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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Philosophy » Whatever the attitude, so the response – Bullying

Whatever the attitude, so the response – Bullying

Everyone has heard of the Golden Rule.  (Not the corporate golden rule of “He, who has the gold, makes the rules)  But the real Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”  Kenpo has a similar philosophy “Whatever the attitude, so the response”.  The interpretation is multidirectional, and generally means “If I treat you well, I expect to be treated well in return”

How does this apply to bullying?

Friendly sparring at stripe test

Friendly sparring at stripe test

My instructor, Mr. Damian Wilson of Disciple Martial Arts, wrote a great post about bullying.  His point was that we, as adults, are all responsible for creating a safe environment to give kids the self-confidence they need to withstand bullying.  I agree wholeheartedly.  Parents, school teachers, karate instructors need/must take an active role in a child’s life to act as a guide and protector whenever possible.

But sometimes the bully victim and the bully are going to come face to face.  Perhaps it’s the first act of confrontation or perhaps all other immediate options are exhausted.  At that point, “Whatever the attitude, so the response” can become the guiding principle a parent/instructor has put in place to act as a reference for how the would-be victim is to respond in the situation.

Psychological bullying

Psychological bullying is about verbal abuse, exclusion from groups, and rumormongering. It takes a strong understanding of who you are as a person to withstand that kind of abuse. But good Kenpo can help provide a solid foundation to help. The Kenpo path has many opportunities for positive personal recognition: achieving a stripe or belt promotion, beating an opponent in friendly sparring, tournament victories. A good school will provide lots of positive reinforcement in class to let students know when they’re doing well and not exclusively focus on deficiencies. This method of training and growth along with parental support should put a child on a path where they don’t need the acceptance of would-be false friends who practice psychological bullying.

In this case, “Whatever the attitude, so the response” can mean taking the high road. When confronted with the verbal abuse or the group cold shoulder, the would-be victim has the self-confidence to shrug off the barbs and know they have other friends in place.  The strong moral character enables the person/child to continue with a positive attitude, disregard the abuse, and continue to seek out happier responses either from the bully or from other people who would become friends.

Physical bullying

What if the face-to-face is on a course to physical assault and escape is not available?  Sometimes a confrontation is no longer unavoidable.  The Kenpo philosophy of “Whatever the attitude, so the response” still comes into play as now the interpretation is from the other direction.  The attitude being given is a fight, and the response is defense and just enough offense to end the situation.  Knowing how to defend yourself and knowing which retaliatory targets are acceptable given the severity of the situation is what a good Kenpo school is supposed to teach.  Most school bullying would involve a push, a grab, or a punch.  In that case, blocking and countering back with only enough force to make the attacker strongly consider the choice they’ve made is acceptable.  Bullying would not likely warrant knee attacks, bone breaks, or strikes to soft targets.  Hence the level of the attitude dictates the level of the response.

In no way am I advocating fighting.  The first responses should be flight, inform school teachers, parents, and perhaps even the parents of the bully.  Only when no other choices are available should fighting back be considered.

I have two girls and know that at some point, no matter how hard I try to protect them, they will experience some form of bullying.  Their support network is in place with a supportive family and good teachers.  And yet, when the bullying comes, it could likely be just them relying on what they’ve learned and believe in that will matter.  Whatever the attitude given to them, I trust in the response they will give back.

Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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