Under: Self-defense
5 Sep 2010

26 Responses to “Self Defense in Schools? California Bill to Governator!”

  1. Adam @ Low Tech Combat Says:

    I most definately think martial arts/self defence should be taught at schools. The benefits speak for themsleves. And I think a Martial Art approach rather than just self defence aproach would be much more productive. Side benefits of the martial arts such as instilling modesty, quiet confidence, respect, manners and honour are all things that are sadly very much missing from much of the youth today.

  2. T.J. Says:

    Great to see a government official take self-defense seriously!

    I teach self-defense in high schools here in Canada.


  3. John Nottingham Says:

    I’m glad to see self defense being taught in schools. My only concern is the government mandating or getting involved in the process. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I also really enjoyed your blog article on adrenaline. -jn
    John Nottingham recently posted..One Size Does Not Fit All for TrainingMy Profile

  4. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hey Adam!

    I tend to agree that teaching a martial art would be beneficial. Do you know of any school districts doing that? I’m hoping that self defense can happen as it would be great to give everyone exposure for some strategy and moves if they need them.

    Hi T.J.!

    Thanks for your comment… great to hear from instructors on this issue.

    Hello John Nottingham!

    Agreed on mandates… like everything else in government one would have the weigh the cost versus the benefits. I’d be happy to see any kind of self defense instruction because so many people do not understand any personal defense strategy.

    Thanks for your insight!

  5. Matt Klein Says:

    Sorry John, but I’m going to disagree with you on this one. Am familiar with this issue as I have taught in the schools here in Australia. If you give away something for free it devalues it. Children who come to a proper dojo to learn are there because they want to be there—their parents pay because it is something of great importance to them. In my experience, particularly at the high school level, many of them hate physical ed, and will goof off a good part of the class. How will you enforce discipline at the school? You can’t sit them out, because many of them want that anyway. You can’t make them do push ups, because that is considered corporal punishment in many states, and besides, it’s not good practice anyway as it teaches kids to hate exercise. How do you keep bullies from learning with the rest of the class? At least in the dojo we can weed them out.

    From a business owner’s standpoint, why would a master black belt with many years of experience invested want to go into a school and make peanuts? Very few of the students actually convert to members of our schools, so what motivation is there for the best instructors to participate in this? I stopped doing it for all the above reasons, and have never looked back.

    Why add another layer of bureaucracy on to a state that is financially in the red? I don’t see the wisdom in that either? Who is going to pay for this? Why put the state in the martial arts business? Leave it to the experts who can make sure something this important can be done right.
    Matt Klein recently posted..Martial Arts Classes- 79 Reasons Why Kids Love ThemMy Profile

  6. Adam @ Low Tech Combat Says:

    Hi John, no I do not know of any districts ding it I am sorry.

    @Matt, you raise some excellent points and you know what? I never thought of that before. I can see some kids would just upset the whole class environment. Perhaps the solution would be to make the subject an elective subject so only students that WANT to be there are there. I am sure if students in school are given the option, some would take it up who otherwise would not make the effort to go to a traditional dojo or dojang. I still think that in itself could reach out to some kids and make a positive impact on their lives when they are at an nfluential age.

  7. Chris | Martial Development Says:

    It has been said that, by the time “martial arts” skills are deployed, one’s self-defense skills must have already failed. And I generally agree with that. PE is a small part of real self-defense, and it would be a shame if that point was obscured by the best of intentions, to get kids into some enjoyable and/or practical exercise.

    Matt makes good sense too, as usual.
    Chris | Martial Development recently posted..Quiz- Can You Name This Martial ArtMy Profile

  8. Zara Says:

    I think self defense or even basic introduction to certain martial arts (judo, karate and the like can be taught safely to young children even) and should be an elective in schools PE-programs beside the usual suspects of football, basketball and the like. I know I detested most of the sports offered at my school yet if they had offered some form of martial arts or SD my grades would have been way up. You shouldn’t force it on children as many or their parents might resent violence in any form regardless of the aim of the course but for those who want to it should be available. Of course the main problems are organization and funding but decent suggestions have already been offered, one other possible pitfall I see is that it could actually increase violent and antisocial behaviour at school (you are teaching fighting skills after all and some kids just don’t have the maturity to handle this properly) so known bullies and kids with anger-management issues should be barred from attending as well as those who show behavioral changes after the first lessons. I think the classes should follow the program of women’s SD for the most part: big emphasis on avoidance, recognising warning, signs, verbal SD… taught in classroom-format AND role-playing, only after that has been mastered and the students have a sound grasp of the ethics, laws and dangers of SD should simple fighting techniques be implemented, starting with basic grabs and the like and always, always focussing on getting away asap. In true and effective SD training applied psychology (emotions, body-language, human behaviour in groups, how to tell when people are lying…), criminology (types of crimes, causes, figures, personality traits of both perpetrators and victims…) biology (human anatomy, fear, stress, fight-or-flight…) and law (what constitutes SD, excessive force, weapon laws…) come together with martial arts so you could even make them count for both ‘social sciences’ and PE. You could even include some general background/history concerning MA so those who want to pursue this further have at least a surer footing when making an informed decision and don’t fall prey to the first greedy sob trying to sell them their version of his Über-effective, ninja-killer martial art. If gone about in a thoughtful, intelligent way involving the input of all parties involved (children, parents, teachers, lawmakers, martial arts teachers, various experts on said fields including police and behavioral scientists) I think it’s a good idea that could significantly reduce certain types of crime and teach young children life-skills that’ll help them gain confidence and lead a healthy, productive life. I don’t live in California or even America but they’d certainly have my vote.

  9. Zara Says:

    Hi Matt: I think you’re letting your economic self-interest obscure your vision on the big picture here. Sure from an economic standpoint it might be a bad idea for you as a professional martial arts teacher to get involved in this (too much effort, too little profit) but if gone about in the right way this could yield many benefits including helping to raise more aware, self-confident and responsible individuals and saving lives (maybe even long after graduation), surely you’ll agree this is a worthwhile cause and human life cannot be measured in economic indicators including profit although I do realize everybody has to make money and provide for himself and his family. It’s my view SD has many aspects and should draw from many fields including martial arts: if a well-balanced program can be developed that rests on scientific principles (you could even make passing basic introduction to psychology, sociology and biology mandatory for attendance of the course as well as doing reasonably well in basic PE) and transcend the skills and knowledge of one individual or field alone, including MA. If you can pool the knowledge of behavioral scientists, police, professional educators and experienced martial artists surely you could develop a program that is sound and worth the investment. I doubt it should even cost that much: the theoretical teaching could be done by teachers already on the payroll and PE-teachers could be taught a very basic SD-system à la krav maga, modified for children of course, or something similar (it shouldn’t be too hard to teach a few simple moves to people already well versed in sports and anatomy and physiology) so there would be no need to attract expensive ‘experts’ from outside the school. Sure, in a way this is competition for local martial arts school but SD is so much more than martial arts (of course there is overlap but it’s entirely possible to study a martial art for years and learn zero practical SD-skills) and perhaps through school kids can be reached that would otherwise never have come into contact with either SD or the martial arts.

    If you make SD an elective, depending on other subjects (both PE and behavioral sciences) and select people appropriately you’ll both keep out lazy or ill-willed individuals and raise the status of the subject in the eyes of the students. If they’re not interested or they’re only there to learn fighting techniques (which they can learn just as easily through a local martial arts school btw) they can pick something else and so won’t disrupt the people eager to learn. I don’t understand your argument about things needing to cost a lot of money in order to be valuable: in life some of the best things are free and the public schooling system is there to give everybody as much education, knowledge and practical skills as possible in order to maximize happiness and prosperity for all, regardless of the income or social status of the parents. Indeed education is the prime motor for social mobility that is so valued in western societies and rightly so. Some people just don’t have the money to pay for a fancy martial arts school for their children: should these kids really be denied such a great opportunity and run an increased risk at suffering violence because they were born underprivileged?

    Surely if there’s money for extra curricular activities like the chess-club, photography, cheerleading and the like there should be money for a good SD-course (every bit as much a life-skill as learning a foreign language, cooking or fixing a car) and children’s education (the future of any country) is the last place to look for implementing budget cuts. Besides: it’s well-documented that a country’s economic well-being depends largely on the quality of its education system so that’s another good argument for increasing funding for public schools instead of decreasing it.

  10. Matt Klein Says:

    Zara, pardon me if I only scanned your “Thesis on the Theories of the Socio-economic and Behavioral Ramifications of Introducing Martial Arts Classes into Schools in California” above. I am a busy person trying to run a martial arts business. I will try to keep my arguments short. As my best high school English teacher told me, make your writing short, to the point, and real.

    First, your statement about self-interest as my motivation in writing my position on this. Probably at least 95% of my new business comes from age groups other than teens. They are just not that interested. So no one is really taking money out of my pocket with respect to this issue. Many of my peers in this business, however, are probably not excited about the prospect of competing with a new business–government funded, and paid for by the taxpayers, that is giving its products or services away for free. Would you? Is that fair to them? They have to pay their employees and taxes as well.

    We get almost all of our students much younger than the teens, when we still have a chance to impart the values of respect, self discipline, and a “self defense only” mentality. They grow up to be fine young black belts with confidence and an ability to inspire and help others. By then we have weeded out all the bullies and troublemakers, who are there for the wrong reasons. They don’t last in our system. Students are not shown the more “street effective” and hence more damaging techniques until they have proven themselves worthy. This takes years. How are you going to do this in a public school setting? You are teaching kids potentially lethal techniques at an age when their hormones make them unstable, without any underlying long term training in the respect, control, and self-discipline aspects.

    We live in a society where people expect everything to be free—music, movies, books. It’s all on the internet, just grab it. And we want it instantly. No waiting. Your professionals, the ones down at the local dojo, are the best qualified to instruct, but they are busy teaching kids who want to be there, and who are patient enough to spend years learning what the martial arts are all about. You might get free martial arts instruction, but you get what you pay for, and yes, someone has to pay for it. Ask Russia; they provided everything at government expense–until their economy collapsed.
    Matt Klein recently posted..Teaching Children Martial Arts- Exercise as PunishmentMy Profile

  11. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Matt!

    Thanks for weighing in on this… You do make a good point about the commitment level of many teens. What I envision however is teaching self defense of any kind (not necessarily karate) in the rotation with other PE classes.

    I would not be too concerned that kids learn a martial art but rather they gleaned some skills that might come in handy someday. Bullies in school tend to pick on the kids that will not stand up for themselves and one in four women will be molested in their lifetime.

    Short term self-defense classes are not my first choice but I believe they would be a great start. We may have to agree to disagree on this one Matt.

    Hey Chris!

    Excellent point about deploying self defense! Other than when I worked in the bar – I’ve been able to successfully avoid conflict… good to remember the point of learning these skills.

    Hi Zara!

    Thanks for the information! I think you are right about the women’s self-defense format. The thing I like about this is women are taught more than just kicks and punches but more how to manage potential conflicts and yes how to fight too.

    Interesting point about including it in social sciences… kind of like drivers education and also training. I like it.

  12. Dorothy Says:

    Self defense should be taught because the world is really becoming more dangerous minute by minute and as always if their is a will, their is a way. Kids should learn self defense so parents at least can be at ease when they need to come home late in the evening because of some extra things to be done in school like practicing for a play or something. I like how you’ve talked about this issue in this post of yours in great detail. Truly enlightening and informative. Great videos too.

  13. Budhido Code Says:

    I had a good friend of mine from China told me that they studied Wushu everyday for physical activity. She told me by the time she had graduated high school, she was well adept in fighting and self defense. I have a Korean friend basically said the same thing in regards to Taekwondo. Many US schools let Taco Bell and Pizza Hut feed our kids; let’s let the local martial arts dojo teach gym!
    Budhido Code recently posted..Focus in Training- Martial Arts- Fitness and SportMy Profile

  14. Dr. J Says:

    My first exposure to the martial arts was for a three month period from a man who had learned in the military in Korea.

    He stressed good values and tradition. I support martial arts training in schools if the teachers do it with traditional values.

  15. Edward Says:

    I would also want training in martial arts to be included in school… It is definitely a great idea. With the increasing rate of crimes happening around us I think it is just but necessary to train some self defense for protection in case of trouble or attack. But of course discipline or good moral character should be also included.
    Edward recently posted..Do What It Takes To Defend YourselfMy Profile

  16. Steven Says:

    Now if we could just protect them from Sacramento…lol

  17. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Thanks Dorothy!

    Hey Budhido Code! Thanks for pointing out yet another way our schools are behind Asian schools! :)

    Hi Dr J! A lot to be said for values and tradition in school. One more reinforcement with an additional benefit would be great.

    Hi Edward, Agreed! I think the crime rate might actually be going down in the US (but if something happens to you – the crime rate won’t matter) :)

    Steven! You ask too much! :)

  18. Phil Says:

    Brilliant discussion! I am a huge fan of Arnold. He is a born politician but understands more than most the importance of focus, discipline and an indomitable spirit. His biography “Fantastic” is an amazing read and really gets you inside his head. I an see why he would be recommending this as the martial arts values/benefits are closely alligned to body building. This is a great step forward…

  19. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Phil! I am also a fan of Arnold. He has stepped in at a difficult time but has done a good job as the governor of California. I just heard he signed this bill today!

    I’ve not read “Fantastic” but it is on my reading list as he is truly a man that has accomplished a lot.

  20. Matt Klein Says:

    Can see I am outgunned and outnumbered. But……remember the Spartans!
    Matt Klein recently posted..Martial Arts Training- The iPhone as a Teaching ToolMy Profile

  21. jenny Says:

    self defence is important in a person’s life to see him/her get out of unwanted trouble when needed. Karate is a mode of self defence that comes in handy when the situation demands . The website gives you wide knowledge how and when to use karate at your disposal.

    Learn Online Karate

  22. “Self Defense in Schools? California Bill to Governator!,” by John W. Zimmer Says:

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  23. Michael Says:

    good! this is how bullying could be eliminated.
    Michael recently posted..An Interview With Psychiatrist Dr Thomas SzaszMy Profile

  24. Ksenia Says:

    I agree with you a 100%. I am surprised that I haven’t heard about this bill in California. Thank you for bringing it up to my attention. Are there any similar bills in other states? Do email me or respond so I can add this information to everything else I am gathering on this topic, I would find it extremely helpful. Thanks again.

  25. Elmer Querubin Says:

    I like the idea of school taking self defense seriously. The past years have been difficult for people going to school. Take columbine and virginia tech for example!

  26. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Michael, Thanks for commenting. I agree.

    Ksenia, Not really sure about other states but if they would have some coed fighting arts training of any kind – that would be a step in the right direction. Thanks for stopping by.

    Elmer, Glad to have you stop by. Your website looks like you are of a like mind.