As part of the 7- week kindness challenge, I’ve asked people to share their personal experiences with bullying. Since I put it out there, I will share one. Most adults can remember being teased about things (hair, clothes, doing something stupid). But, if it’s stayed in your mind, if it still bothers you, if you ever think about what it would be like to go back in time, replace your younger self and go “Jason Statham” on the guy (ok… maybe that last one is just me), then it’s a pretty good chance that those incidents were not “just” teasing… you were bullied.
I can remember many days during my middle school years taking the bus home with a couple of guys who were a bit older, bigger and generally more intimidating than me. And I can also remember these guys chasing after me one the bus left, trying to push me or throw me down to the ground. In the winter, I was pelted with snow and ice-balls. Those days sucked… but there was one incident that is most vivid in my mind. One afternoon, while going through another round of taunts walking home, one of the kids (the bigger one. .. the “instigator”), threw his shoe at me, hitting me in the back of the head. That was it… I was done. But instead of slugging him and and the other guy (which probably would have resulted in me getting my ass kicked), I picked up his shoe, looked him dead in the eyes… and spit in it.
They came after me like a couple of grizzlies going after Elmer Fudd! Mind you, I was not the most fit 11 year old, and I certainly never won any racing ribbons on field day, but I had a head start and he was missing one shoe. But I also knew that, if they caught me, I was going to get pounded… and i was downright scared. (In fact, even as I write this, I’m hard pressed to think of a time where I was as scared as I was at that moment…). So, I did the only thing I could think of: I ran into my neighbor’s backyard, and banged on his door to let me in (good thing he wasn’t sleeping or in the basement!). Once in, the guys took off, but I stayed there for awhile, in case they were waiting. Luckily, it was a weekend, so they either forgot, or cooled down enough to go back to our regularly scheduled taunting.
As I think back, I know I was lucky… there were kids that dealt with worse. And there are children today who deal with it, too. 20 years ago, it was just “something kids go through”. Not so much, anymore… We, as adults, as martial artists, have a responsibility to help our children, our students, our friends… Be there for them. Listen to them. Whether you were a victim or a perpetrator of bullying, share your story (no judgement here! ). Learn more about bullying by going here: