Category Archives: Other’s Work

Beating the Bullies

A picture of Tony Butcher, performing an axe kick

Tony Butcher, 4th Dan Taekwondo Instructor

By Tony Butcher (4th Dan),
Ickenham Taekwondo Club
Church Road Taekwondo Club
Denham Village Taekwondo Club
Hayes End Taekwondo Club

Following major developments in social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, communication has never been easier and British Taekwondo have been actively encouraging its members to share all successes, initiatives and ideas with each other.

With this in mind, I’d like to introduce to you, a concept which I’ve developed, which has proved to be massively successful in my clubs, both with the children and the parents. I call it “Beat The Bully” and would welcome you to try this within your clubs.

A couple of years ago, I started getting parents reporting back to me that their child had experienced a bully outside the club, but at the time, did not have the confidence to use the techniques that they’d been shown in class. What became apparent to me, was that in class, if you held a pad up and asked them to demonstrate – for example – a Turning Kick or punch, they would have no problem and more often than not, the technique would be good quality.

However, once outside the Dojang, the children were clearly unable to think for themselves, in deciding the best form of defence, or were clearly lacking confidence in using the techniques.

Based on an idea that I’d seen on a Self Defence DVD, I started by asking one of the largest children in the class to put on a Hoogoo and Head Protector. His role was to be the school bully and I then had each child up one at a time, who would be “bullied” and had to defend themselves, by thinking on their own.
After each child had finished, the whole class would discuss how they’d done and how they could have improved, so that every person could learn for their next go.

For the duration of “Beat The Bully”, close supervising is essential, as it’s very easy for things to go wrong, as (unlike sparring), there are no rules! There are several points that are key to this exercise:

  1. No student should be forced to take part. I often get beginners who are hesitant and I recommend that they watch until they are confident.
  2. The “bullied” students should always wear a head protector if there are no mats.
  3. The “bullied” students are given clear instructions that they must shout “STOP”, if they are uncomfortable or want to stop. Some get very claustrophobic if they end up on the floor and this can lead to tears. The “bully(s)” has clear instructions to stop (or jump up if on the floor), if they hear the “bullied” student say “Stop”.
  4. The “bully” must be given clear instructions that they must act as you would expect a bully to do, ie – they are not to do any Taekwondo moves, but should be pushing, shoving, grabbing and maybe pretending to punch.
  5. The “bullied” child is allowed to kick and punch to the hoogoo. I allow a light slap to the head protector, but definitely no punching.
  6. The “bully” should avoid grabbing the “bullied” child around the neck and vice versa.
  7. For the older children or the more experienced/confident, I use two bullies, as this adds to the reality and tests the students thought process and techniques.
  8. Make sure that the “bullied” students don’t become too aggressive! I’ve had some youngsters race across the hall to try a Jumping Flying Side Kick on the “Bully”! I have to remind them that the exercise is “Beat The Bully” and not “BEAT UP The Bully”!!! (This is also a good opportunity to show Taekwondo’s 4th Tenet – Self Control!) There have also been a couple of occasions where the “bullied” child has ended up chasing the “bully” around the class, which would also need to be addressed!

When we started, the reaction varied from student to student. Some did well, others simply melted and crouched in a ball and put their hands over their head! Others ignored all the Taekwondo that they’d been taught and started grabbing the “bully’s” arms! In this instance, you have to advise them that grabbing the bully would be good for Judo or JuJitsu, but not for a Taekwondo practicioner.

Most of the time, both “bully(s)” and “bullied” usually end up on the floor as most fights do, so it’s vital to remind the “bullied” that they need to avoid going to the floor whenever possible and remember the techniques that they’ve been using. The students can also see how easy it is for a kick (particularly Turning Kick), to be caught by a bully, which forces them to see some of the reality of a real life situation and to rethink about strategy.

Over a period of time, my students have now started to think for themselves, which has allowed them to grow in confidence. As a result, they absolutely love the exercise and prefer it to one of the warm down games that I use for a well behaved class. (I also get worried that too many children want to play the part of the bully!!!)

As I mentioned earlier, “Beat The Bully” does require VERY close supervision to ensure that problems and injuries are extremely rare. There have been a couple of knocks and bruises, but no more than you’d get on your average training session. Parents have also been extremely supportive of this exercise, as they can see how it challenges the children and makes them think. They appreciate what I’m trying to achieve within my clubs and to ensure that all of my students become confident Black Belts and Instructors.

I hope that if you try it, it’ll prove just as successful for you and please make sure you let me have any feedback.

Tony Butcher

A picture of Niall Grange, in pose

Aging & Taekwondo part 2. Niall P. Grange

the following piece was written by one of my teachers, Master Niall Grange, and first published on Niall’s Facebook page. many thanks to Niall for permission to republish here. if i can track down part 1, I will repost it here too.

I wrote and published an essay more than a decade ago on what it was like to practice Taekwondo as a middle-aged person. Well 12 years on I’m now 63 and still at it…….I’m also still doing Taekwondo. (after a fashion)

I suppose the first thing I really should say is Taekwondo would not be the natural choice of someone in their late middle age to take up, particularly if they were to watch a demonstration by the Korean Tigers on YouTube. All that would do is to make them wish they were 40 years younger and would probably make the onset of arthritis seem worse than it really is and feeling quite depressed as they struggle to put on their slippers, and slump into their armchair with a large malt and think about what might have been.

When I wrote the first essay I was still competing and was a successful international technical judge. I could rely on most of my bits to operate pretty well, I could (much to the annoyance of my wife) bounce out of bed in the morning and run up to 10 miles before breakfast, and on other occasions bounce back into it… Now, the aging process doesn’t happen all of a sudden; it creeps up on you when you’re not looking, chipping away almost so you don’t notice, but eventually forcing you to accept that; the older you get the better you once were. Aging is like a mosquito bite, you only notice and hear it after it’s had its suck and left you feeling sore and itchy!

So what do you 30 or 40 something’s have to look forward to! Well, for a start you slow down, your reactions are slower and your ability to perform repeated turning kicks up and down the hall diminishes. (I must point out that this is not a problem for me, I could never do that anyway) Your side kicks and turning kicks hurt your supporting hip, in my case caused by the onset of arthritis. You get tired faster and your ability to remember old, or learn new techniques takes a little longer and, when injured it takes considerably longer to recover. You do however, develop a much greater understanding of Sir Isaac Newton’s law of gravity and that comes without the aid of a science degree, but by simply looking in the mirror and, if you are feeling really brave do it while naked……On second thoughts, probably not a great idea. Terrify the cat!

So why should any senior individual want to even consider taking up an activity like Martial Arts. Well, leaving aside the fact that anyone in late middle age is never likely to become an Olympic star ,or World champion the Martial Arts.has so much to offer the older student, such as helping to retain or maintain a sense balance, keeping supple, slowing down the possible onset of osteoporosis and other aging diseases, developing a new and mixed likeminded group of friends of all ages, which is important for mind stimulation.

It is very easy for the older person to lose self confidence, develop depression, as they approach or pass their retirement, the loss of a life partner, or just by the realisation of losing those feelings they once had, when they thought they could do anything and would live forever, and now, feeling the best of their life has gone. I believe Martial arts can help to redress this loss by learning new life skills, such as self-defence, or even Kup grade patterns/kata that can be practiced on their own. Martial arts, I promise, can help, and more importantly, by taking up any martial art the best could be yet to come.

The older person can take gradings which demonstrate their budding skills. it offers the same sense of achievement as it does for a younger person, in fact, I would say it has greater meaning than for the younger and fitter individual.
There is still the possibility of entering (Kata/Patterns) competitions even at international level, regardless of age and all this with very little possibility of being injured, but none the less, with a great adrenalin rush.

Beware however, this adrenalin rush could possibly reinvigorate those long forgotten unused bits! It will certainly make you feel less invisible, a common ailment amongst us older generation.
Generally, the older student has a better sense of humour, certainly the ability to laugh at themselves. And, have little left to prove (except to themselves) as ego rarely gets in the way.

So, get out there and have a go! The truth is, it doesn’t matter what Martial Art you do, just have a go at something. Find what suits you, get on the road and experience the journey. You’re never too old to enjoy the smell of roses.
The martial arts really is a wonderful activity for the older person and, with the right instructor that has a sympathetic understanding of the needs of the older student (without patronising them) it can be a positive life changing experience, as the benefits of learning a Martial Art are immeasurable.

If the (UK) government figures are correct, there will be far more of us ‘grey generation’ in years to come. Perhaps now it’s time to start changing the way we attract and teach our martial activities.

After the awards and medals of youth, comes the badges of grey hair and creaking joints and an awful lot of experience, so don’t write the oldies off, embrace them.
As for me; it has been a question of adjustment and adaptation to getting older. Recognising my limitations, without letting them get (too much) in the way, which is countered by the fact I’m still able to learn. Understanding that when something becomes too difficult or painful to do you change or adapt it, and in that way you are making it your own.

In the meantime, I have 2 banjacksed knees and a very doggy hip, so I no longer run 10 or any other number of miles in the morning, or any other time of day for that matter, and when I’m demonstrating a tumble or break fall I usually ask for assistance to stand up afterwards. I’m far more ‘genteel’ in the way I get out of (and into) bed, but I still train and teach and my enthusiasm is as good as a man half my age. I enjoy good malt, with just a little ice and definitely no mixer or guilt. So cheers!

I do have to remind myself that, as an older person I really do have a wealth of experience; the only problem being however, I’m getting a bit old to do a lot with it. A definite case of youth being wasted on the young. Ah, what can I tell ya!

Niall P. Grange
October 2013

A great lesson here, again with the perseverance and indomitable spirit.

Martial Arts Diary

It’s taken me weeks but tonight I actually did it.  I started with my new Tang Soo Do class and it is without doubt one of the best classes I’ve been to in years.

Just before Christmas my regular class at the Dojang next door was pulled due to declining numbers which was such a blow.  I can’t train the same evenings as my husband because one of us needs to be able to look after the boys while the other one goes to class.  We do family class together at the weekend but dropping down to one lesson a week really knocked me off course.

I seriously considered leaving it there but I couldn’t do that and be a bad example to the children so I found out that one of the guys who used to fill in for family class had started to run classes in the other…

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A great example to all martial artists, demonstrating Nicola’s adherence to the tenets of taekwondo; modesty, etiquette, perseverance, self control, indomitable spirit.