Wednesday 18 February 2015

The Other Sort of Brave

On a Monday night I help out at a Kiddy Krav Maga club called Junior Safe Krav Maga.

As some of you will know that isn't a pint sized version of Big Krav, it is in fact a specially tailored set of activities for young children.

We focus on anti-abduction techniques, team work, anti-bullying and overall me and the instructor Russell doing our best to get the kids to go into full attack mode, if we pick them up or grab them.

At the end of the class (which lasts about 50 minutes) we line them up kneeling on the mat facing us and we choose two children who have shown the most enthusiasm, team spirit, courage and determination. Russ chooses one and I choose the other, and we have a quick chat to make sure we're not picking the same kid and to go over the reasons for the selection. They get the coveted places next to us, (one by him, one by me) and we tell them and the other kids what they did to deserve that "honour". We then bow and shout "Kida!" and hit the mat with our fists and everyone claps before we go home.

Last week we had a handful of new kids starting. One lad was about 6 years old and very small. He was clearly having the time of his life, running around and grinning from ear to ear. During a game where me and Russ try to pick the kids up they have to lay into us as hard as they can or we won't put them down again. This lad had no fear of two tall men in sparring helmets and MMA mitts trying to repeatedly grab him and was laughing and smiling the whole way through.

He got a position at the end of class. I chose him and specifically stated that it was because he was so brave and gung ho and that, on his first lesson, he was super confident and I admired his courage.

Russell's selection was someone I had been going to choose myself. She was the other sort of brave. A very small 5 year old girl who had, for a few weeks, sat on the sides with her mum and watched the other children running around, dodging me and Russell. She was clearly scared and overawed by it all and her eyes were like saucers as she saw us hurling foam pads around, putting kids over our shoulders and making a lot of noise. Attempts to coax her into joining in were met with a mute shake of her head and when she did eventually join in an activity she quickly left again in tears. It was too much for her. All these big people making a lot of racket and knocking each other around. She was smaller than the smallest kid in the class (who also happened to be her friend) and it was very clear just how frightened she was.

This week she joined in and stayed for nearly all of the class. At the end we played a game where the kids were in two teams and had to run past me and Russell, and if stopped had to lash out with kicks and punches to make us let go. Both of us were padded up with the helmets on and this little girl was on the team I was facing. I could see the terror in her face that meant she probably wouldn't do it so suggested that her friend ran with her. This proved to be the key to it all, as she then felt safe enough to join in with both of them booting me in the groin and punching me as I tried to hold her.

She got the 2nd place next to Russell at the end before the final Kida, because as Russell said to everyone, she was scared yet carried on. The other sort of brave.

After the class I spoke to her in the corridor and she still looked a bit overawed. I crouched down in front of her and said, "I'm very proud of you. It's very difficult to be brave when you're frightened and you did that. Give me a high five."

She did, and smiled and then her mother asked me how she could stop a bigger girl at school who was pulling her hair in the playground. Me and Russ demonstrated the technique and when I got her to do it she punched me as hard as she could. We all laughed and noted that the next time that older girl bullies her, will probably be the last one.

It's things like this that make doing this completely worthwhile.

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