Fight bullying with confidence and assertiveness

Grassroots Tehachapi


June 9, 2018

Josh Crisalli

Professor Anderson of Force 5 Training Center, teaches local kids basic self-defense moves in his Anti-Bullying Workshop

Bullying can impact anyone. While school-aged bullies may be the most recognizable, the same intimidation, anger and violence can be found in the workplace, social gatherings and online.

I know I experienced my share of bullying in school. More discouraging than that is recognizing the same intimidation patterns in "grown-ups" today. Thankfully, there are people in Tehachapi working to teach our locals kids how to maturely build defenses against these bullies.

Force 5 Training Center recently held an anti-bullying workshop for kids. Owner Bob Anderson, known as Professor Anderson by his students, has taught similar workshops for years in schools, his own studios, scout groups, etc. He shared with me his four-step strategy plan to defend against school-age and grown bullies. Here's a very brief overview:

Strategy No. 1: "Physical and Verbal Barrier" – Bullies gain power using mental control. Anderson said they don't really want to fight, but to counter their own insecurities, they like to feel powerful over others. This strategy helps teach students to be assertive, to use their voice to stand up for themselves and back away from the situation. If a bully can recognize that you are brave, strong and able to stand up for yourself, they tend to leave you alone and seek a weaker target. Anderson said this strategy alone will defend against 90 percent of bullies.

"A bully is a coward who has lost control in their own life," Anderson said. "They find gratification bullying someone else."

Strategy No. 2: "I Want Strategy" – Don't give the bully a say. Make it clear what you want with phrases like, "I want you to go away" or "I want you to leave me alone." Repeat these phrases over and over if necessary and don't give them a chance to argue.

Strategy No. 3: "Defensive Tag" – Anderson said, kids are great at playing tag, but when bullied lots of kids tend to freeze up. Don't. Keep moving and move to a safe zone.

Strategy No. 4: "Defend Yourself" – Violence should always be the last resort, but Anderson feels it is important to give children basic self-defense tools. He teaches various moves to block punches and attacks.

What I like the most about his method is the universal importance of stage one. It is something that can benefit everyone, even without the plague and fear of a personal bully. Assertiveness training can help in school and work performance, communication and I believe can even help build compassion or at least more understanding for those who mistreat others.

"I was bullied as a kid. I was tall and skinny for my age ... made a great target. And this behavior doesn't stop at school," he said. "It's important for people to learn to be assertive and stand up for themselves."

Whether your bully is in your face, online or an individual neglecting others through an abuse of power, understanding their insecurities and misdirection better equips you to handle the stress and correct the situation.

Tehachapi Martial Arts Center is another location in town helping kids protect themselves against bullies. They hold an annual session every March that teaches kids three methods of defense against bullies -- prevention, self-defense and ground defense (meaning if you've already been knocked down, how to protect yourself.

Again, violence is never the answer. Confidence and knowledge goes much further.

"Through martial arts we don't teach violence, but rather how to prevent it," Ivan Jadric said. "We teach how to fight so you never have to."

I love this mentality. There's too much violence in this world already. Having the skills to defend yourself and others is so important, but having the knowledge and artistry to make things better without a hint of violence is a lesson that needs to be revisited today.

Do you know an inspirational group, individual or program that should be featured in an upcoming Grassroots Tehachapi? Email me at

See you next time!


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