Under: Self-defense
4 Mar 2009


I was thinking about boys and girls in today’s society taking on responsibility and becoming Men and Women. I have an idea of what a man or woman is but I’m not all that sure my definition is universal. My wife and I watch TV shows such as Judge Judy and are amazed by the childish behavior some so called adults do to each other! Well I will not attempt to discuss all of the definitions of what it means to be a man or woman but focus on the rites of passage from a self-defense point of view.


When I was a boy I had a good example of what a man was by watching my dad. He was a marine and took his responsibilities seriously so that early in life – I learned that one was supposed to work hard and not shy away from adversity. My guess is each child learns important lessons from one’s parents and society at large. What I’ve never understood is why self-defense and standing up for one’s self is not understood by all. I will expore one Iesson that I think every boy and girl should learn before they become an adult. Here is the introduction from the TV series, “Kung Fu” that shows Kwai Chang Cane’s rite of passage into manhood.




I guess boys and girls today are happy that they do not have do dodge spears to become an adult! Kwai Chang Cane in the series was always learning important life lessons so by the time he snatched the pebble, he could draw on his experiences to figure out adversity in life.


One of the basic lessons in life that children should learn is how to stand up to adversity. In life there are those that will act disrespectfully to you and no one will stand up for you – you will have to first respect your self worth and then let the bully know you won’t put up with bad behavior.


Now bullies are not the only way you or your children will have to cope but in every day activities like people that want to take advantage of your good nature. In extreme examples kidnappers will try and assert authority over children. Hopefully the children’s parents have warned them and told them what to do.


When does a boy or girl become a man or woman in my book? When that can handle their own affairs by asserting themselves. Simply put – the boy or girl has to take responsibility for themself and make sometimes difficult decisions. That includes self-defense!


Often times a boy or girl that has never considered self-defense will freeze up when the time comes. A bad kid will steal another kid’s lunch money… the theif is bad and the victim has not learned how to stick up for themselves. 


What about fear? Yes fear is a very real concern for kids and many adults. One way to overcome fear is to face it. Yes learning how to fight by taking some karate, boxing, judo, jiu-jitsu or whatever is a good plan. Parents think of it like this – your kid is your most important resource and society’s only hope of for the future. Why not expose your child to some self-defense training so if they ever have to face a life or death decision – they will not freeze up?


Old cultures had their various rites of passage for boys and girls. These rituals put the boys and girls in adversarial situations so at the end of of the ceremony – the children believed they could face whatever life dealt them.


Today parents try to prepare the children for the skills they need to succeed by enrolling them into school and giving them sage advice. I just think that some self-defense training should also be par of the course so your child will have the best chance to survive if the worst ever happens.


So in closing, I don’t really suggest a vision quest of sorts, but rather patient parental advice and console that should include some self-defense training!


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5 Responses to “What Does It Mean To Be a Man or Woman? Rites of Passage!”

  1. Cheri Arbuckle Says:

    Hi –

    I’ve been reading your blog for several months now and have really enjoyed it.

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Self-defense basics should be part of our kids’ schooling. Since the schools don’t teach it, we, the parents, need to fill that educational gap, the same way we (ideally) teach our kids how to cook dinner and handle a checkbook.

    The problem with this, though, is most parents have never learned self-defense themselves, which makes it difficult for them to even *know* that they need to teach this. So we come to this question: how do we educate parents so they can educate their children?

    I agree that enrolling your child in martial arts is a good first step. Particularly if you can find a school that offers RedMan or other full-contact defense courses. It would be nice if martial arts schools could reach out to educate parents, as well as students.

  2. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Cheri,
    Thanks for stopping by – Yes it is a tough thing to start something new, but not knowing where to go. I’ve always found it is not the style or even type of martial art but rather finding a good fit or feel at the school. Sometimes that might take a few tries.
    You are preaching to the choir with me… as you know from reading – I think everyone should have some self-defense training at a minimum.
    I added your site to my blog roll and I like how you examine issues in your posts.
    Kind regards,

  3. Michele Says:

    Thought provoking post.

    I have a nine year old daughter who gets picked on in school. I have coached her to stand up for herself by using words first. We have taught her basic school yard self-defense (grabs, push). However, she is afraid of getting in trouble at school so she tends not to stand up for herself. My husband and I told her not to worry about getting in trouble because if she is defending herself (verbally/physically) we would support her.

  4. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Michele,
    That sounds like you are doing the right thing. I taught my son how to use distance and he was just able to step back out of the way and counter in his first fight.
    Many times parents issues are with the school administrators. I’ve written a couple of posts about this that you might find interesting:
    I think that parents that try to help their kids work through these issues and are vocal as needed with the teachers and administrators are doing the right thing. Our children are our legacy in this world.
    By the way – I’ve added a link to your blog.
    Kind regards,

  5. Sly Says:

    I wish I could have had training as a child, it may have spared me some very bad moments in my life. Thank goodness, I managed to survive and am alive to talk about it. I am all for children learning how to defend themselves.