The “Home Alone” movies taught us that kids can outsmart some not so savvy criminals but never implied they were physically strong enough to fight the attackers. Here is the simple truth: it is extremely unlikely a child could fight off an adult, even with years of martial arts training.
A child is a soft and easy target. Most primary school children would be hard pressed to fight off an adult attacker, especially an angry or determined abuser or abductor.
This does not mean that a good hard front kick to the shin or a poke to the eyes from a child isn’t going to be effective, but it is not nearly as effective as it is often conveyed. At COBRA, we believe it is better to teach preparedness and understanding to children, as a supplement to their physical skills.
We teach them prevention and avoidance first and foremost, but if they are faced with a fight they can not avoid, we do not give them false hope in fancy wrist bend techniques and manipulations that have a less than stellar chance of success against a grown-up with intent on doing your child harm.
Here are a few of the things we DO say when it comes to children’s self defence:
1. TRAINING KIDS IS DIFFERENT TO ADULTS
Except in the rarest of cases, children will not be able to punch, kick or grapple their way out of a fight with an adult. Let’s face it. When a small child punches or kicks you, it does not hurt to the point of incapacitation. OK, maybe groin or eyes could be effective targets, but those shots are way up high for small kids, and determined adults expecting resistance may endure moderate pain under the driving intent to beat or kidnap a child.
So true self defence training for a child cannot be about pounding a bag, slamming kicks into air shields, whipping arm locks on, or winning a trophy in a martial arts contest, no matter how “cool” some teacher or a few kids might think that looks. Real self defence needs a radically different approach than miniaturised adult combat training.
This is a sad fact, but most martial arts schools teach unrealistic techniques to children and women when it comes to actually protecting their lives. What works for a strong adult won’t work for a 7 year old.
2. KIDS OBEY ADULTS
Would you agree that most kids are not cuttingly aggressive by nature? Adults intimidate them and children are often conditioned to obey adult commands. Our program takes into account the reality that kids will be confused by adult confrontation, the fact children are very gullible, and the reality that predators are skillful manipulators. We reinforce acceptable behaviour, distance and touch from adults, and we help kids learn effective ways to avoid abduction or abuse.
3. MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING IS NOT ENOUGH
Despite the huge value of martial arts training, not many children – even advanced trainees - could actually defend themselves against adults if needed. We have a background in martial arts and jujitsu, but we are the first to admit that martial arts training does little to prepare children for an adult grip.
The COBRA team have children, and our kids participate in a range of training including jujitsu, karate and boxing. There are a lot of things our kids do very well. Sadly though, many instructors of these sports fail children by not explaining the techniques they teach are not the best things to do against an adult attacker. We see this at many of the karate schools we visit and at self defence demonstrations.
We have seen first hand that children, even those with years of training, just simply will not be able to defend themselves against a determined child predator or abusive classmates.
Of course, the strikes, dodges and takedowns that martial arts teach do work well when the schoolyard bully goes too far. But when it comes to an adult abducting or beating a child, an entirely different set of strategies, tactics and skills are needed. Our courses aim to provide the best thinking and acting responses to increase the likelihood of your child getting home happy and healthy.
4. SOME TECHNIQUES WILL WORK ON ADULTS. SOME WILL NOT.
Kids CAN successfully defend themselves against adults, but they must be given the proper explanation of which techniques to use on adults and which won’t work. The biggest message they need to hear is the effectiveness of evasion.
After that, if forced to fight, children should not stop at one hit when committing to self defence. Make multiple strikes, quick and with full intent before escaping the situation. We teach children to strike a weak point like the eyes or throat, then run, run, run and scream. We drill these strikes until they know how to strike the main targets from all angles, from several grabs and holds.
This can be confronting for some parents, but if you really want your child to know how to protect themselves in a real life encounter, they need to learn more than just punches and kicks.
5. SCREAM AND LOOK FOR UNIFORMS
Teaching children it is okay to scream for help, who to run to and what to say can really help. We try to teach children to look for someone in a uniform first, such as Police or a Security Guard. Second is someone wearing a vest. Whether if it is a cashier at Kmart or the cart employee in the Woolworths carpark. A vest is a good piece of apparel to look for to know who works there and who can be of help.
Third is an adult woman (before an adult man). Kids feel more natural and safe approaching a strange woman, more so than a strange man, and the maternal instinct of the woman can quickly help defend and help save the child.
If you need help in teaching your children realistic, quality self defence, please feel free to contact us. Because guardians need to be “guardians” in every sense of the word these days. Children are fragile and precious. So too is childhood. It is a shame how quickly kids have to grow up these days. It is a crime when trauma of any kind compromises human potential, but so much more so when senseless acts result in the scarring of innocents.
As adults, it is our responsibility to be the shepherds; to provide the inspiration, consolation, and if necessary, the protection for our youth. If you have read this far, we applaud you as a parent. Thank you for reading, and please like and share if you think this information may help someone you know.
At the end of the day, children are looking for a sense of power. It can be the illusion of thinking they can fight or it can be the real ability to escape. The children don’t care which one; they just want the feeling of accomplishment. It’s our job at adults and teachers to be mature enough to teach the one that will keep them safe.