It All Starts Physical
Posted by Security Guard
Recently, Savvy Tokyo published an informative article about bullying in Japanese schools. Statistics about bullying were provided and the author wrote about the different forms of bullying that can hurt a child. She did her research well. As a former victim of bullying, I like reading helpful articles like this. Because it means victims are not ignored or forgotten.
As a former victim, I would also like to offer some insights on one of the points raised in this article.
While it is true that fist cuffs or physical bullying make up a lower percentage of bullying incidents compared to teasing and other subtler means, we must not underestimate the power of physical prowess.
Throughout the 4 years in secondary school when I was getting bullied regularly, I was only ever beaten up a few times. Once I was punched and kicked. The other time I was burned with a lighter. And there was this one time when I was dragged out of my classroom by force for “investigation”. The teacher managed a weak “no…” before resuming his lesson. Like one of his student wasn’t just dragged out of the classroom by students from another class.
Just those few moments when force was used.
So you could say 99% of the time, I was teased and threatened verbally and that verbal bullying (not physical) made up the larger part of the problem.
BUT, that would be a superficial way to look at things. Because I can say, from personal experience, that the physical prowess of the bully (or bullies) played a large part in the success of the subtler bullying tactics.
Because if it weren’t painfully obvious that the bullies were so much stronger than me physically, I could have easily told them to piss off and stop bothering me. But the leaders could overwhelm me physically even if we were going one-on-one. And their followers tended to gang up on me so they had strength in numbers. Now, when you know someone or group of someones could easily pin you to the floor and take off your uniform and then shove you out into the hallway, you tend to find it hard to speak up against them when they verbally tease or threaten you.
And yeah. threats. Now, back when I was getting bullied by physically stronger opponents, their threats carried a lot of weight because I knew they could be carried out. When they said things like “we will kill you”, I felt sure that was something they could do. I mean, it wasn’t difficult to imagine them being strong enough to physically overpower me and then murder me.
On the other hand, if I were strong enough to beat them down, with swift punches and kicks, I wouldn’t be so worried when they make threats to me. I would be thinking, “How on earth are you going to do all that when I beat you down every time we fight?” Empty threats. Pah!
So what I am trying to say her is:
Even if the bullying isn’t physical in nature, it borrows power from physical strength. The threat of physical harm hangs like the Sword of Damocles over the victim during verbal teasing sessions, even when the victim is not manhandled physically.
Therefore, it makes sense to me to have anti-bullying programs that encourage victims of bullying to learn martial arts. Not styles that focus on kata or philosophy, but the real stuff that will work on the streets. Like Krav Maga, the system used by the Israel Defense Forces. Because victims of bullying usually NEED to have access to anti-bullying tools instantly. They don’t have the time to hang around enduring abuse for years before the weapon (i.e. martial skills) is forged. And militant systems like Krav Maga can give them a nearly instant fix to an ongoing problem.
Teck Y. Loh