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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kids Self Defense Class

I taught a self defense class for children during a summer safety camp. Fun times, most were great kids eager to learn and please. They were fairly smart and had some good questions and comments. The first part of the class was theory. I know, not really thrilling but so very necessary. We discussed how to keep ourselves safe so we don’t need to use self defense skills. We talked about how adults, mostly the ones with bad intentions, think and act.

The most popular question I had, and we are talking 12-15 kids out of 40 asking me this with very eager faces, was…. “So what would you do if you were surrounded by 4-6 guys that want to hurt/kill you?” I brushed off the first few but after a while I had to ask them

“How old are you?”

“9-11 years old….. (their age range)”

“And exactly where do you hang out that you are worried about this kind of attack?”

This was a good time to review “How to stay away from dangerous places, The Buddy system, Let your parents/an adult know where you are at all time”… because apparently they weren’t listening very close to that part of the lesson.

The problem is that a lot of those kids had martial arts training, TKD or Karate mostly. They already knew everything, why pay attention. I am not knocking either one of those arts. Martial arts training for kids are a great idea. But one part that is a bad idea is when they train for unrealistic things. We need to train our kids for things that will most likely happen to them. According to some of those kids, they could take down a guy that would shove a gun in their face, they could fight off a herd of ninjas, but not very many knew why it’s a bad idea to go help a person they don’t know to go look for his/hers “lost dog”. Yes make believe is fun and all kids (and a lot of adults) do it. But training to save your life should be based in reality.

“Train for what happens the most and you will be prepared for most of what happens”- Marc MacYoung NoNonsense Self Defense

Another bad part of their training is that they are sent home with a sense of false confidence. They think they can carry a real fight with a 250 lbs highly trained operator and win. What they learn in their class is mostly sport applications that is performed with people in their own weight class or even larger opponents that is taking it very easy on them. They never had to “test” their skills. When your skills are never tested, they either never achieve their intended results or they rust. You start doing things half ass since it really doesn’t matter. You know you are getting out of it anyway. They have illusions that things will work just like they do in the movies. You kick the gun out of the bad guy’s hand with a spinning round house kick, you take him down with one punch to the chest and you ride away in the sunset with the pretty girl. That is fiction. This is not even close to reality.

We are doing our kids a HUGE disservice when we train them in such a way that they go home thinking they are Captain America.

Another point is we all talk to our kids about “stranger danger”… at least I hope we all do. But how many trains to actually role play those scenes that are so much more likely to happen to them then being surrounded by a roving band of mercenaries.

Taking care of your kids is not just about providing for them. It’s also about teaching them to be able to take care of themselves.

Be smart, stay safe and teach your kids to do the same!


  1. When I was at school, 4-6 kids surrounding another and wanting to hurt them was something I saw daily. Perhaps that's what they were thinking of.

  2. I can see this with bullies... And I had a few kids asking that question. That is very legitimate and a scary thing for kids to deal with.
    But sadly no those kids were asking about grown men with guns and knives.