martial arts applied to children


Senior Master
Aug 5, 2005
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Forgive me if this has been brought up before, but I searched and could not find it.

My wife is a teacher, and at times has had to take classes in how to handle a physically disruptive student. One of her teachers in school last year kept getting physically kicked by a student to the point of her whole leg being bruised.

I also had a class on Monday that brought this topic up again. I had to do some randori with an 11 year old. Never worked with anyone so young (which is another story), and was kind of shocked by how fragile they can physically be. Was scared to do anything! He was so small too (I'm pretty tall).

so, the question is as follows... as a teacher you are not supposed to destroy your students. Even some simple MA techniques might be disruptive and quite painful. The student is typically so small (this was an elementary school) that some normal techniques might be a bit difficult. How do you deal with physically violent students? at that age, they are not likely to be seriously injured by the student, but you don't want them to be "dishonored" in front of the class I imagine, and law suites are prevelant. How would you modify potential techniques for such a small frame? Would you even attempt to do anything physical to stop them? Restrain them? If so, how can you make sure you don't potentially injure them? Does anyone here teach teachers in courses like this? It seems most martial arts training is applied towards average size attackers and geared toward physical destruction/evasion/aggresive defense.



Eternal Beginner

Brown Belt
Aug 5, 2004
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What a nightmare scenario! I hope I am never in that circumstance because really, you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. If you let the child hurt other children you are to blame and if you touch the child you are in trouble. Tough spot.

Only thing I can tell you, from personal experience, was my son was in a similar incident at school. One child, who has emotional and behavioural problems, was physically attacking a much smaller little girl. Kids crowded around yelling at him to stop but he wouldn't. A few of the kids ran to get the playground supervisor but that was taking some time. Finally my child couldn't stand it, double-legged the kid and just pinned him to the ground with his body.

Keep in mind, my son was considerably smaller but he had been trained how to keep his weight on someone. Fortunately, it was on grass so neither of them got hurt. Long story short, my son was able to protect the little girl without hurting the aggressor.

Effective pinning and restraint techniques were vital in this situation. My son had learned wrist locks and other similar techniques in a karate school but I don't think (and neither did he at the time) that it would have worked as the child was flailing about and getting the arm would have been difficult. The gross motor movement of a double leg that he had learned in BJJ was simple and effective.


Black Belt
Sep 18, 2004
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If I were the teacher in this situation I would not even touch the student. My first step would be to notify the school administration a.s.a.p. as to what happend and ask that the student be removed from the class. I would then file a report with the school administrator and request a meeting with the parents of the child. Until that meeting I would request that the student be seperated from the class. The minute the child is touched by you wether in defense of self or not it could become a lawsuit. Just my 2 cents.

In the spirit of bushido!


Andrew Green

MTS Alumni
Aug 1, 2004
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Winnipeg MB
What Rob said, unless you have to do something immediately to protect yourself or others don't touch them. Let administration deal with it, A kick in the shins isn't worth your job.

If you do have to restrain a student, thats all you do, restrain. And have another adult present, immediately report to admin and file all the paper work you think could possibly apply, notify the parents immediately and cover your but in every possible way.

If you do attempt to restrain, and they thrash around and hurt themselves, guess who's going to get blamed....