Yep, I had the most interesting first lesson in self defense ever this weekend. I told a kid not to take the lesson. It was one of the most difficult and awesome intro classes ever!
Here’s the story:
I was at a students house hanging out (yes, I basically only associate with people I train with, or dog people!). Out of the 8 people there, only one didn’t train. He was a teenager. Kinda wanted to but was really nervous. Thing was EVERYONE was in his face about it; “come on, you have to wrestle”, etc.
Real grade school peer pressure stuff. The kid was super uncomfortable. He was trying to figure out which was less uncomfortable; wrestling when you don’t really want to, or being made fun of by friends.
Well, I take the kid off to the side for what everyone assumed was a “get out here” pep talk and I tell the kid:
First part of self defense is target selection. Weakness draws aggression. Caving in to peer pressure is a huge public display of weakness. It means avoiding awkwardness is more important than you making your own decisions.
I tell the kid, ‘never let anyone push you around’, physically or mentally. That he should think about it clearly, and if he chooses to train I would be glad to make it a great experience. BUT, if he didn’t want to then he shouldn’t let anyone make him.
Being strong is having the strength to stand up for yourself. Even when that’s just having the courage to stay seated.
He said he understood.
And for the next two hours, that kid took a rash of shit. I mean, real Mickey Mouse teasing. “what are you scared”, chicken sounds, even physical touches. Getting pushed, poked, the whole 9.
And the kid was really uncomfortable at first.
But every time it happened, he would look at me and I would nod like “you’re ok”, “you can do this”, and he would gulp and stand his ground. And it got easier, and easier as the day went on until, as is always the case, they stopped.
That kid could not have been more proud of himself.
That was probably the first time he ever stood his ground.
That was his first Jiu-Jitsu lesson.
Hopefully, I made him comfortable enough, that he might actually decide to train.
But, honestly…… That one lesson may shape him more than any “armbar” ever could have.
Sometimes, the best teaching is off the mat.