I was bullied as a child – especially after my parents moved more than a thousand miles away from where I grew up. Being the new kid in school is often a challenge for children. I used humor to try to find both acceptance and safety, but it didn’t work as well as I had hoped.
I was small in size and the older boys found me an easy target. They made fun of me, pushed me, pulled me, threw me and pinned me to the ground. It was painful and embarrassing.
So, what’s a bullied boy to do?
My parents sent me to a local YMCA when I was 12-years-old. They hoped getting some strength training would help me. Working out with weights didn’t help much, but something else did.
I saw some children about my size throwing larger kids and adults to the ground with ease. Judo was my introduction to self defense training. I signed up for the class and fell in love with martial arts. The instructor also taught Aikido and Karate, so I studied those as well.
An interesting thing happened almost immediately after I started learning Judo. The bullying at school and in my neighborhood stopped. I hadn’t told anyone I was in a Judo class, so why didn’t the bullying continue? I think it may have had something to do with the newfound confidence I had to defend myself against a bully. I didn’t talk about it. I didn’t show anyone what I was learning. But I was confident in defending myself.
I eventually had the opportunity to do some teaching and discovered that I enjoyed helping others learn how to deal with bullies. I still have that passion to help people more than 50 years later. It has been a wonderful privilege to be a self defense and martial arts instructor and see so many children, teens and adults gain confidence physically, mentally and spiritually.
It’s also a joy to see people I’ve taught teach others with a passion to make a difference in their part of the world.
What is your passion? It may come from an unexpected place – like mine did from being bullied. Be open to what God can do through your tough experiences. He may show you a wonderful opportunity to help others be “saved and safe”.
“When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.’ So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, ‘Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, ‘Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.’ Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” Genesis 50:15-21
Joseph went through a tough time in Egypt because of his brothers’ mean-spirited bullying, but Joseph trusted God and learned that the Lord had a high purpose for what he went through.
[Sensei McGee is a 7th Degree Black Belt and teaches both armed and unarmed self defense.]
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