Not All Bullies Are Created Equal

I used to train Brazilian jiu-jitsu with a guy who had a reputation for being a little bit wild on the mats, to the point where his actions were sometimes injurious to his training partners. Most of the time, when we sparred together, I would play defense in an attempt to at least stay safe throughout the round. In hindsight, it was a stupid game wherein I would challenge myself to see if I could survive the round without injury, if I could weather the storm and come out unscathed by the chaos. I knew that I was playing with fire, but I let my ego get the best of me and I continued on.

One night, I got paired up with him and before we started sparring he started shoving me in the chest and taunting me. I told him repeatedly to stop, but he would not. Finally, he put his hand on my chest again, I covered it with one hand and swung my other arm through, driving his face into the mat with a hapkido-style winding wrist lock. He yelled in pain and shouted, “You could have broken my arm!” “I know,” I exclaimed. “What is your problem,” I asked. Then, to my great shock, he started laughing and said, “That was awesome!”

This is the problem with many bully prevention strategies and tactics. Not all bullies are the same. While it is true that a lot of bullies will stop once confronted, there are also other types of bullies who thrive on the confrontation itself. These people find a weakness in a person and attack that weakness over and over until, incapable of taking the abuse any longer, the person snaps. This only gives the bully more satisfaction because now the victim is down in the muck with the bully, having lost a piece of his or her own humanity in the process. As the saying goes, misery loves company, if misery can love anything at all.

 Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

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