefully, without becoming a bully. Although I don't think that the student is a bully per se, he did throw the first attack. The student became physical by doing a "Power Push". Granted, that's not a strike, but it is provocation. And this method is provoking a physical attack. So, in essence the student started a physical fight with 3 other kids. While I do understand the importance of drawing a line in the sand, I'm not sure if I am completely on board with physical provocations. Aren't bullies the one who start out with pushing people around?
At the end of the day, I'm glad the student is safe, and probably won't get bullied again, and I guess since he followed some of the steps outlined in the program, they deemed it worthy for exposure. But someone like me, who teaches the concepts of this program, I was a little uneasy about this being a perfect example of their system applied in a real life setting. But, no situation is perfect, I get it. This one, though, seems to have some major violations.