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article imageOp-Ed: A summer camp to combat bullying

By Dustin Bruce     Aug 26, 2011 in Health
Denver - Martin Hendricks, 12, came back from the summer break to his Denver Suburb middle school with a bang. After spending 5 days at a Jiu-Jitsu camp, the school year couldn't have started off any other way.
Martin had dealt with a particular bully for quite some time, prompting his mother to enroll him in a "Bullyproof" camp. This camp allowed Martin to learn as many Jiu-Jitsu self defense techniques as a kid can absorb in 5 days, gave him blue-print for dealing with a bully, and gave him a solid boost in self-esteem, but more then anything, gave him the tools to protect that self-esteem from any and all that would challenge it.
Bullying is an epidemic in today's society. Most estimates say that 10 percent of kids report being bullied on a regular basis. The effects of bullying can be unseen, yet are not any less harmful then other forms of abuse. Bullying affects range from academic success to emotional disorders, even leading to suicide.
Rener Gracie, the founder of the program Martin attended, and also descendant of Jiu-Jitsu Grandmaster Helio Gracie, was quoted in an article saying "The program is engaging, it's fun and it will ensure that your son or daughter doesn't have to go through life at the mercy of tormenting bullies". That is exactly the power given to Martin, as a conflict arose shortly after his return to school.
Only 4 days into the school year, the abuse began anew. Martin, as the program teaches, asked the bully to stop, but to no avail. That night, Rener heard wind of the incident and called Martin to remind him of his training. Appealing to the rationale of Martin, Rener asked "Martin, would you rather fight one time and be protected for the rest of your life, or do you want to get bullied for the rest of your life". What Rener said gave Martin the power to do that which would change the way things were going.
The next day, Martin was not the only target of the bullying, as the bully tormented one of Martin's friends as well. The bully then asked Martin if he could practice some new punching techniques on him, and hit him. All that Martin had felt, bolstered by all he'd been taught, came rushing forth as he stood from the lunch bench, simultaneously pushing the bully with both hands, as taught by Rener.
Both boys landed one on top of the other, and Martin further revealed his training as he pinned the boy down with his knee on his chest, holding down the bully's arms with his own. The bully's friends told Martin to get off, but as recanted later to the principal Martin "chose not to".
The principal called both boys into the office and contacted the parents, as protocols advised. The principal was undoubtedly dumbfounded by the elation of Miss Hendricks.
Despite the school's "Zero Tolerance" policy, Martin was informed Monday morning that he was in no trouble, and even though fighting was not tolerated at the school, in this case it was appropriate. The real victory, however, came when the bully sought out Martin and publicly apologized in front of the other kids.
Problem solved. Martin later called Rener and expressed his gratitude. Rener told him he had done things exactly right. "He went through the entire cycle of standing up for himself verbally first, then physically, but not violently. He kept it humble, and allowed the bully to save face"
The lesson learned from young Martin is that sometimes you have to face your fears and do what you need to do.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Bullying, Self defense, Gracie family, GracieKids, Bullyproof
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