In his book entitled “The Strong Sensitive Boy”, Dr. Ted Zeff encourages self-defense training for Highly Sensitive Boys. Dr. Ted states that HSB’s are more prone to bullying than less-sensitive children, and therefore the need to be able to defend themselves. It is a very empowering feeling for males and females alike to be able to defend one’s self, and will increase a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence. So what’s the best way to go about providing self-defense training for Highly Sensitive Children? The traditional approach many families take is enrolling children in formal Martial Arts training, which can be an excellent choice if the school truly includes regular self-defense training in their curriculum. Let’s cut to the chase….when we are speaking of self-defense, that means learning how to defend against grabs, holds, chokes, strikes, and being taken to the ground. Teach a child how to defend against those attacks, and they will walk with confidence.
Here are a few options to get self-defense training:
• Take a self-defense class at a local Martial Arts studio or YMCA: this option serves as both an immediate skill and confidence builder, while providing a great introduction to the studio, their staff, and teaching abilities. A class open to the community may last several hours, and of course provide the studio with the opportunity to showcase their operation and services (win/win). This is the quickest, most effective method I know for children to learn self-defense skills, including “verbal judo”. One recommendation I have for self defense seminars in the Greater Phoenix area is Goshin Karate & Judo Academy. Our son Blake took a Goshin self-defense class several years back, liking it so much he began formal training at the family-oriented dojo!
• Enroll in formal Martial Arts (MA) training: as mentioned in a prior blog on the topic of Exercise, the benefits of MA training are plentiful for the HSC (and HSP alike). Beyond learning basic self-defense, a student of MA can anticipate a good workout, camaraderie, and enhanced and prolonged focus which will be of benefit back at school. As Dr. Ted notes, regular MA training may be overstimulating for sensitive kids, but if you or your child are committed to enrolling, I encourage you to shop around before choosing a school that feels right. Involve your child in the selection process, to include a trial class if offered, and let the instructors know that your child is an HSC. Be prepared to describe what that means, and how your child functions best…..keep in mind that you are the customer!
• Create a home course: Parents or guardians willing to put in a little effort can teach self-defense techniques to your HSC at home. If you already have these skills yourself, then great! I would encourage you to get on the child’s level height-wise if working with a younger and/or shorter child. A great self-defense resource manual is “Complete Krav Maga: The Ultimate Guide to Over 200 Self-Defense and Combative Techniques”. Krav Maga (meaning “contact combat” in Hebrew) is an Israeli self-defense system that can be learned in the fraction of time it takes to learn a traditional martial art. Krav Maga is taught to our military and law enforcement, and is based on natural body movement and reaction in adrenalized states. Many Krav studios are designed for adults, given the intense level of training and inclusion of gun/knife/stick defense. You can inquire about Krav Maga self-defense seminars for children. By the way, Krav is an amazing workout, which I know firsthand having participated in classes for 1.5 years. You may care to take up Krav or other self-defense classes yourself, then teach your HSCs how to defend themselves!
So there you have it……a few solid ideas on how to provide self-defense training for children.
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Joe Capriotti – “Coaching to Thrive through Sensitivity”