When taekwondo becomes a bully’s weapon of choice
Right before we at Rappler broke the news about the Ateneo junior high student’s bullying caught on video, we had to look for the series of videos in question.
The first video that surfaced was outdoors: a smaller boy in black shorts versus a taller one in Ateneo High khakis. They were both in fighting stance.
Of course, Facebook’s autoplay defaults to audio off. With the video on mute, one could easily dismiss it as a study sparring session between two martial arts students.
The shorter boy was the first to kick, and his moves were undeniably that of a taekwondo jin. The moves were all too familiar – a solid 45-degree kick into the taller boy’s solar plexus, then a series of bullet kicks. The shorter boy was clearly an advanced belter – a low red at the least, a junior black at the most.
But what came next was alarming.
The bullet kicks were punctuated with a punch. In taekwondo, you only let your feet do the work. No punches, only forearm blocks. The taller boy motioned to stop, but the shorter boy was unrelenting. He delivered another swiftly executed 45-degree kick, and then proceeded to pummel his opponent with a flurry of punches.
And then, he said something chilling.
Power, responsibility, and humility
I couldn’t sleep the night when I watched the videos of the boy. I couldn’t think straight the day after. To say that I was distraught is an understatement.
In high school, I turned to taekwondo to cope with the bullying I encountered. Today, 20 years later, it would become a bully’s weapon of choice.
In taekwondo I was taught not be an aggressor, but a protector.
All the sordid memories from high school came back. I talked to a loved one about it, which led to the realization that my penchant for quiet corners was due to my experience.
I first took up taekwondo in 1998, when I was a chubby, dorky high school student struggling to get by with constant bullying from older peers. I was a 12 year-old anime geek twice accelerated, and my classmates were 15-16 year-olds swooning over Leonardo di Caprio.
The first few weeks were suddenly emboldening – downward blocks, upper blocks, 45-degree kicks, and side kicks were among the first moves taught to us.
You know what they say about a little knowledge being a dangerous thing?
Every night, I imagined the scenarios in my head – delivering a series of kicks to the loud, crass girls in my class to shut them up, using an upper block to dislocate the jaws of those who would badger me to do their homework. I comforted myself with the thought that someday, I would be able to fight them back.
But the desire for vengeance dissipated as my focus shifted to improving form and technique. As I went up the belts and eventually dabbled into other forms of martial arts, the knowledge shared with me by coaches, as well as the hours of training, taught temperance and restraint.
Every martial arts practitioner I’ve had the privilege of training with and learning from has indoctrinated in us that we should never strike first outside the mat unless our lives are threatened, or when someone is being harassed.
I have personally fought back 4 times in my life – the first when a friend’s wedding guest tried to take advantage of me at an afterparty; the second when a foreigner grabbed my butt; the third when a motorist uttered lascivious remarks when I walked by; and the fourth when a man wouldn’t stop harassing me in a bar while watching a gig.
Everything I know and am capable of is a form of last resort. – Rappler.com