Teasing, hair pulling, even kicking and hitting: they're the physical trademarks of school bullies. When a teacher isn't around to put a stop to it, a West Des Moines gym is stepping in.
Victims of school bullies should always first seek out the help of a teacher or school administrator, but when that isn't an option, or a bully victim feels in danger, teachers at prairie life fitness say students must be able to defend themselves.
As a former childhood victim of bullies himself, Michael Taylor learned at an earlier age to defend himself. “When I started Tae Kwando I was nine, and the reason why I started was because I was getting picked on and I needed to learn how to defend myself,” said Taylor.
Now, he is a martial arts and self-defense instructor, teaching kids how to defend themselves.
“Ii just want to provide something for children that they feel confident and safe that they can go to school or anywhere, a super market or out with their friends at a park, that they feel confident that they can run they can get help for strangers and being picked on and stuff like that,” said Taylor.
Whether he is teaching them to deal with a bully or a stranger, Taylor’s first lesson is always be verbal. He instructs them to try to make peace with the person they’re having trouble with, and talk to a teacher or adult. But he says sometimes, the phrases he teaches, like "stop" and "I don't know you” are not enough.
“I’m not teaching the students to go out and harm somebody that`s the big thing. Its something they can have, a few basic things they can use in case they ever need to,” said Taylor.
Taylor teaches them things like blocking a bully from grabbing their hair, and sliding out of an unwanted grasp of a stranger. Taylor says these moves instill a needed*confidence in the student, no matter what their age, and he says it’s a confidence booster for parents.
“Having a daughter I think it’s good for their self-confidence and in case of a situation where they get uncomfortable, it already pre-determines what they should do,” said Mike Krysa, a parent.
Taylor repeatedly instructs his students the techniques they learn are a last resort and should only be used for self-defense. The next self-defense class for kids ages 7 to 15 begins at prairie life fitness on December 11th, and again on the 13th.
For more information call 515-223-5999.