I have a six year old boy who has never had any formal martial arts training as of yet, although he has watched his older brother take Karate lessons and as a family we are very martial arts oriented. So, he has had much exposure to the concepts of martial arts and sometimes practices kicking bags and such. Anyway, he has developed a good sidekick mostly on his own.
Today at soccer practice there was a scuffle between my son and another kid on the team, "Jerry". Jerry is a special needs kid who has some sort of emotional difficulties and takes meds for it. I happened to over hear his mom mentioning that she'd forgotten to give him his meds this morning , and a few times Jerry had meltdowns and had to be carried bodily off the field by the coach for time outs. Anyway, I hadn't explained Jerry much to my son prior to today because I have only just been finding out about Jerry's condition myself. At some point, Jerry got upset with my son for something or another and I saw him running at my son in an apparent fury, intending to do who knows what, maybe hit him or tackle him or something (which he has done on other occasions). My son saw it coming and intercepted the attack with a side kick to the midsection. The coach had turned his back and didn't witness it, but the assistant coach did see what happened. Jerry fell down and started crying loudly but he wasn't coherent and my son just clammed up. Jerry was not seriously hurt as it turned out but there were cleat marks on his stomach. I think the mom assumed my kid had attacked Jerry, but she didn't directly witness it either. Jerry and his mom leave, my son gets a time out for 10 mins and then goes back into the game. The coach tells me that he understands it was self defense but my kid has to be kicked off of the team if it ever happens again.
Now I am feeling a lot of conflicting emotions about this. On the one hand, I am horrified that my kid reacted with such a high level of force to Jerry, but on the other hand there is that small part of me that is proud he defended himself so well. I had a talk with him afterward about bringing down the level of force for other kids who are smaller or weaker or special. I can't say he did wrong, but in a self defense situation it's too easy to second guess after the fact what someone should have done. OTOH, he definitely needs real training to bring his skills under control. That may take a few years however, meanwhile what if Jerry comes at him again, how should I tell him to defend himself?
I am not yet a black belt in my own martial art, far from it! I have never had to deal with this before. If someone came at me like Jerry did I'd know how to defend myself against it but likely it would be with maiming force, I have not yet learned the more subtle points deflecting attacks without harming the opponent. So I really do not know how to counsel my son for this. Suggestions? Opinions?