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Learning to fight without fists

Most people would assume teaching a child to deal with bullies through martial arts would result in confrontation.
At Lincolnton Aikido and Fitness, however, the approach veers more towards pacifism.
“It gives them a way to use their mind instead of their fist,” said Pete Nappier, co-owner.
The center’s Bully Busters Program teaches children to deal with bullies by walking away and refusing to fight.
“These techniques are the least confrontational techniques, but they’ve been proven time and time again,” said John Santiago, co-owner.
Santiago and Nappier both say they’ve never heard of a child provoking a fight using martial arts outside of class.
Instead, they expect their students to stay on the straight and narrow and make use of what they’ve learned.
“It’s not just two days a week in class,” said Nappier. “We expect them to do it 24-seven.”
Nappier tries to keep up with his students, checking report cards and sending e-mails to principals.
“They know I’m going to hold them accountable,” said Nappier.
“Sometimes, parents don’t want to do that. They want to be nice. They want to be their buddy.”
As for dealing with bullies, Nappier teaches his students that sticks and stones may hurt their bones, but words will never harm them.
“As long as it doesn’t get physical, it doesn’t hurt,” he said.
That said, both Nappier and Santiago agree that modern children often have to deal with a lot of stress. Anything from problems with school work to divorcing parents can create a bully.
“Bullies have problems,” said Nappier. “They’re upset about their home lives. They’re upset about people picking on them.”
That’s why the 12 steps in the center’s Bully Busters Program include making friends and using humor.
Sometimes, however, a physical confrontation does occur.
“If it does go bad, we want them to defend themselves, but defend themselves in a way that no one gets hurt,” said Santiago.
For more information call 704-732-2010.by Sarah Grano

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