Martial arts align with research in coaching kids through bullying

Special Reports

Looking into class at Triangle Academy Jiu-Jitsu, in Franklin, you’re given a window into Clay Mayfield’s vision. Part of it is empowerment.  

“Can you show us how you introduce yourself to someone,” asks Mayfield, before a class of a dozen students.   

It’s about building confidence while teaching children a martial art. Mayfield is a Jiu-Jitsu instructor with 10 years of experience.  

“He makes sure all the kids know each other, and asks them questions and involves everybody,” Lisa Huntzinger says, her son and daughter are students.   

Inside, with moms and dads watching, kids ages five to nine learn Jiu Jitsu. They fight, grapple and pin each other. As it happens, there’s also an underlying message of ‘bully safe’ education.  

“The most important thing that’s happening in the classes is that the children are becoming more confident and capable people,” Mayfield says.   

It’s those critical steps, that form the right recipe. A strategy to tackle bullying.   

“You can’t tell a child to stand up tall and look someone in the eyes when they’re scared to death of what might happen if they stand up to someone,” says Mayfield.   

 What he teaches is right in line with what professionals preach.  

“It’s a wonderful foundation for resiliency,” explains April McFarland.   

Mcfarland is one of them. She’s a school counselor with years of experience helping parents coach their kids, and themselves. She says the work must start before the bully.   

“It’s instilling in them, positive social relationships,” says McFarland.   

Each child has to be built up before a bully can break them down.  

“That’s what most of the strategy should focus on, is empowering the victim to be resilient,” McFarland says.   

Bullying is radically complex.  The evolution of cyber-bullying is a huge reason for that. But an emotionally adaptable child with self-confidence can better face any abuse or insult.    

“So that when they do hear those things, they know that’s not their identity,” says McFarland. “They have identity in something else that’s positive.”  

Activities in art or music, possibly sports or faith, are good ways a child can build an identity. If your child comes to an adult, the parent must hear them out.  

Encouraging kindness toward a bully or avoiding them altogether are important tools. If none of that works, Mcfarland says, kill them with silence. Ignore the bully in hopes of removing their ammunition.  

At Triangle Academy, Mayfield’s students learn teamwork and compassion in an educational and fun setting, free from judgment. It’s designed to make them surer of themselves, less vulnerable and resilient.   

“They have confidence and tools to safely handle the situation without getting beaten up, and without hurting someone else,” Mayfield says.  

For additional information on Triangle Academy Jiu Jitsu, visit: or call 615-870-4430.   

For information on bullying prevention, and how to build resilience in children, visit: or click here

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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