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.
â€œIt gives them a way to use their mind instead of their fist,â€ said Pete Nappier, co-owner.
The centerâ€™s Bully Busters Program teaches children to deal with bullies by walking away and refusing to fight.
â€œThese techniques are the least confrontational techniques, but theyâ€™ve been proven time and time again,â€ said John Santiago, co-owner.
Santiago and Nappier both say theyâ€™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 theyâ€™ve learned.
â€œItâ€™s not just two days a week in class,â€ said Nappier. â€œWe expect them to do it 24-seven.â€
Nappier tries to keep up with his students, checking report cards and sending e-mails to principals.
â€œThey know Iâ€™m going to hold them accountable,â€ said Nappier.
â€œSometimes, parents donâ€™t want to do that. They want to be nice. They want to be their buddy.â€
As for dealing with bullies, Nappier teaches his students that sticks and stones may hurt their bones, but words will never harm them.
â€œAs long as it doesnâ€™t get physical, it doesnâ€™t hurt,â€ 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.
â€œBullies have problems,â€ said Nappier. â€œTheyâ€™re upset about their home lives. Theyâ€™re upset about people picking on them.â€
Thatâ€™s why the 12 steps in the centerâ€™s Bully Busters Program include making friends and using humor.
Sometimes, however, a physical confrontation does occur.
â€œIf it does go bad, we want them to defend themselves, but defend themselves in a way that no one gets hurt,â€ said Santiago.
For more information call 704-732-2010.by Sarah Grano