By: Conrad Troha Jr., FJJA
Jukido Academy of Martial Arts, Palm Coast, FL
Bushido, the way of the warrior, the virtues and morals that all Kokondo-ka follow, not only in the Dojo but after they bow out and are back into there daily life. There are seven of these virtues that are named specifically: Benevolence, Courage, Honor, Justice, Loyalty, Politeness, and Veracity. However, one cannot just wake up following the codes, he has to adapt to them. That person has to mature, or develop there mind to do the right thing no matter how much they like it our hate it. Someone who can follow Bushido under any circumstance I would say is more mature than most of us can say we have ever been. In contrast, some think of maturity as being “grown up”, but you can have an adult who is immature. Therefore maturity is not only physical; in fact it is COMPLETELY mental.
This is a mind set that a martial artist has to have when learning techniques that have serious potential to hurt people. If there were no moral code behind the system then what kind of people would we be creating? The people that train in the Kokondo system are special people. Not only physically, mentally, and spiritually, but in morality as well. Only one who follows Bushido could be mature enough to not use their techniques when a friend asks to see them, or to keep calm when protecting your self or another, not to go too far. And so one will try to mature or fully develop their mind, encompassing it with the way of the warrior, because in all reality, you cannot completely follow Bushido without a mature mindset.
On that note, as I have recently discovered there is no age limit to being mature. I am 16 years old; I attend school at Flagler Palm Coast Highest School and am a Yonkyu (green belt) at the FJJA. I found myself day in and day out being very in tune, respectful and following Bushido when it was convenient for me. As I opened my eyes to this matter I could see some of our younger students at the FJJA surpassing me in their maturity level. And to be completely honest I am glad that I could see that. But had I been too immature to see and learn from this, then I would not be progressing as a person the way I am now. Through trying to follow Bushido I have inevitably started on a path that has given me the tools needed to become a truly good person, and with those tools I am slowly building the wall between a mature, Bushido oriented individual and the less better half of me that will only get me into trouble.
And in truth you can look at things in your every day life that you have done, which aren’t related to the dojo, and say to yourself…”I wish I could go back and fix that”. It happens to all of us, like today when my mother asked me to wash her car and clean it out. Is that such a hard thing to do? Not really, but the first thing out of my mouth was a complaint, and If I could go back and be more mature about the situation I would have said “ok mom no problem”. But I can’t, however what I can do is look at the situation and remember it so that the next time my mother asks for something I can handle it like an individual who appreciates the responsibilities in his life.
Thomas Edison invented the light bulb; it took him nearly 2,000 attempts until he finally got it right. And when someone would say to him that he failed 2,000 times before he got it right he would say “I didn’t fail 2,000 times, I figured out 2,000 ways how not to make a light bulb”. How is this relevant you say? The point being every time you mess up, say something you wish you hadn’t, or feel like you have lost, just remember; that one cannot succeed until he fails. It is a learning process and through these experiences in your life you will develop the mindset of a mature individual…as long as you’re aware of the knowledge you gain from past experience, then there will come a time when you figure out how to make your “light bulb” and at that time you will be able too say: “I am Benevolent, I am Courageous, I am honorable, I am Just, I am Loyal, I am polite, I have Veracity.”
“I follow Bushido!”
A True Beginner’s Mindset: The Path to Advancement
It’s funny how when students first begin training in Kokondo they can’t wait to be an advanced student, which each student at some point in time learns is a relative matter. Nonetheless it seems like forever until the moment when one can finally feel relieved at the fact that he or she has learned quite a lot about Kokondo and can finally start feeling comfortable, at least I did. I seemed forever a rookie and always desiring to know more.
Wanting to know more was the good thing but thinking that there would ever be a point when I would know it all or know most of it, or even know enough to feel comfortable was the issue. As I began to grow in my training the desire to become an advanced practitioner was replaced with the desire to learn more and more about each and every aspect that Kokondo had to offer. I no longer viewed advancement as a means of eventually ending the learning process but more as a gateway to deeper and deeper understanding, which quickly lead to the realization of the error in my original thought process. This inevitably lead to an analysis of what it truly means to learn and to know and what is the best way to develop my advancement and knowledge in Kokondo, without hindering my success through the wrong understanding of these topics.
What I eventually concluded was that to be successful in learning one must obtain and flourish in the beginner’s mind. I viewed and picked out some of the most positive aspects of being a beginner by observing others and myself, as I still consider myself a beginner. What I came up with was a few desirable traits that I believe a true beginner has and what a true Kokondo Ka strives to consistently grasp. These attributes are as follows; having a thirst and hunger for information, never being satisfied, striving to exceed one’s comfort zone, never thinking you know it all, and always assuming there’s more to learn.
Thirsting for more is definitely a trait that all Kokondo Ka should have. By thirsting I mean having that feeling that without more information or training that one is figuratively thirsty and that thirst cannot be quenched but through new understanding or progression, which can be done through simply the repetition of a technique to discovering a nuance that was previously unknown, and obviously through many other methods. The point is that students with the beginner’s mind feel the need to always be actively participating in their training. Going through the motions simply won’t cut it for a person of this sort. A person with the beginner’s mind is always trying to overflow an ever-growing cup with more knowledge. It’s never enough or too much. If a beginner is not constantly feeding the brain with more knowledge, whether through physical repetition or mental understanding, then the student feels that this begins to starve his or her progress and as a result hungers for more. Without this feeling of thirst and hunger there is no compulsory driving force to achieve higher levels of understanding and development. However this quest and desire for more does not mean learning more and more techniques. This is what can separate a raw beginner, those who’ve been in the system for a limited amount of time and do not yet have the right mindset, from a student who truly has the beginner’s mindset, which is called shoshin (beginners mind). Many raw beginners often desire more and more techniques and sometimes do so above all else. They equate quantity of technique with knowledge and advancement. For those practicing beginners mind or shoshin it is not about quantity but rather quality, really getting to know more about what they already have learned so far. Getting another technique is the furthest from their minds. They leave that up to their Sensei to worry about. They trust the Sensei to know when to give them new techniques and they don’t stress over what comes next on a list of rank requirements. They would much rather spend their efforts on learning to become great at what they have already been given rather than trying to spread their efforts thin on a whole bunch of techniques that they aren’t even ready for. So instead of trying to obtain that next technique or next level they try to feed their brains and bodies with more understanding of what they have already been taught. In effect, the belts and attainment of new techniques are the summation of this described equation of shoshin. It is the result of advancement, not the means.
Being satisfied with one’s progress is never what a practitioner of shoshin feels. It’s not that one cannot have an appreciation (or even happiness and pride) for the progress that is made but to be satisfied with it is another story. Satisfaction implies contentment and if one is content there is not much of a motivating impulse to improve and strive for higher levels. This means advancement will be stagnant. Therefore the way to advance is never to be satisfied. Instead to always find something to work on. One should never become content with the knowledge or skill gained, but rather to acknowledge hard work and success and after each success to set further goals to deeper understanding and progression. By always establishing and updating goals it is fairly impossible to become satisfied since there is still something to work on. There is still something to tackle and to overcome.
A beginner, from the very first class, is pushed pass his or her comfort zone; everything from falling to learning how to kiai for the first time. Pretty much everything that is taught and expected of a beginner is unfamiliar and uncomfortable for the first few classes and so forth. This causes an explosion of new information and stimulus that one has never experienced but the student learns and develops at a steady and increasing rate as a result. If a student always stays within his or her own comfort zone then the student will never push him or herself to do new things and explore new aspects and levels of learning and understanding, which applies directly to physical and mental aspects. Think about it, if one never makes the effort to go through the mental exhaustion of trying to figure out Jushin (which is a continual process in and of itself) and instead just accepts it at it’s face value, as simply the line that splits the body in half then would that person truly ever understand what Kokondo techniques are all about and why they work? Or would a student really know what a good zenkutsu dachi is if the student never pushes that stance past the comfort of his or her own muscles? Sitting in the stance and pushing it past the comfort level allows a student to know what a good zenkutsu feels like but also it teaches the body to recognize a good stance. This all boils down to pushing past that comfort zone, getting comfortable with that push, and then pushing even further, then repeating the cycle over and over again.
One should never think that he or she knows everything or that there will ever come a point in time when that will happen. This is one of the most dangerous and threatening thoughts that can hinder growth. The minute one starts believing that he or she knows everything there is to know about something, that’s when one stops learning about it. Learning requires active participation on the part of the student. The student has to recognize there is something to learn and then endeavor to discover it, and finally desire to understand it to deeper levels. That process cannot take place if the original recognition of ignorance to the topic does not exist. If you think there’s nothing left to learn then that’s what will be left for you. Nothing! I’m still learning new things about front double wrist grab and I look forward to having that same feeling in twenty, thirty years from now. The ongoing process of discovery and learning is one of things that make Kokondo and having the beginner’s mindset so much fun. For example, it’s been my experience that when students finally understand how to get both legs up in the air in Osoto gari and then are able to actually do it, their faces just light up and I can see the excitement that they feel. If one can understand that feeling or understand how it may feel one day to be able to do that, then imagine having that feeling the rest of one’s life. This is a start to understanding one of the reasons why Kokondo is so great.
Never thinking one knows everything goes hand in hand with assuming there is always something else to learn. One thing that can frequently happen with students is when they feel they have “gotten a technique” they assume the intellectual part of a technique is over or limited and now it’s just a matter of physical repetition and familiarity with a technique that leads to advancement. Although these are two important components to furthering one’s skills, it is not the end of intellectual understandings and discovery. There are so many different angles of analyzation through which to pick apart each technique. The discovery of these different angles can be an exciting and everlasting process through which advancement and higher understanding can take place. It’s what eventually allows a student to start and continue to understand the “cracks and crevices, nooks and crannies” of a technique or any aspect of Kokondo.
These are just a few features of having the beginner’s mindset, features that are everlastingly important to the development of any good Kokondo Ka. It took me a little bit to understand that it was not about knowing everything but more about the journey one takes in learning that really counts, and making sure that journey never ends. That’s what is truly important and what makes a student considered advanced. In fact an advanced student is really just a beginner at heart, one who is not happy until each technique and aspect of Kokondo is looked at and experienced through an infinite number of perspectives and angles.
The evolution of jujitsu from the past to the present through the arts of classical jujitsu, Kodokan judo (Kano Jiu-Jitsu), and Jukido Jujitsu
By Sensei George M. Rego
The concept of “change” is often perceived as a negative in the context of traditional martial arts. As a modern traditionalist this is not my view. The ability to flexibly adapt is a necessary requisite for long term success. Winston Church Hill once said, “there is nothing wrong with change as long as it’s in the right direction.”
The ‘gentle art’ (jujitsu – somtimes spelled jujutsu or jiu-jitsu) is, in part, build on the ideology of being able to adapt to the circumstances presented in the course of a combative encounter in order to achieve victory without directly meeting force against force. This guiding principle has been expanded beyond the scope of an individual combative encounter and has been applied the art itself. That is to say, the art of jujitsu – even traditional jujitsu has had to adapt in order avoid a “force on force” collision between the past and the present to ensure it’s applicability in the modern world. This evolution has taken us from classical schools of jujitsu, to Kodokan Judo, to an approach to jujitsu that is consisitant with the intent & principles of classical schools, while embracing the technical improvements and realities of the present day – the brainchild of Shihan Paul Arel, the Jukido school of Jujitsu.
The classical schools of jujitsu, also known as koryu jujitsu, were the resource of the feudal warriors of Japan (samurai) when their weapons were gone or as an augment to armed combat. The application of classical jujitsu was real in everyway and nothing was artificial. The intent of this classical forms of the ‘gentle art’ was absolute combat effectiveness and victory against a larger, stronger, and often armed attacker in the course of a larger battle between warring clans. There was no need for grading ranks or conducting rank evaluations in the classical schools. Survival in battle was the metric by which one’s expertise and experience was measured. Although the arts of war were highly respected they were not viewed as a type of philosophy. These were the tools of war. The objective was clear: utilize the full scope of techniques, be it a throw, a choke, a joint break, or whatever else was necessary in order to eliminate the threat and move on until the objective was complete. The practice of classical jujitsu was often very crude and even dangerous. The term “ju” in the name jujitsu, loosely translates as gentle or flexible. In koryu jujitsu this had much more to do with the guiding principle of the art then it had to do with the actual physical practice. To some extent this was necessary and beneficial for preparing warriors for the reality of combat, which included discomfort and physical pain. An old samurai maxim reads, “cry in the dojo, laugh in the battle field.”
Things change. In fact, in the later part of the 19th century everything in Japan changed in a major way – including the extinction of the samurai and the relevance of the form of jujitsu that they practiced. Japan’s attempt to modernize in every way, including militarily, lead to a major clash between the past and the present. Despite being among the best warriors to ever walk the face of the earth, the samurai met their match with the advent of a modern military which waged war not with the use of swords or close range hand to hand combat but rather with the use of firearms and the ability to ensure large scale damage to an enemy at greater and greater distances. When met with this clash between past and present, there were two essential choices: (1) fight force on force with the inevitable(and necessary) change or (2) flexibly adapt in order to ensure long term survival, viability, and success.
A young intellectual and student of classical jujitsu by the name of Jigoro Kano, understood the dilemma facing the art that he loved. Kano understood that in order for jujitsu to survive it needed to undergo some very radical changes. Kano’s assessment was that jujitsu; with a modification in approach (in terms of intent, technique, and public relations) could not only survive but also thrive in modern Japan and, eventually, the rest of the world. Kano began by viewing jujitsu in a larger context. No longer was it to be viewed as a form of (outdated) battlefield combat but as an endeavor that all people (children, women, and men of all classes) could pursue in order to better themselves and society physically and mentally. In this vein he eventually decided to de-emphasize the term jujitsu (gentle art) in favor of the more encompassing judo, or gentle way. Today judo is considered it’s own art, separate from jujitsu. At that time, however, judo was seen as a new approach to the same art. The terms jujitsu (or jiu-jitsu) and judo were often used interchangeably referring to the same art (in early days, Kano’s art was also called Kano Jiu-Jitsu). Of course, Kano faced some resistance in these changes – but over time the majority of jujitsu schools merged into his school – the Kodokan. In fact, other arts, such as Gichin Funakoshi’s school of karate (Shotokan) adopted some of the same changes as it pertains to an academic approach to martial arts.
The changes adopted by Kano Sensei were vast. Kano, being a professor, approached all changes academically. Among one of the most significant changes was the restructuring of the art to make it safe and enjoyable to practice. This lead to the development of ukemi waza or falling techniques. To many it is hard to believe that before Kano and his innovations there was not a universally accepted method or standard for teaching students how to fall. Safety for the person receiving the technique was jot a major priority in the classical schools – considering that the goal was to maim or kill the receiver. In many classical schools the person receiving the technique in practice was often injured and learned how to fall through trial and error. This safer approach was consistent in the new school of Judo, defined by one of Jigoro Kano’s two guiding principles – Jita Kyoei, or “mutual benefit and welfare.” The training uniform or “gi” was also an important innovation that encouraged not only new techniques and modes of practice but also safety. These innovations, combined with some technical modifications, allowed judo-ka (judo practitioners) to practice their techniques at full intensity and power, while still ensuring “mutual benefit and welfare.” The most dangerous techniques were either eliminated or reserved for practice through kata (formal exercises).
Kano also devised an academic method of ranking students progress through a system of kyu & dan that were represented by colored belts. The kyu ranks were represented (over time) by variety of colored belts and a black belt symbolized the dan ranks. This system has been adopted almost universally in modern martial arts systems (gendai budo). This ranking system allowed students to track experience and expertise without the having to engage in actual combat (as in the classical schools). It also was a method of allowing students to set both short and long-term goals. Having a set of pre-determined markers motivated students in their ongoing progress while studying the art of judo. Again, the motivation was no longer simply a matter of day-to-day survival as it had been for the warriors who studied classical jujitsu.
Among the most significant of the changes was Master Kano’s demand for a rational and scientific approach to all techniques. Kano did not emphasize aspects of martial arts that could are often attributed to the success of techniques, such as “ki” or vital energy. This is not to say that Kano did believe in the martial concept of ki. Kano simply emphasized it, along with all other principles in his art, as a matter of science and not mysticism. This approach lead to the second of Judo’s two guiding principles, Seiryoku Zen’yo, or “best utilization of energy.”
Under Kano’s vision, Judo evolved to have three distinct but complementary facets. The first facet was Judo as a means of physical education & way of life. The second facet was Judo as an updated method of civilian self defense in the modern world. The third facet was a competitive method of training and sport.
Due of the relative safety at which students could practice full speed, full power techniques in Judo, Kano included randori (freestyle practice) and shiai (randori as an actual competition) as the third facet of judo. In addition to randori as a means to test each student’s spirit of self-improvement and as a “laboratory” to test one’s techniques – Kano felt it was an important method of training in lieu of the reality of actual combat. Surely, Kano realized that randori did not encompass the entire scope of an actual combative encounter (all techniques designed to maim the attacker were eliminated). Nonetheless, he believed that the ability to match techniques against someone of comparable skill in a circumstance that allowed for full resistance was a useful tool in conjuring up the realism of combating someone who has the same objective you do and can use all the same skills you can. It was, in some way, a method of objectively testing one’s skill. If one’s only mode of practice was that of pre-arranged attacks and defenses, it could breed a type of false confidence in one’s abilities. If one was consistently beaten in randori they not only learned from the experience but it made it difficult for them to think they were better then they actually were. Kano viewed this as a positive development, so long as it was kept in balance with the other methods of practice, including kata, and the other facets of Judo (self defense & physical/intellectual education).
Once again, things change. Although Kano was hugely successful in his dream of preserving the art he loved and making it an international art, the essential balance between the three facets he envisioned gradually grew out of balance (despite his efforts and wishes). The sportive aspect of the art became the priority and focus. Gradually the other aspects of the art were seen as less important or sometimes even a nuisance. The kata training in Judo today is often viewed as an obstacle to get through in order to achieve rank. Some Judo-ka, no longer practice kata at all or even basic self defense attacks. The sensei is often times no longer referred to as sensei but rather as “coach.” The ultimate goal of judo seems to be success in competition. The positive aspects of randori in terms of self-defense benefit have been greatly minimized due to lack of balance between the other methods of practice. One can view the cleanliness of technique form early Kodokan Judo footage to today’s modern judo and most certainly see techniques that are no longer designed to be effective in combat (and randori) but exclusively effective for competition. The standard for what was once considered clean and effective technique has most certainly changed.
In 1959 a young American martial artist and marine who had practiced both a little known family form of classical jujitsu (sanzyuryu jujitsu) as well as Kodokan Judo saw the need for change. Shihan Paul Arel saw that not only was Judo becoming out of balance but there were also attempts by some Judo instructors to pass off instruction in the art of ‘jujitsu’ by simply incorporating a few sloppy strikes into the Judo syllabus. A young Shihan Arel began to formulate an approach to jujitsu that took the many positive changes and innovations that Kano had developed in the art of Judo (coupled with contributions from other sources) and reapplied them back to the original art and intent of jujitsu.
Shihan Arel began calling this unique approach, Jukido. Although the art of Jukido has certainly evolved over time as Shihan Arel himself has evolved as both a martial artist and sensei – his intent wasn’t necessarily to create a new “style” of jujitsu. Rather, it was simply a name that he thought was consistent with the approach and refocus he wanted to bring to the art. By utilizing a unique name it highlighted that this wasn’t the current form of Judo that was popular on the tournament circuit and it certainly wasn’t a form of judo that occasionally taught a few striking techniques and called itself “jujitsu.” This was something unique – it was traditional, yet new. It’s intent and principles were influenced much more heavily from the “past” but at the same time recognized and embraced the necessary changes to meet the demands of modern self defense. Additionally, the art of Jukido gladly embraced the positive changes that were brought on by Judo (such as safety in training, ukemi waza, ranking systems, etc.). From the beginning the approach of the Jukido school of Jujitsu was always geared toward intent of original jujitsu, combat effectiveness in real encounters. This truly made and makes Jukido Jujitsu unique in it’s approach. It is not a classical system of jujitsu, but it is certainly traditional in it’s ideology. It embraces the best of the past and the best of the present in jujitsu training.
Jukido Jujitsu does include a specialized form of randori in its training regimen, but the intent is not sport. In addition to being emphasized as an area to have fun within a very serious system of self-defense, it does allow for some of the same qualities that Jigoro Kano desired for the study of randori. Mainly, it allows students to develop that area of technique and allows one to feel (to some degree) the realities of facing a skilled opponent in an environment of non-compliance and full resistance.
Unlike many schools in modern Judo, Jukido continues to utilize kata as a central and inseparable part of practice. Self-defense effectiveness is the ultimate goal of Jukido Jujitsu as it pertains to the physical aspects of the art. As such, pre-arranged and random self-defense training at a variety of intensity levels is a major aspect of Jukido Jujitsu training. Jukido surely adopts the Kano philosophies of seiryoku zen’yo (best utilization of energy) and jita kyoei (mutual benefit and welfare) as a part of the training environment. However, it does not allow these philosophies to water down its combat effectiveness, as in most schools of Aikido. In many schools of Aikido a beautiful and dynamic art is taught, but in most honest assessments the art is not directly applicable to realistic self defense with an attacker who is non compliant and fully resisting.
Jukido includes almost the entire nage-waza (throwing techniques) of Kodokan Judo, although some throws are eliminated that are designed solely for competitions and are dangerous to utilize in actual self defense. The methods of practice, such as uchi komi and nage komi are emphasized, as are the principles of kuzushi (off-balancing), tsukuri (set up), and kake (execution) in Jukido Jujitsu. At higher ranks, older style jujitsu techniques are also incorporated under close supervision of senior instructors. A key difference is that these throws are not relegated only for formal position practice. These throws are always taught within the construct of pre-arranged self-defense techniques and gradually in random self-defense situations with increasing levels of resistance from training partners.
The ne-waza (ground fighting techniques) common in Judo are also taught in Jukido Jujitsu. However, here again the objective is not necessarily to out-grapple the individual for the sake of a hold-down pin or joint lock. These techniques are applied always in the broader context of comprehensive self-defense. Jukido Jujitsu also has grown to incorporate the basics or kihon-waza of karate in a way that does not conflict with the principles of jujitsu.
Again, Jukido is unique in that it embraces the intent and principles of the past while simultaneously, embracing the necessary innovations and improvements of the present. Shihan Arel’s system of jujitsu has taken these positive changes and reapplied them to the original purpose of classical jujitsu. Today, the art continues to change, as the “present” requires. As one example, Jukido Jujitsu’s honbu (headquarters dojo) is currently working on programs to deal with the modern phenomenon of school shootings as well as modern police defensive tactics. As new dangers evolve, so too will the development of jujitsu and in particular the Jukido system of jujitsu. The art must remain viable and relevant in the present while not forgetting the lessons and wisdom of the past. Balance equals power. Tradition and evolution do not have to necessarily conflict in a force on force battle – Shihan Arel and his method of jujitsu have proved this. Change, even in traditional martial arts, is not a negative – so long as we remember the wise words of Winston Church Hill, “there is nothing wrong with change as long as it’s in the right direction.”
By Ms. Ellen Scherr (Shodan)
Jukido Jujitso Academy; Palm Coast, Florida
They surround me and their ragged breath envelopes me. They scowl at me and I see they will attack me at any moment. They are three large men, all with the intent of harming me. Why am I not afraid? Well, I could say it’s because I train in Jukido Jujitsu, a powerful form of self defense. And that would be true. But I’m also in the dojo, and the people beginning to attack me are my training partners and my friends. I have to push that thought out of my mind, however. To me they are my mortal enemies. I need to use their energy against them. Because using our opponent’s energy against them, using it to our advantage, is what Jukido is all about. Sankosho, the official Kokondo guidebook, defines ki as “use of inner force.” In other words, ki is our internal energy. Ki is such an essential part of our art that it is also part of our style’s name, Jukido. Without ki, we would have no kuzushi or Jushin, major principles of Jukido Jujitsu. Jukido-ka are able to take their experiences with ki outside of the dojo, which can be called mental kuzushi. It is this same energy, in the form of motivation, that enables one to reach their shodan and beyond.
Kuzushi is a major way we use ki in Jukido. Without ki, Jukido Jujitsu would be a martial art based on strength alone. By redirecting our opponent’s energy and using it against them, we use strength efficiently, instead of wasting it. We hijack their power, overextending them beyond where they want to go, and controlling their body. No matter what the attacker does, we are always one step ahead of them, manipulating their force. Using ki, we can, in a sense, predict where the attacker will go. It may seem mysterious and complex, but it is really relatively straightforward. For instance, if an attacker lunges for you, where will the attacker go next? In all probability, they will continue their attack in the same direction they began it, because energy is difficult to stop without having the knowledge of how to control it. The next thing the attacker knows, they are down on the floor or in a painful kansetsu waza—they haven’t controlled their ki properly, and they have made it simple for the experienced Jukido-ka to over-extend them and make them go where they want the attacker to go.
Jushin is another way we use ki in Jukido Jujitsu. It may not be as obvious as kuzushi, but it’s equally important. By putting our techniques on center line, called Jushin in Japanese, we force our attacker to resist their own body, which, in turn, uses energy. Their body folds on itself; they cannot use their energy to escape in any direction except inward—and the more they use their energy to resist, the more pain they experience. The three types of Jushin, vertical, horizontal, and triangular, all draw on this effective use of the attacker’s ki. And there is nothing the attacker can do to prevent this result, short of discontinuing their attack.
Outside of the dojo, we can use someone’s mental energy and use it the same way we use kuzushi in the dojo. For example, refusing to get angry with someone when they are angry with you is an example of mental kuzushi. Instead of taking the force of their verbal blows head-on, one would stay polite and use their anger against them, or at least declining to take the bait they set for you. Instead, simply walk away and ignore them, or say something that would not anger them further. Say something that wouldn’t give them any power over you, don’t let them see that you’re angry. This is another simple way to use ki. Also, doing things when you are told is a way of using ki in the form of mental kuzushi. Instead of resisting, go with your boss’s energy. It saves a lot of energy from being wasted. You’re going to do whatever it is in the end, anyway. Why waste breath and possibly get in trouble on the way?
In conclusion, you can see that the art of Jukido Jujitsu could not exist without the use of ki. It is the knowledge of ki that makes Jukido so unique, giving it an “edge” over many other martial arts. If we did not have the knowledge of how to harness and employ this life force to our advantage, our martial art would be no more than a pointless conglomeration of useless, ineffective techniques. It is ki that makes Jukido so powerful. The ability to understand it, to control it, is what makes Jukido such a formidable and effective martial art. It is, in turn, the same ability to utilize both our ki and that of our attackers, that make a martial artist great.
By Mr. Chris Smith (Probationary Shodan)
Jukido Jujitsu Academy Palm Coast, Florida
The summer I turned 13 my friends and I would often spend our Saturdays by jumping on a bus and heading down to Chinatown in Washington DC. We would go to catch the 12 hour Martial Arts movie marathons that frequented DCs Chinatown theaters. Once the bus let us off and hopefully before the movies started we would work our way through the little shops that carried a curious jumble of all things Asian. Among their wares they would stock apothecary supplies, Asian works of art, clothing, piles of Shark fins, Chinese pottery, cotton soled shoes, incense – you name it, but most importantly they carried a giant selection of Martial Arts supplies. We got to handle steel chain dart whips, throwing stars, three section staffs, nun chucks, uniforms, sashes, real tiger balm (to make you hands hard as iron!), and books on every exotic Martial Art under the sun. We of course touched everything at least once, dreaming of the day we would be martial arts masters. One of the Chinese shop owners would sometimes give us small demonstrations in the Kungfu School he ran next to his shop on how a certain weapon might be used (and point out the appropriate book to purchase along with it). He was absolutely amazing to watch in action. We would ask him to teach us some small move to get us started but in his broken English he would tell us that the Secret was in the book or in Class. So we gave him our yard cutting money and purchased staffs, nun chucks, darts, any number of Martial Arts gizmos as well as the appropriate books and apparel.
We spent many an hour that summer tossing throwing stars into trees, accidently bonking ourselves in the heads with nun chucks and generally playing at be Martial Artist. I can honestly say that those were some of the best days of my life and though our parents found and confiscated our goods, there was something truly magical about the experience. None of us ever got very good at using any of these elusive Martial Gizmos. And we all knew why – there were Secrets to using them that just were not taught in the books and none of us were willing to give up the movies for a 2 pm Kungfu class on a Saturday afternoon. So we continued going to the movies and dreamed about being Martial Arts masters.
Fast forward 32 years.
The other night we were practicing a cross wrist grab escape, Ichibai tekubi uke. I love this te waza for several reasons. First it contains in a clearly demonstrative fashion the elemental sustenance of Jukido Jujitsu and the role that each part plays in all our waza.
Kuzushi – creating or leverage momentums and the homeostatic nature of human biology and aggression.
Shorinji – manipulating the inherent momentums of Kuzushi – taking advantage of Newton’s First and Third Laws of motion.
[Newton’s First Law: The Law of Inertia that states “A body in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted on by an outside force”.]
[Newton’s Third Law: The Law of interaction that states “For Every action in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction”.]
Jushin – framing the waza in the most advantageous physical metric allowing for the least amount of applied energy and the greatest return on investment.
[Sadi Carnots 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics: First Law states that Energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. The Second Law states that Energy tends to flow from being concentrated to becoming diffused and spread out along the path of least resistance. Jushin tends to reverse this action, condensing the Energy towards a static position.]
Secondly I love the waza because It demonstrates the undeniable effectiveness of Jukido Jujitsu and for me personally the technique was a real milestone in giving up my natural desire to substitute strength for technique. After a few dozen repetitions I heard a nearby student tell his partner – “I just don’t get this – what’s the secret?”
From my point of view he seemed to be doing a great job with the technique given his rank but putting myself in his shoes I can understand why it seemed like he wasn’t taught the secret even though our Sensei had stopped the class several times to give general corrections and had meticulously gone over the core concepts with the class as a whole. I would have liked to save him a lot of time and point him in the right direction by stopping and pointing to the sign in the Dojo that states in Japanese “Shut up and Train” and tell him The Secret is – There is no Secret – Shut up and Train and the rest will follow.
It may sound anticlimactic but if I learned nothing else its – that is the secret – there is no secret – just training and diligence. The Chinese man that sold the Martial Arts supplies tried to tell me that when I was a kid but I was sure there was a short cut. So here I am 32 years later and I can tell you – I never found a short cut until I started to train on a regular basis. If you want to be a good Martial Artist you must train to be one. You must attend class as your schedule allows, you must train on your own. You must think of yourself asa Martial Artist and then live up to that vision. I would go further by sighting my own experience with Jukido by saying that although you’re Sensei can guide your daily training régime he cannot hold your hand and encourage you outside the Dojo. You must take personal responsibility for your training and act accordingly if you intend to progress.
A few weeks ago, late at night I was practicing Kata under the street lights of the parking lot at the school across the street from my house. It’s a great place to go and practice kata. Isolated, flat, clean – a small pound to look at, trees and all the room I could possibly need. During my third or fourth set it had started to rain a little – I love the rain – I thought to myself, “I hope at 80 I’m still able to do this” and it occurred to me that even as I spoke, some place there was an 80 year old man practicing kata – maybe in the rain – at that exact moment. I came to the realization that the circle of budo as a tradition and art was timeless and I was just one budoka in the long line of practitioners that had come before me. That many people had chosen to simply “shut up and train” and that this choice, once taken to heart, was what separated them from the students who had started and for one reason or another stop. I imagined my 80 year old counterpart having gone through many of the struggles we all go through, the ups and downs of life and in the end he was still standing, working on his retraction and trying to ignore the pain in his left knee. Ossu!
As I sit here and write this, I wish that there would be a single story or memory that I could recount to provide testimony to the extraordinary life that Shihan Arel lead. I can’t. Perhaps this is because there are simply too great a number of lasting memories of such a wonderful man to be contained in just a single story or two.
A few years ago on my birthday, Master Howard, gave me a birthday card in which he handwrote the following quote:
Nothing so strong as gentleness; Nothing so gentle as real strength
Since that time I’ve utilized that quote in many ways and have tried to extract the simple, yet powerful, meaning behind these words – both as a man and as a martial artist. In fact, in many ways, it has shaped my path in Kokondo in a significant way. When I think about Shihan Arel, I can’t help but think of these words yet again. He was uniquely the strongest man and the gentleness man I’ve ever known.
Just three weeks ago, Shihan Arel taught the final seminar & classes of his nearly 59-year devotion to authentic martial arts. I am overcome with emotion and honor to think that this happened in our Florida dojo. To think that at the end of this session, he promoted three of our students to the rank of black belt. The final dans he promoted were students of mine… How can one express the sense of gratitude, obligation, and honor?
This trip was difficult for him and it in my heart I knew it would be his last. However, you wouldn’t have known it simply talking to him and receiving his masterful instruction. At this seminar and throughout his life, he showed me real strength – strength through gentleness. At his weakest physically, he was stronger then I had ever seen him. He was the definition of a warrior. His life was an living example of Bushido. We’ve shared many moments together, but these final days together were of immense significance as he expressed his pride in me personally and in our dojo in such an emphatic way.
Shihan Arel always believed in doing one’s best and stressed this simple, yet powerful, theme often. Every time we say “Ossu!” we shall remember him. We loosely translate “Ossu” as any type of positive acknowledgment. Ossu is taken from two Japanese Kanji that means to “push through” or to “persevere.” The spirit of “Ossu” and the repeating of Ossu is to encourage all to keep doing their best, to keep pushing forward, to preserve despite hard training or hard times. In the spirit of Shihan Arel’s mighty “Ossu!” – we must do exactly that. We must continue to push the growth of his arts and to preserve. He is not here, but his legacy and spirit will live on forever.
There is so much I can say…but nothing seems to be enough. I will conclude with what my most senior student, Rachel Matheney, wrote of Shihan Arel on our dojo’s behalf. These words were presented to him, along with a variety of Kokondo photos, in a frame during our final dinner together at the conclusion of our seminar. Although words are not enough, I feel these words are the best we can do:
“The greatness of a man’s legacy is determined by the lives he’s touched and how those lives touch others. Shihan you have truly touched each and every life you have come in contact with. We are eternally grateful for all you have done. No amount of words could express our gratitude. There is nothing we could do to ever repay what you have done. However, we promise to stay true to Kokondo and your vision and pass on Kokondo as you wish it to be. Thank you Shihan! You are truly an inspiration! We love you!”
Shihan Arel, My Sensei, My Hero…. I miss you so much. I love you sensei. Until we meet again.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), & Jukido Jujitsu
This text is taken from a question posted on Yahoo Answers – November 2009 – Reply by George Rego
The reply provided was authored by Sensei Rego of the Jukido Jujitsu Academy and was awarded the “best answer” by the original poster (who asked the question). Several answers were provided. The original content can be found by clicking here:
Why don’t any mma fighters train in kokondo karate or jukido jujitsu? Along with the normal Muay Thai and BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) or boxing and wrestling training, either of these 2 forms of martial arts seem like they could make an excellent addition to an mma fighter skill set.
I am 18 I train in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I want to add a third martial art to my agenda. Do you advised either Kokondo karate, Jukido jujitsu, or Shotokan karate?
Please try to answer each question without the cliche answer. Thanks 🙂
Reply by Yahoo User – JukidoAcademy (Choosen as best answer by the asker):
There are a few primary reasons that MMA Fighters do not utilize either of the Kokondo arts (Jukido Jujitsu & Kokondo Karate).
First and foremost, the martial arts of Kokondo do not focus on the application of martial arts techniques for sport (MMA, Point Karate, Judo, etc.), but rather focus on the application of these arts in realistic self-defense for civilians. As such, the focus of the training deals much more with the prospects of dealing with a gun disarm, a surprise attack in a parking lot, child abduction, or a rape situation. There are forms of freestyle practice (randori – as found in Kodokan Judo) and Jiyu-Kumite (as found in many karate systems – Kokondo Karate’s history is tied to a very hard style, Kyokushin Karate) found in Kokondo – but it is always, ultimately, directed toward application in self-defense and not competitive sparring.
That isn’t to say that the training of an MMA Figher or a Kokondo student is better or worse, it is simply different. A Navy Seal or Marine would likely do better in the streets of Iraq then would a champion MMA Fighter. The MMA Fighter would do a lot better in an MMA bout then that very same Navy Seal or Marine. This is not a reflection of “how good” their training is, but rather what their training specifically prepares them to do. The same could be said for a Boxer in an MMA match or a MMA fighter in a boxing match – it is relative to their experience and the “environment” they are engaging in and prepared for.
Secondly, although the arts of Jukido Jujitsu and Kokondo Karate are practiced internationally – when compared to other styles, it is relatively small in scale. Coupled with several other reasons, this definitely makes it a lot less likely to see a student of this art competing. Arts like Judo and Shotokan Karate, which are BY FAR the largest arts in the world (in terms of the number of people who pratice), have VERY few individuals who compete in MMA – one could probably count the number of well-known/accomplished Judo players in MMA on one hand. As such, having an art with much fewer members (when compared to the giant that is competitive Judo) is unlikely.
Lastly, although the term “mixed” martial arts originally referred to the idea of various styles “mixing it up” in this type of competition (judo vs. karate, boxing vs. taekwondo, etc.), today that really isn’t the case. In that sense, the name is almost a misnomer. Today the typical MMA figther practices in a base of wrestling, muay thai, brazilian jiu-jitsu, and boxing – and then practices applying it towards the unifed rules of MMA. There are some who deviate from that, but as a general rule – that is what MMA “is.” Although there are some exceptions, the overwhelming majority are now training in “MMA” itself as opposed to something else and then trying to compete with it in an MMA match. This is the natural progression. If you want to prepare for Olympic Judo competition, you don’t go to an MMA gym – you go to a Judo dojo. If you want to train and compete in MMA, it would be unwise to train in Judo under the rules of the Olympic Judo Committee. Two different sports, which prepare you for different rules and environments. This goes back to the first point – most who want to compete will seek out a style conducive to this. If one wants to learn self-defense as the number one priority, they will seek out an appropriate system – be it Kokondo Karate, Jukido Jujitsu, Krav Maga, etc.
Lastly, as a previous poster mentioned – because the arts of Jujitsu (through its off-shoots, Judo and Brazlian Jiu-Jitsu) and Karate are to some extent involved in MMA, techniques found in Kokondo are also seen in MMA (from throws, to ground work, to striking techniques) – the difference is in application, not in the individual technique itself. A hip throw may be utilized by someone who doesn’t have formal judo or jujitsu training – but it doesn’t mean it isn’t a hip throw found in judo or jujitsu (whether they call themselves a judo-ka / judo player or not doesn’t make a real difference).
I hope this provides some context.
Good luck to you.
Reply by Yahoo User – WP (original poster):
Asker’s Rating: Asker’s Comment:
Wow thanks. That answered alot, it didnt leave me hanging like most of the answers I recieve.
Note: Minor edits applied for grammatical reasons.
About the Author (replied to original post):
Sensei George Rego is the Chief Instructor of the Florida Jukido Jujitsu Academies (FJJA), which has its main dojo in Palm Coast, Florida (Jukido Academy of Martial Arts). Other programs & dojo are also run under the direction of the FJJA. The Jukido Academy is, by far, the longesting running martial arts school in Flagler County and Palm Coast, FL. The FJJA serves as the regional representative of the International Kokondo Association (IKA). He also serves officially as the IKA Regional Supervisor. Sensei Rego began his training under the tutelage of the founder of Jukido Jujitsu, Shihan Paul Arel, and was promoted directly by him and the IKA to the rank of Yodan (fourth degree black belt) in Jukido Jujitsu. Since the beginning of his training as a child, he has also been guided by Kaicho Gregory Howard, the successor to Shihan Paul Arel. For the entirity of Sensei Rego’s martial arts studies has he has been a direct private student of the world’s most senior master of Jukido Jujitsu.
Japanese martial arts are divided into two separate and very distinct categories; Bujutsu and Budo. Bujutsu is the older of the two and are quite literally the “martial arts” of Japan with goal being the absolute effective application of fighting techniques in combat. Budo is the younger of the two categories and traditionally there is no budo form of an art without its bujutsu parent. The budo are literally the “martial ways” of the Japanese fighting arts. The budo or martial ways, in contrast to bujutsu, are far less concerned with practical and realistic application of techniques in the modern age, but much more focused on the perfection of the moral fiber of the individual budo student. In essence, the goal is to translate what the student learns in the dojo and apply it to everyday life. One famous statement by Karate master, Sensei Gichin Funakoshi summarizes the budo ideal clearly, “The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants.”
Famous martial arts historian, Donn Draeger, stated it well when he wrote; “Budo is concerned with self-perfection and Bujutsu is concerned with self-protection.” To a degree this is simplifying the differences in approach, but it clearly separates the two categories. All too often the Japanese martial arts are lumped together as one, but it should be clear to all those who are interested in entering the study of martial arts and to all those currently studying martial arts that there is a distinct and critical difference between the bujutsu and budo. The ideal instruction in true Budo on a philosophical and physical level makes the student confront himself in the dojo on a daily basis, the confrontation is between him and the mental image of who he thinks he is – the perception and the reality. Intense training, or shugyo, forces the student to look inward and find depths of himself he wasn’t aware of – with the goal of becoming the best one can become in daily life. On a technical level the budo are concerned with the aesthetics of a technique very often; that is to say, how “good” it looks as opposed to its realistic application.
Bujutsu, has it’s own shuygo (intensive training), but the goal is not by any means the perfection of character but rather preparing the warrior for the eventuality and reality of real life combat with the correct technique being the difference between life and death. The goal of bujutsu is simply surviving and being successful in real confrontations. A modern example might be the marine. The modern solider isn’t learning how to use an AK-47 for the perfection of character, they are learning how to use their weapon(s) for combat – this is how training is approached in classical bujutsu.
Most budo and bujutsu arts are clearly identifiable by their names. The arts that are bujutsu usually end with the suffix “jutsu” or “jitsu.” Some examples are: jujitsu/jujutsu, kenjutsu, aikijutsu, karate-jutsu, and so on. The budo arts are off-spring of the bujutsu arts that end with the suffix “do” (meaning “the way” or “path”). The budo forms of the arts mentioned previously would be: judo, kendo, aikido, and karate-do.
In the last few decades most of the budo have focused on sports and competition as the vehicle to self-perfection. This has resulted in not only unrealistic application of technique but the watering down of the “ideal” approach to budo. Budo forms that emphasize competition focus on scoring points and many of the older (more effective and dangerous) techniques are not allowed due to rules and regulations. This limits the student in terms of actual self-defense, where there are no competition guidelines. Even worse, the role of traditional sensei or teachers is being replaced with that of “coach.” These sensei/coach’s then begin to stress that budo and competition is about winning trophies for themselves and their schools – the emphasis becomes much more on beating the other team. This is not in line with the traditional ideal of budo, in which the only competition, was the competition with one’s self. This is drastically different from Master Funakoshi’s early emphasis on perfection of self rather then victory or defeat. Many modern schools and budo claim that they still follow the traditional or ideal path in which the perfection of one’s self is the goal – but actions speak louder then words – more often then not in these schools one will find the discussion much more on successful tournament strategy and not on self-perfection. The students who receive the most instruction are those who bring trophies back to display on their schools front window. These arts have grown to be “martially inspired arts” and are no longer true budo or bujutsu.
From a purely technical perspective Kokondo martial arts (Jukido Jujitsu & Kokondo Karate) fall into the “jutsu” category, because the absolute effectiveness of techniques in realistic self-defense scenarios is considered to be far more important then how well a technique does under the rules and regulations of competition. In fact, in Kokondo techniques effectiveness in sport is never even considered. The Jukido student learns self-defense from a “jutsu” perspective with appropriate response and absolute success as the goals.
From a philosophical and intellectual perspective, Kokondo is unquestionably a martial arts system that is dedicated to the ideals of real budo. In the Kokondo dojo, ideals such as the following are stressed:
Bushido – The Way of the Warrior: Courage, Justice, Politeness, Loyalty, Benevolence, Veracity, and Honor
Doing one’s best at all times, in or out of the dojo
In addition to this the number one rule in any Kokondo dojo is Safety. This reflects the budo ideal of mutual benefit and well being of all who train – in bujutsu training, safety was not held in high regard. Kokondo sensei stress the daily lives of students and the how this relates to safety (everyone needs to go to school or work the next day). The sensei find a balance between ensuring absolute effectiveness of technique while at the same time ensuring that all students are safe at every moment of training.
As one can see Kokondo is truly unique in that it is both budo and bujutsu. From a technical perspective it is bujutsu, with the emphasis being on absolutely effective techniques for self-defense based on appropriate response. From a philosophical and dojo relations point of view we lean on the budo perspective. Thus the name “Jukido Jujitsu” accurately reflects both “do” and “jutsu.” In Kokondo we strive to practice bujutsu and live budo.
Arel, Paul & Robert, Robert. Sankosho; The Warriors Path to Kokondo Martial Arts.: 2005
Draeger, Donn. The Martial Arts & Ways of Japan; Volume 1-2: 1973-1974
Learning traditional martial arts techniques without a proper philosophical foundation is not only dangerous but irresponsible. As Kokondo martial artists dedicate their training time to perfecting the physical techniques of Kokondo, they equally focus on living their lives in an honorable and noble way, fitting of a modern warrior. With power comes even greater responsibility, Kokondo martial artists understand this and embrace this very essential responsibility.
Following the tradition of the samurai, or warriors for feudal Japan, Kokondo students adhere to an ethical code, called Bushido. Bushido, literally meaning – the way of the warrior, is an ethical code that contains seven virtues:
Justice (Gi) – Fairness, equality, and a responsibility to uphold and enforce what is right.
Courage (Yu) – Often mistakenly defined as, fearlessness – this is incorrect. Those with courage feel fear like everyone else; the difference is that those with courage have the qualities that enable them to act despite their fears. The courage of the warrior allows him to control fear as opposed to having the fear control him.
Benevolence (Jin) – Being charitable; giving of one’s self, without expecting anything in return.
Politeness (Rei) – To conduct affairs in a respectful, dignified, well-mannered and courteous way.
Veracity (Makato) – To be honest, accurate, and precise with one’s words and actions.
Loyalty (Chugo) – Faithfulness and allegiance to family, teachers, ideals, and those who have been benevolent enough to give us something we cannot possibly pay back. In return, we give them respect and loyalty (how could one repay the gift of life to one’s parents, for example).
Honor (Meiyo) – To treat, show, and act with respect and/or reverence.
In many ways, today’s modern way of living is a far cry from the days when the warrior and non-warrior viewed this code as the most sacred and honorable way to live. Yet, with an updated perspective, one couldn’t find virtues more beneficial than these. Kokondo sensei worldwide work to instill this code in their students as an importance and essential counterweight to the martial techniques the students learn. In Kokondo the code of Bushido is held in the highest regard. Kokondo treats both sexes as equals, bigotry, racism, or discrimination of any kind is not tolerated. The long term success of any Kokondo student, in the dojo or in life, is very directly linked to his/her adherence and embrace of this powerful way of life – The way of the warrior; Bushido.
The Most Empowering Tool Parents Can Give Their Child…
In Part 1 of our Fighting Bullying series of blogs we discussed the Centerline Strategy of Jukido Jujitsu and our unique approach to teaching self-defense to children (and adults) at our Palm Coast, Florida school – Jukido Academy. This approach provides our children with the verbal, physical, and psychological tools to prevent themselves from being a bullied.
The study and mastery of true martial arts skills, studied for self-defense as opposed to sport, builds a truly solid foundation of confidence in our children. This foundation, as discussed in part 1, actually makes children much less likely to ever truly need to physically defend themselves; while at the same time ensuring that they can if it becomes necessary to do so! However, there is another tool that is equally as empowering for our children.
This tool can only be provided by parents!
What is this magic tool?
Permission and encouragement to assert themselves when necessary. Permission and the strongest possible encouragement possible to physically defend themselves if they are under attack. Assuring our children that they do NOT need to and SHOULD NOT negotiate with a bully who is in the middle of physically assaulting them. Children need to hear and know that their parents are not only OK with them standing up for themselves but that parents expect them to physically defend themselves. Kids need to know that they will NOT in be “in trouble” for defending themselves!
Unfortunately, and unintentionally, kids get the message from adults that they will “get in trouble” for “fighting.” It is considered one of the biggest No-No’s! “You better not get into fights!” or they hear vague messages about “just ignore” the bully or “just walk away.” Another is the message to “find an adult” if a bully is giving you trouble.
Behind all of this well intended advice is the underlying message that you shouldn’t ever have to get physically involved with a bully…
Jukido Academy kids working on Bully Prevention
School systems across the country have, on the surface, done a lot to address bullying via various anti-bullying campaigns. Much of the advice given, albeit often quite vague, isn’t bad…but it is incomplete because it fails to address the key moment when all solutions have failed and a child is now beyond being able to walk away because he or she is being physically assaulted by a bully.
In fact, most schools have “ZERO TOLERANCE” policy. We’ve had parents sign up their kids with us for private lessons after their child was suspended from school because they were involved in a “physical altercation.” The young child didn’t fight back (because they were afraid of getting in trouble…a fact most most bullies exploit in good kids) and was simply beat up. In one such case a school bus driver provided testimony to the fact that the young child did nothing but cover up and never throw a punch or a kick and asked for the bully to stop. However, the school’s “Zero Tolerance” policy states that whenever there is a physical altercation of any kind – all parties are suspended…so the bully and the victim receive the same punishment (I maintain that the victim is physically and psychologically punished in a manner that far exceeds the penalty the bully receives)!
The combination of this so-called Zero Tolerance policy and the parenting advice that strongly encourages kids to “walk away” and “not fight” comes to a breaking point when the child is at that critical moment where, despite his best efforts to put all the advice he has been given into practice, he is now a few seconds away from being physically assaulted by a bully with no help insight. It causes physical and psychological hesitation! He is at the crossroads of what he should do “in theory” versus the practical options he has right now – in reality! If he fights, he’ll get “in trouble” with school and parents. If he doesn’t fight – he’ll get in trouble anyway (zero tolerance policy) because he was involved in a “physical altercation” and didn’t “just walk away” — but at the same time if he does nothing he’ll risk his physically safety. What is the young child supposed to do in this situation?
Our position as a martial arts dojo, my position personal position as a self-defense teacher and as a father is crystal clear – you MUST protect yourself and you have my full permission to do so!
As my two girls grow from toddlers to school age and eventually into middle school and beyond – I will make the following crystal clear to them (the message I give my students):
DO NOT get into fights at school! Someone saying something bad about your clothing, me or your mother, or just being mean to you, does NOT give you the right do go over and whack them upside the head. It might be tempting to do so… that is a natural emotional reaction. However, your mother and I do NOT give you permission to get into fights over this type of confrontation. Be the bigger person and don’t engage with negative people. This is part of exercising restraint and discipline as a responsible martial artist. Violation of this family policy will bring consequences at home and at school that you won’t like.
HOWEVER…You DO HAVE OUR PERMISSION and WE WANT YOU TO protect yourself if your physical safety is at risk! We don’t care if it is from a child abductor, someone on the playground, or someone in school – if you are under attack you MUST protect yourself. Period. End of story. You are too important NOT to protect yourself and you will NOT get in trouble at home. Furthermore you have our permission to let a bully know that you are willing to stand up for yourself and protect yourself (not fight) if put in that position. If you get in trouble at school – you WON’T be in trouble at home. I would rather get a call from school telling me to pick you up because you protected yourself and are now suspended than getting a call from a hospital telling me you were severely beat up on a school bus. You have a right to protect yourself and we, as your parents, support that right. If you protect yourself in a legitimate way at school and get suspended – so be it.
In promoting this message of permission, coupled with the physical martial arts skills, as parents we empower our children and eliminate those key moments of physical and mental hesitation. The child, at that critical moment, doesn’t have to weigh the pros and cons of confronting a bully. He has a clear understanding of what he has and doesn’t have permission to do and knows that he has the blessing of his parents to do what is right. Fight back against bullying!
If you get a call telling you to pick up your kid from school because he was attacked and defended himself…but due to “zero tolerance” was suspended along with the bully. I would encourage you to pick up your kid and take him out for ice cream and let him know how proud of him you are for having the courage to do what was justified and right.
Does your child have that permission? Do they know they have that permission? How often do you remind them? Make sure they do…