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Marysville's Kung Fu 4 Kids focuses on how to deal with bullies

Head children’s instructor for Kung Fu for Kids, Ralph Bartolome watches the kicking technique of student Tara Darrow, 10. -
Head children’s instructor for Kung Fu for Kids, Ralph Bartolome watches the kicking technique of student Tara Darrow, 10.
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MARYSVILLE — Now 35 and the owner of a martial arts school, Carlton Doup admits when he was younger, he was the target of plenty of bullying because his feet turned in noticeably.

Oct. 5-11 is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Week and Doup said the obvious physical difference in his feet was a perfect example of something bullies latch on to in order to make their victims feel small or bad about themselves.

“I can definitely relate to kids when they say they are being picked on,” Doup said and how to deal with bullies is a major focus of the classes he teaches to youngsters at his Kung Fu Northwest martial arts school on Cedar Avenue.

According to Doup, there are several key techniques to use when dealing with bullies. He emphasized numerous times that physical force should be an absolute last resort and then only used defensively.

“If you have to kick or punch them, it should be the very last thing you do,” Ralph Bartolome, an instructor for Doup, told the dozen or so youngsters in one of his recent classes. Bartolome also asked his students what they should do after using physical force on a bully.

The correct answer was to tell a teacher or some other adult.

“You still might get in a little trouble but lying is worse,” Bartolome said.

Instead of resorting to physicality, Doup said to value the differences bullies often zero in on.

“You can defuse the taunts by the bully,” Doup said. For instance, he added, just state that, yes, indeed, you do have a mole on your cheek. Then walk away.

Both Doup and Bartolome said bullies want their victims to feel helpless and need to know you feel helpless.

“The more you respond, the more they are encouraged to continue to bully,” Doup said. He advised rehearsing situations when you might be bullied and practice deep (but subtle) breathing that will help calm your nerves and stop you from crying or showing that you are upset. Then, again, just walk away, possibly accompanied by a little laugh or a simple line, such as “Does that make you feel better to treat me like that?”

A final tactic might be to stay with a group of other kids or near a teacher or adult. Bullies are far more likely to target kids who are alone or unprotected.

One of Bartolome’s students, Tristan (we’ll leave off his last name) said Doup’s ideas really can work.

“They're pretty good,” he said.

Tristan used to get picked on because of his last name that sounds vaguely like a common food. At least once, the taunting became violent and Tristan was almost kicked in the head.

Trying to just walk away is the best first step in Tristan’s opinion, but he isn’t afraid or ashamed to tell a teacher or adult what is going on. He hasn’t been in martial arts classes too long, but he used a physical technique on a bully once, he said, insisting it was only defensive.

Doup said kids and parents have to keep in mind that while most bullying situations can be defused, sometimes the victim is going to get punched in the nose no matter what he or she does. He also said neither children nor adults need to be Bruce Lee in order to use some basic martial arts techniques if force becomes necessary.

“I truly believe 90 percent of protecting yourself is having the confidence to believe you can,” Doup said, whether protecting yourself means blocking a punch or simply, calmly, walking away.

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