By Polly Keary, Editor
Jeremy Molley, owner of Active Martial Arts in Monroe, might be a martial arts expert now, but when he was a kid, he was sometimes a target.
In his many years as a martial artist and then as an instructor, he learned how to handle bullies, and how to teach others to do the same.
This week, he offers a free class for kids on what to do when someone is acting mean, either physically or verbally, without resorting to violence or other aggressive behavior.
“To be honest, I was bullied as a kid and I know how it feels to be the last guy picked for football and get picked on,” said Molley.
Over the years, teaching martial arts to children, he started adding in a few techniques for how to face up to bullies. Then Molley noticed bullying seemed to get worse in recent years.
“I can’t tell you how many kids that have moved and changed schools because they are getting bullied, and they do the right thing, go talk to the principal and teachers and the kid’s parents,” he said. “And they still can’t handle it.”
So he did a lot of research and also learned what other martial arts teachers were doing, and what had been successful in schools, and put together a class.
He offered it free to the public for the first time three years ago, and it was well-received.
The kind of techniques he teaches are useful for dealing with various kinds of bullying, he said.
“We will talk about different types of bullies,” he said. “With littler kids, it’s pushing on the playground. There’s more advanced things; your friends bully you around and you think it’s okay because they are your friend, and they take your toys. As you get older, it’s on social media now, posting things on Facebook and talking in rumors. It’s not a simple subject, and there different techniques to handle each one.”
But mostly, it’s about helping kids build up their own self-esteem and teaching them how to stand up tall, look a bully in the eye and demand that the bully stop.
“I think it’s about being confident and standing up,” he said. “It’s not confrontational. We don’t teach them to beat up the bully.”
Kids who have taken the class have said good things about it, said Molley, who is certified as an instructor to teach kids with ADD/ADHD, and has appeared on multiple television shows as an expert on self defense and women’s self defense.
The class is one of four free classes he gives each year. Other classes are on topics such as child safety.
The class will take place Saturday, Oct. 27, at Active Martial Arts at 14711 Fryelands Blvd. S.E. from 1-2:30 p.m. There is room for about 50 kids to attend; call ahead at (360) 282-2600 to reserve a spot.