Control & Apologetic Word Blocks To Defend Bullying (By Josh)

Week Five – Control & Apologetic Word Blocks To Defend Bullying At Community Day School

Week five of martial arts classes and anti-bully strategies at Community Day School in Squirrel Hill has passed (and October is here)! Last week was a great week of training as we introduced single stick conditioning to the students. Stick training is an essential block of curriculum in the Counterpoint Tactical System because you learn elements that are applicable to self-defense situations such as; targeting, power generation, range, and timing. In addition, through stick conditioning your arms and upper body become faster and stronger; your joints and connective tissue become more flexible and resilient. The conditioning that you develop with a stick in your hand cannot be replicated as effectively through any other method. However one of the most important lessons we taught in week five is control. I correlated the idea of controlling the stick in our hand to being able to control our body language, our emotions, our attitude, our tone of voice; all of which helps us control a situation with a potential bully!

Along with stick conditioning, we introduced verbal deflectors otherwise known as word blocks. Word blocks are a great technique to teach children to defend against verbal bullying. In most cases, parents tell their children to ignore verbal attacks or they advise their child to tell a teacher. Though this is great initial advice, if the verbal attacks continue we need to educate our children to stand-up to the bully and respond, not react with anger, sadness, or embarrassment. Just like practicing physical blocks, I coach my students to develop verbal blocks to defend against a verbal attack. With practice, students develop strength with their responses and are able to clearly and confidently look at a bully and tell them to stop.

The word block I taught was the Apologetic Word Block. Because the students were just returning from Yom Kippur I thought it would be an appropriate time as the holiday is about atonement and repentance. The Apologetic Word Block is made up of three parts; the genuine apology, the reason why, and an action step. For example let’s say Billy is being harassed by John for the way he dressed. Billy might say, “I’m sorry you feel that way John. I really like the clothes I’m wearing and as matter of fact I saw some of your friends wearing a similar thing. You should tell them what you told me and see what they think.” This directly engages the harassment with a clear, calm response and ties in something the bully might care about, his friends, and make him reconsider. The neat thing about the Apologetic Word Block is that it can also be used to apologize to parents, teachers, and friends. As with many of my lessons at both Ryer Academy and Community Day School; it’s about life-skill training not just martial arts or anti-bully training. Hopefully with time and continued progress these students will come to understand this!

Continue to follow our progress by visiting the Ryer Academy Lounge at!

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