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Posts Tagged ‘Safety’

Kung Fu Holidays

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

During the Thanksgiving and Christmas season it’s easy to become preoccupied with all of the holiday frills that we often let our guards down, especially when it comes to our children.

I have many parents ask for some simple ways to make sure their child is safe during the countless shopping trips. So here are a few tips on safety for your loved ones this season.

Malls are unavoidable for us shoppers and the bad-guys know this. My suggestion is for children under 12 to remain with parents or adult during shopping trips. This is a drag for kids around the 10-11 age range but it’s much safer. For teens, shopping with friends is the rule, preferably with groups of four to six.

You must view the child-abductor as a cowardly predator. He is looking for that lone child to attack. Stay with the groups and remain in public areas of the mall. Avoid going to restrooms alone or walking out to their cars alone. Of course, cell phones are the ideal way for you to stay in touch with your child.

And always run! Hopefully your child never has to deal with being assaulted but tell them to run. Get out of there and go to a security guard. Inform them to report any suspicious incidents to the proper authorities.

The holidays are fun and exciting and for the most part are very safe, but it’s always better to be prepared and to have a plan. Have a happy Thanksgiving and a merry Christmas.

Think Like a Super Hero

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Parents often ask if the martial arts will help or hurt their already aggressive-behaving child.

I understand the parents’ concern, particularly in the way Hollywood portrays the martial arts. Often a violent cartoon or “kid’s” program showing bloody martial arts fight scenes is all a mom sees. So when little Taylor asks if he can do karate, Mom has visions of her beloved son flipping through the air with razor-sharp swords killing ninjas.

But in my fifteen years of teaching experience, I’ve yet to have a student whose aggressive behavior escalated after beginning martial arts training. Actually, I’ve noticed—along with the parents—the child’s aggressive behavior diminish and I’ve yet to hear any of my law enforcement students and friends tell me of a crime-spree involving a kid kung fu master.

On the flip side, I’ve seen very introverted children become more confident and outgoing after training in the martial arts.

True martial arts is all about self-discipline and respect for self and others. The physical side of it gives aggressive children a positive physical outlet.

In researching juvenile crime statistics involving the martial arts, all I discovered were positive articles of martial arts reducing aggressive behavior in children and teens.

One was a Texas A & M University study that showed a significant decrease in aggressive behavior of delinquent youths after they trained in the Korean martial art, Tae kwon do, for just six short months. The title of the study was Martial Arts Training: A novel “cure” for juvenile delinquency. The title alone is pretty powerful.

Yes, the martial arts are comprised of punches, kicks, and throws – violent actions, but one of my favorite teaching techniques is telling the students to think like a super hero. I ask them; just because Batman has the skills to beat people up, does he do it to every one? “Only to the bad-guys,” they shout back to me, “like the Joker!” I explain to them that knowing martial arts is exactly like having a super power and they should treat it as such, just like Batman, and only use it in times of danger and self-defense. During class we reinforce this principle with role-play of how and when the student’s kung fu powers should be used.

This example totally clicks with a child’s imagination and empowers them as well. They think, “Wow, I’m kinda like Spiderman or Batgirl. That’s cool!” Many children in my classes even quote Uncle Ben from the movie Spiderman: “With much power comes much responsibility.” That is what martial arts is all about.

For Real

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Last Tuesday I learned real kung fu.

A new student who recently moved to the U.S. approached me after the morning class and asked me to watch him practice with the walking stick (short staff). He swung the staff with such intensity and focus that I remember thinking, Wow, he’s doing this as if his life depends on it.

Well, I found out that it did.

With little income, my student lives in a rough apartment complex inside an even rougher neighborhood. In very broken English, he told me that in just the last three days, he’d had to fight his way into his home, and then had to throw people out of his home. He said fighting is never one-on-one. Always three or four. And they are big, with big hands and big arms. They want my money, my food. They no work for nothing, he said, they only want to take. He also told me he had to use a broom as his weapon and that’s why he needed more practice with the short staff.

I stood there, not only dumbfounded, but totally humbled and even ashamed.

For the last fourteen years, I’ve been teaching martial arts professionally. And though the lethalness of the arts is always in the back of my mind whenever I teach a technique, I admit I’ve taken KF for granted. I mean, thank God we live in a society where kung fu is not a necessary skill to have in order to live from one day to the next. But in that, how many punches and kicks—entire forms filled with hundreds of techniques— have I taught just going through the motions on autopilot with little thought of how the student may really need this in order to survive the evening at home.

Weeks prior, I’d shown him a few techniques with the staff. Good stuff, effective, but I showed him the movements more as an exercise, with little focus on the combat uses. The humbling part is that he told me those moves saved his life. He shook my hand and thanked me for it. I felt an inch tall. See, in my mind, from the get-go, I should’ve taught him those techniques with the seriousness of what they’re really used for, not just exercises.

You guys know the definition of martial arts but it lets reexamine it.

The word martial literally means warfare or combat. Placing the word arts behind it implies pooling all aspects of combat, studying them and then seamlessly imbedding the techniques into your being so that it (combative moves) flows out naturally. People who train in the martial arts are students of both science and art. Think of all the physics and biology you learn just from practicing kung fu. And of course it’s the repetitive practice that forms the art.

Spending thirty years with a Sifu who relied on his KF to survive the dangerous streets of DC and New York, and then the perilous jungles of Viet Nam, I can’t help but intimately understand the combat side of martial arts. I just allowed my focus to become lazy. Not again.

Key Words

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Ninety-five percent of the time, I keep a positive attitude and try to focus on the good things in life. Recently however, I learned of a situation that reminded me of just how wicked this world is.

The incident was between two second-graders, a boy and a girl. (Keep in mind as I tell you this, these kids are only SEVEN years old). At the lunch table, the boy asked the little girl to marry him . . . so that he could have sex with her. She said no!

Later that afternoon, he asked the same question; same answer from her, he says think about or you’ll be sorry. Next day, same happens, this time in the classroom. She says no, and the boy says, “I’m gonna tie a rock to your head and rip out your hair for saying no.” She tells the teacher Boy is bothering her, and teacher tells her to ignore him.

Following day, again in the lunchroom, the cycle continues but this time it gets physical. Boy grabs girl from behind and squeezes her. She screams STOP, tells the teacher Boy is bothering her, teacher says ignore him. Back in the classroom, Boy threatens Girl again, this time in a much more violent way with extremely graphic details. So much so, that I was too uncomfortable writing it here. Girl quickly backs away from him and threatens to tell her daddy. Boy says that he’ll just chop off the daddy’s head.

Girl did tell her parents, and after parent/teacher/principal conference, the incident was investigated. Turns out, a neighbor of the family had abused the little boy.

Evil begets evil.

More girls came forward with similar stories about Boy. Boy was removed from school for a week and assigned to a different classroom, with the requirement of seeing a counselor.

You’re probably saying, “What’s the teacher’s problem. Why didn’t she do something when Girl told?” In her defense, second-graders tattle on each other about a thousand times per day, and the girl only said bothering me.

Hearing about all this, I learned that there are certain KEY words a child must use to let the teacher know the situation is serious. Inform your children to use words, nasty, sex, serious, threatening, and or say, “so-n-so is talking about hurting me with a weapon”, “so-n-so touched me in a private spot” or “he’s saying stuff about naked people.”

I know, it’s not words we as parents necessarily want to discuss with our small children, but as the above story proves, society forces our hand. It’s our job to protect them however we can. Girl did involve her parents and that was absolutely the right action.

Please encourage your children to tell you things. It could save their little life.

The Bug Within

Monday, June 15th, 2009

It was an average enough day. Nothing out of the ordinary, when a strange man came up to me at work. I was helpful and got him what he needed, but I had second thoughts about his mental competence. He went on his way, and I went mine, thinking nothing more of him and moving on to the next customer.

About fifteen minutes had passed and I heard a page on the intercom system. It said, “Mr. Decker to the front lobby, REDLINE.” This means to drop what you are doing immediately and get to the front. This is when my spidey senses told me something was wrong. I could hear the anticipation and nervousness in the person’s voice that called me, and I was off with the speed of a ninja.

Once I got to the front lobby, I saw a manager, a helpful customer, and the same man that I had encountered earlier, sitting down on the ground. I then ask the manager, “How may I be of assistance?”, as I pushed out my chest and dropped the tone of my voice. He told me that the man sitting on the ground made it to the front, left his groceries and proceeded to stand on the counter. He then began to undress. They stopped him from undressing and got him to the lobby and called for backup. Since I was backup, I introduced myself to the gentleman and ask his name.

He was very nervous and couldn’t sit still. He then began to take his shoes off. I called him by name, asked him to sit still until the police came, and asked him to put his shoes back on. He said “WHY. I would never hurt anyone.” He then stood up and came toward me with his hands out.

Without thinking, my body reacted. I blocked his hand, moved to the side, twisted his hand behind his back, and helped his face to the floor. He started kicking violently and yelling. I told him to be still and the police would be here soon. The more he moved and twisted, the further I pushed his fingertips up his back.

The police arrived soon after, and my heart was still beating 100 miles an hour. Once the man was off with the police the manager turned to me and said, “How did you do that?” I gave him the best answer that I had; “I don’t know.” It was really all a blur to me, I really didn’t know what I had done. It was pure animal instinct. It actually kind of scared me. The manager said, “Show me how to do that. That was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” It wasn’t just animal instinct; it was the “BUG” inside me busting out. I told him I couldn’t show him how to do it. I could show him the moves, but he would have to come and train to find the “BUG” inside him.