As the new school year begins, and in some cases has already begun, it’s important to re-visit the continuing problem of bullying. Despite the fact I’m a Martial Artist who usually preaches to my younger students that the best fight is the one not fought, there’s a time when fighting may be necessary. In the case of the seven-year old who twice tried to kill himself because of bullying, he feels helpless and hopeless. A second such case involved a young girl who was being constantly bullied in addition to being abused. She tried to take her life in the 5th grade. In a perfect world all disputes would be handled in a calm, thoughtful, and judicious manner. But we do not live in a perfect world. There are bullies and other difficult challenges as our children grow up and face the world we tried to hide them from. This seven-year old boy and ten-year old girl should be enrolled in the best Martial Arts school their parents or guardians can find. It will give them confidence and will actually teach them to defend themselves. They won’t need to think about suicide because they will be in control. Both of my sons were taking Martial Arts from the age of four. My wife and I wanted them to feel secure and unthreatened by an ever more threatening world; and I don’t mean just physically threatening. The world is a big place to children. Some are better able to adjust than others. Add the fear of going to school and it can, and does push children over the edge. One thing for sure, when a bully is confronted, he will generally back down. If not, once defeated in a physical conflict, the bully will get the message. I don’t often tell personal stories but I feel it’s important in this case. A bully in my children’s school was clearly threatening to some of the other kids. Teachers and parents were involved, to no avail. One day while watching the kids play in the gym after school this young man tripped a little girl. She fell on her face and blood was pouring out of her nose. I had seen enough. I approached the boy, my wife begging me not to do anything but of course I didn’t listen. No one else did anything despite the fact I could not have been the only one who saw what had transpired. I approached him with a smile on my face and with that same smile explained to him that if he ever did anything like that again, he would have to deal with me and if it came to that, he wasn’t going to be happy. He got the message loud and clear as tears welled up in his eyes. For lack of a better phrase, I put the fear of god in him. I was the bully in this scenario and he understood what it felt to be helpless. He never did anything like that again in my presence and in fact turned out to be a pleasant young man. I tell this story because bullies, often only understand bullying. This can not be solved any other way unless the child is thrown out of the school permanently and banned from school property. That rarely happens. Although we want to protect our children, we must give them the tools to protect themselves. I don’t condone violence, but to my way of thinking, there is no clearer case of self-defense than standing up to an abusive bully.