COLUMBIA WATERFRONT DISTRICT — Make eye contact. Walk with confidence. Repeat the words, “That's not my name.”
These are the pillars of anti-bullying as taught by Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a Columbia Street dojo that teaches children how to defend themselves against bullies in its “Bully Buster” classes.
“Kids and adults have been bullied for years,” said Josh Skyer, head instructor and owner of the dojo at 157 Columbia St. “The effects of bullying can be lifelong,” he said.
Skyer, along with his team of instructors, teach adult and children’s classes for 3- to 12-year-olds, in which they focus on anti-bullying techniques and also host workshops that specifically tackle bullying.
Through “Shotokan karate” — a Japanese form of martial arts — the dojo teaches basic self-defense like punches, kicks and keeping distance from an attacker, said Skyer, adding that the training keeps children in shape, warding off bullies who often target overweight or sedentary kids.
But physical defense should be a child’s last resort, he said.
Skyer also talks to his students about confidence, posture, making eye contact, personal space and using words to defend themselves against bullies.
Adults are kept involved in the class, said Skyer, who often facilitates talks between parents and children about bullying — a tricky topic for some.
“We want to teach them how to get themselves out of trouble,” he said.
In his experience, Skyer has found that the more children know about self-defense, “the less they become a target for bullying.”
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