Would You Teach Gang Members MA?

jks9199

Administrator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2006
Messages
22,672
Reaction score
2,924
Location
Northern VA
Obviously no one on this board ever wants to see any harm come to LE, CO, teachers of adjudicated kids, or the general public. And I personally would never take on a MA student that I doubted would do the right thing/change for the better along the MA path (or if I did later regret it, would turn up the heat--if they're for real, they'll take it; if not, they're gone). There's a big difference in California between adult and juvenile gangs, and gang members. Drac, I'm wondering if the book you're talking about was more for use by adult gangsters, who are basically career criminals? For one thing, the juvenile bangers I've known (and the number is legion :uhyeah:) wouldn't have near the discipline to learn anything that complicated. Just bring this up because I and probably some others are only speaking of juveniles. Adult gangsters I would never touch.

No -- bangers are bangers. Juvie bangers are every bit as bad as the adults, and can be worse, because, like Avis, they try harder. Some juvies are merely imitating what they see from TV, movies, hip-hop culture, and other sources, and others are just getting involved, and intervention can work -- but I've seen more cases where intervention efforts just delayed things a few years, at best.

Many of the gangs do have a definite level of national organization, even if they don't exert day-to-day or operational control, especially those with ties to prison gangs or leaders who are incarcerated. Larry Hoover still has strong control over the Gangster Disciples, for example. La Eme exerts frightening power and control over many Latino street gangs, even though La Eme is a prison gang.

Unsure about that...I believe the officer that put that info sheet for us together said it was "juvies"..NEVER underestimate these punk kids..To learn a new skill to put a hurting on "po-po" they'll invest the time..I

Ditto! As I said -- the juvies are every bit as bad as the adults. Or worse. In one jurisdiction that I'm familiar with, they expect to waive juvies into adult court on gang charges, and it's an exception when they don't do so.

When the OP was referring to gangs and kids, he was referring to a time decades ago. Individuals like Mike Pick and the rest that he referred to came from a different time. Now, I think that gangs are different. I get the feeling that they are more violent and more willing then ever to do crime. Also, it seems like the organizations are a lot tighter and far reaching then ever before.

Criminal street gangs have evolved, in response to many factors both in and among the gangs and in society. More have become national or international in scope. They've spread to places once assumed to be "safe" because they were too rural, or too suburban, or not ethnic enough... Ironically, part of what's happened is that parents have moved their families to get kids out of the gangs, and the kids have brought the gangs with them. I'm far from a gang expert; I just work with guys that really are experts. The one rule we have is that gangs are constantly changing. What was true yesterday may not be true today.
 

kidswarrior

Senior Master
Joined
Jan 27, 2007
Messages
2,697
Reaction score
152
Location
California
No -- bangers are bangers. Juvie bangers are every bit as bad as the adults, and can be worse, because, like Avis, they try harder.
Well, you say No, I say Yes, at least in my geographical area and in my experience. Guess we'll just disagree on this point. :asian:

To clarify why I think there's a difference, I would point back to my first post in this thread (#8), that some experts delimit three levels of involvement. Now if it's a hard-core, initiated member, then I would agree with you: age is irrelevant. And adult gangsters don't have any outer-level of involvement: you're in or out.


I'm far from a gang expert; I just work with guys that really are experts.
I'm far from an expert, also. All I have is my own experience--roughly two decades of working with juvenile gangsters. And have read a few books, and am a statewide trainer of trainers in CA, but those things don't mean all that much.
 

Last Fearner

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Jan 21, 2006
Messages
712
Reaction score
17
From the original post:

If you had the chance to teach kids in known gangs will you?

I have the opportunity to help a man teach MA to people in South Central Los Angeles. He used to be in a gang, but martial arts opened a new door way for him to get out of that life. He believes that MA can improve the quality of life and will eventually improve the neighborhood.
I believe that MA can improve the quality of life for those who are taught correctly, and a well run program can improve the neighborhood. What I caution about those who are thinking about helping "kids" to straighten their lives out when they are currently, or might be considering involvement in gangs is that you don't take it lightly. To think, "I'm a good instructor, so I can handle turning these kids' lives around," is a big assumption. This kind of specialized work requires a special education in dealing with gangs.

For a Martial Art program to have a positive impact on the community, and to extract kids from the gang and the gang's influence, an instructor really needs to have a personal, in-depth relationship with the people of the community, the residents of the neighborhoods, and to know most of the bangers and the gang leaders by name and face recognition. If you are too removed from the community and the gangs, yet you believe you are going to make a difference by teaching a few kids the Martial Art, you might be contributing more to the problem then actually doing any good. If you are interested in pursuing this line of work - - GET SOME ADDITIONAL TRAINING AND EDUCATION!!!

I believe it was Vigil (Barrio Gangs) who first opened my eyes to this fact, there are three concentric circles of increasing gang involvement: the wannabe (often younger, and looking to be cool); the pal-around, often just living in the same neighborhood, and so for him or her, ignoring the gang's wishes can be a death sentence, or at least a daily beating (very often why people join a gang); the hard-core minority, the guys who will maim, kill, and who have little compunction in spending life behind bars
These are good points to consider. There have always been the kind of friendly buddies who hang out with each other. They go places together, stick up for one another, and cover each other's backs. They say to their mom, "I'm going to be out with the gang tonight. This is not the kind of "gang" members we need to be talking about here. If these guys get into any trouble, its mostly misdemeanor stuff, and juvenile pranks. They need Martial Art training just to keep their values straight.

The "wannabe" gang member is in a precarious, and dangerous time of their life. If they get the right positive influences, they might avoid going deeper into an adult life of crime and gang affiliation. Martial Art training can help here, but this is where the instructor really needs specialized education. These "wannabes" can easily be influenced by the more hard core bangers, and might commit a more serious felony at the drop of a hat. These are the ones who are often trusted by society because it is not clear they are into gang activity, and a Martial Art instructor might just be feeding the knowledge that they will in turn take to their homies to practice for fighting against rival gangs, police, victims of crimes, or to just be top dog in their own gang.

The BEST rule here is that you must have a handle on what's going on in this kids life 24/7. If they are not willing to break all gang ties in agreement to being your student, then they are not ready, and can not be trusted. You don't have to abandon them, though. Keep the "door open" for an alternative opportunity for success, but don't cross the line to teach them in hopes they will someday leave the gang because of the MA influence. If they are on the edge of gang involvement, or are seriously asking for help to get out, then bring them in for discipline training, character building, philosophy of life kind influence until they prove they are not involved in gang activities.​

Then there are those who are criminals and actually train in martial arts (I don't know any personally but I am sure they are out there).
Yes, they do exist. It might vary from state to state, and city to city, but my belief is that most gangs have some kind of organized practice on how to fight in the street. Some of it is crude, street-fighting tactics while others have more structured Martial Art classes. There is often one or more members of each gang who have had some Martial Art training (often a rogue Black Belt or two) who will instruct the rest of the gang. Remember, they want their gang to be the toughest in their area. They work with weapons (knives, bats, tire irons, 2x4s, guns, and unarmed combat) I have seen gang members visiting indoor firing ranges to get more practice at shooting.

I think the story about the guy who joined the military and then brought the marksmenship training back to his homies is a great illustration of this.
This is a great illustration, and one that raises great concern in my mind. Many soldiers come out of the service (especially after live combat) more messed up than when they went in. If life doesn't pan out for them post-enlistment, they are just as likely to turn to crime and gangs as anyone else under hardship conditions, and then they have the added skills of military combat to add into the mix. The military can straighten out the lives of many mixed up people, but it often does not stick forever in many.

This is why I have a major opposition with those who simply label "Martial Art" as "Combat training" or the "art of fighting." Soldiers get that, and might still end up messed up (even with strict discipline). I think most military training (and speaking from experience in the U.S. military) has come a long way on this issue, but it has a long way to go. The Martial Art should be different in that our first concern is to mold the individual's character, and be certain that they are prepared to handle the responsibility of this deadly knowledge. This modern day attitude of generation X, etc, that Martial Art is all about fighting, and the best fighter is the best Martial Artist is a bunch of ignorant nonsense (in my professional opinion)! If a student graduates to Black Belt, and doesn't have their head screwed on straight, or their ethical priorities set, then the instructor has failed!

The hard core gang member should not be accepted as a student because they do not possess the character traits that perpetuate a positive evolution of Martial Art instruction, and proper, ethical use of this knowledge. I'm of the school of thought that Martial Art knowledge is for the righteous and the innocent to protect themselves, while "fighting" and "street combat" is for the hoodlums, gang-bangers, and criminal element. Keep the Martial Art always to be more successful, superior in knowledge and skill than any form of street combat and the righteous will prevail.

Going back to the original question....would you teach any kid involved in a gang? Maybe they will turn out like Pastor Raul Ries or Mike Pick. But what if they turn out like Mr. X?

I would want to help the community in South Central Los Angeles. My concern lies with teaching kids martial arts. Will they respect the art and be able to control their anger?
This can only be answered on a case-by-case consideration. They will respect the art, if they respect the teacher and the teacher instills the lessons of value for Martial Art education, as well as moral and ethical behavior in their every day life. Also, remember this, you are not teaching them to "control their anger." You are teaching them not to be angry! There is an important difference. If they respect you, they will leave the gang life, and cease to commit crimes. If they refuse to leave the gang life completely, then they are not ready for what you have to offer them. Keep in touch with them, and keep influencing them until they are.

Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own
reputation; for 'tis better to be alone than in bad company.
- George Washington


I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.
- Abraham Lincoln


CM D.J. Eisenhart
 
OP
Hawke

Hawke

Master Black Belt
Joined
Jan 10, 2007
Messages
1,067
Reaction score
24
Greetings and Salutations!

Thank you for your response. There are many caring and knowledeable people on this forum.

I had a talk with the instructor at the park. He knows the leaders of the local gangs. He has veteran students of his come out to help with the lessons. These are really nice guys, they are HUGE, but really nice.

He is willing to teach people that have a sincere interest to learn the art. Also the live African drumming makes the practice more enjoyable.

I wish I could post pics. hehe

Many Thanks,
Stephen
 

mjd

Green Belt
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Messages
190
Reaction score
0
Location
Carthage, Ill
That's a hard question, that raises numerous questions.

If you do teach them and they continue their gang ways, what have you created?

Are the people around them in the community safer?

I would like to think MA could change these people, but it will take a speacial person to accomplish this, a very special person, not just a MA instructor but a motovator of people.

Something to think about.
 

Drac

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jul 16, 2004
Messages
22,738
Reaction score
143
Location
Ohio
That's a hard question, that raises numerous questions.

If you do teach them and they continue their gang ways, what have you created?

An even more violent breed of criminal..

mjd said:
Are the people around them in the community safer?

No!

mjd said:
I would like to think MA could change these people, but it will take a speacial person to accomplish this, a very special person, not just a MA instructor but a motovator of people

It's a nice thought, but the ONLY person that can turn a wasted life around is themselves..They must WANT to do it..All the community outreach programs in the world manned the the positive people you could imagine will be unable to change someone that does NOT to change..
 

Indie12

Blue Belt
Joined
Mar 7, 2011
Messages
270
Reaction score
1
It also depends on what you plan to teach them. Military combatives? No way.
Kendo or Olympic TKD? No problem at all.

Why would you NOT teach them military combatives, or MCMAP, but still teach them Kendo or Olympic TKD? Kendo or Olympic TKD are still WEAPONS, even if there used for more Sport purposes!!

Also, I will add that even Military Combatives can still be used in Sport settings. (Example: Army Combative Competition and Tournaments, or MCMAP cage fights)

Just because it's military, doesn't mean it's 100% combat effective!

Background Checks help to eliminate some of the gang members from becoming members of the Martial Arts community. (Although Background Checks are NOT fool-proof!)
Otherwise, I say why give a gang member another weapon to use against innocent people? For Sport use or Combat Use?
 

tenzen

Blue Belt
Joined
Jul 29, 2009
Messages
207
Reaction score
2
I would say teach them. You stated that they are kids which means its not too late for you to have a positive influence on them. Most of these kids join gangs because they need guidance and a role model, even if its not a good one. They are lost and most have either one or both parents absent.
I was involved in gangs when I was younger, my sister and I lived with our mom and things weren't great. I got in with the gangs because I thought it was coolit was a place for me, I belonged to something. I already had experience with martial arts because both of my parents were martial artists and had taught me from the time I could walk. But I didn't really understand it. My parents split. And we moved across the country. It was hard on me. As I got older because of martial arts and nothing else I got away from these things. I found what I liked to do and I couldn't get in trouble for it. I met a lot of people who influenced my life in a poistive way. All from martial arts. So I think you should teach them, give them a chance. If you cast them away like everyone else your creating a future criminal.
 

Balrog

Master of Arts
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
1,721
Reaction score
410
Location
Houston, TX
I will accept the individual as a student under certain requirements. They will not be taught anything more than basic self defense (necessary survival skills to protect themselves) until they quit all association with gang activities. They will not promote in rank, or learn advanced training until the meet every requirement I give them (eg: get in school/stay in school or work toward GED; keep grades improving and maintain good attendance with minimum GPA; No disrespect to parents/legal guardian, teachers or police; No criminal activity, no wearing gang colors, insignia, or flashing gang signs (I have street contacts who keep me informed who is up to what).
This.

Keeping in mind that if I teach someone Taekwondo and they go out on the street and use it on someone, I'm the one who will be sued....

They would have to earn the right to learn, and I would be straight up front with them. Actions have consequences; their actions so far have not given me any reason to trust them. They will have to earn that trust. And like Last Fearner said, they'll get a very specific list of things they will have to accomplish to do that. First and foremost on that list: get away from the gangs. Period.
 

tenzen

Blue Belt
Joined
Jul 29, 2009
Messages
207
Reaction score
2
Ok so this thread can be ended everyone needs to go watch only the strong.
Everyone deserves a chance we just have to use the correct judgement on what they learn and when.
You could be saving those kids lives and in turn saving someone elses.
 

ATACX GYM

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Feb 15, 2011
Messages
893
Reaction score
24
I have been traning gang members for 14 years without incident.Some were adults.I live in LONG BEACH CA and I've seen some hairy stuff.I use a combo of what tenzen and Last Fearner use but I make it a point to address their anger issues in class WITH SPARRING AND SPARRING EQUIPMENT.Yes...I have these sometimes very angry young men work their anger out sparring most of the time with me but sometimes with my other students.The results are always eye opening for the ganxta,as they have NEVER made it out of the 2nd round with any of my students and they fare far worse with me.

I've even trained adult ganxtas.These men and women have already heard of me and my methods so nobody wilds out on the mat,and since everyone knows I'm from the hood myself and live here? Nobody doubts that I'll show them something inapplicable.Gun disarms I've shown them.Knife stick and other disarms I show them.I don't accept everyone into my class,I've dealt with people who've gotten angry quite successfully; I've become a "triple O.G." insofar as the respect that ganxtas--even of rival gangs and different races--are concerned.

And I've had dozens of ex and current ganxtas come up to me and say I've saved their lives with the example I've shown them,the techniques I taught them,and the fact that I don't leave the hood.Many younger brothers and sisters have decided to NOT become ganxtas as they watched their older siblings transform under my tutelage,and maaany parents have gushed effusive thanks to me regarding the teaching that I have given them...including the academic tutoring that I offer (I'm pursuing my Master's and Ph.d.)
 

shima

K3NPO
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2011
Messages
227
Reaction score
23
Location
Austin, TX
I've never had the chance since thankfully I've generally lived in nicer areas, but I would certainly teach them if ever given the chance. The self defense aspect is by far the most important because that's the type of training that can and most likely will save their lives later. Also if you keep with it I imagine you'd change their perspective and be able to convert a few out of that lifestyle when you show them their stress and anger can have a productive non criminal output in life. I think it would be a great challenge and would welcome such an opportunity if it ever came my way.
 

ATACX GYM

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Feb 15, 2011
Messages
893
Reaction score
24
I've never had the chance since thankfully I've generally lived in nicer areas, but I would certainly teach them if ever given the chance. The self defense aspect is by far the most important because that's the type of training that can and most likely will save their lives later. Also if you keep with it I imagine you'd change their perspective and be able to convert a few out of that lifestyle when you show them their stress and anger can have a productive non criminal output in life. I think it would be a great challenge and would welcome such an opportunity if it ever came my way.



Without any doubt,the effectiveness and character building aspects of martial arts self defense training has a significantly salutory effect on most of the ganxtas I've trained and spent time with.Almost all of them have subsequently left their ganxta lifestyles.I recall some "triple O.G.'s" from 20's,and I.C.G. (Insane Crip Gang),ESL (East Side Longos,a Latino gang) coming up to me and CONGRATULATING AND THANKING ME for my help and my influence even though over the last 14-15 years I've contributed to EACH gang losing about 140-150 kids and about half that many adults.I train on average 10 ganxtas--of each of the rival gangs--every Spring and Summer.Even though I've never trained anyone from their set,the Cambodian gangs respect me too.They've seen me do Khmer kickboxing and they know I'm good at it; I've sparred and fought some of their best and decisively beaten all of them within the first round in the ring and in seconds outside of the ring (pesky gloves slow me down a taste and reduce my arsenal ALOT).

It's very good to see your post,Shima!
 

Thesemindz

Senior Master
MT Mentor
Joined
Oct 26, 2003
Messages
2,170
Reaction score
101
Location
Springfield, Missouri
To be honest I never ask what my students do for a living. I mean, sometimes it comes up in conversation but that's not really why I'm there. The way place only has enough room for karate. As long as the students shower regularly and show everyone respect when they are in the dojo, I don't care what they do in their free time. Here we do karate. Nothing else. If they can't be clean or respectful though, they aren't welcome in my classes.

I teach police and military and other government employees. I teach civilians, women and children. I teach the elderly and the disabled. I'm sure I've taught criminals too. And bullies. I believe we're better for every time we dressed out and stepped on the training floor. Even the worst of us. Martial arts teaches respect, although admittedly some refuse to learn. That's humans for you.

I don't want to do mission work right now, so I wouldn't look out for an opportunity like that; but I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with the idea. If you're intentions are pure you may succeed. But you will only be able to lead by example.

Good luck.


-Rob
 

threethirty

Yellow Belt
Joined
Mar 18, 2011
Messages
39
Reaction score
2
Location
Richmond, IN, USA
If you have to ask then, no. You sound fairly distrustful of the neighborhood already and having gangsters in there could only make that worse. Don't ever teach someone you are uncomfortable teaching.

Sifu says that if he wouldnt put a loaded gun in your hand and turn his back to you then he is not going to teach you to be that weapon.
 

Josh Oakley

Senior Master
Supporting Member
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 15, 2006
Messages
2,226
Reaction score
59
Location
Seattle, WA
I haven't taught actual gansters, but I've taught bullies, and kids who get into bad trouble. I've taught kids who are into drugs. And I've seen great results from those experiences (though they drain your energy quite a bit). Based on these experiences I'd teach a gangster.

Empowering a kid to be able to trust in themselves seems to diminish negative activities. The thing to remember is that if you're a good martial arts instructor, you're not just teaching them combat.
 

ATACX GYM

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Feb 15, 2011
Messages
893
Reaction score
24
I believe I understand both threethirty AND Josh's perspectives.My response to threethirty is: I see wisdom in your Sifu's words.However,in my experience,THE PROCESS OF TRAINING a person tells all that I need to know about them.If they had a violent,short temper coming in but during sparring they eventually learn to direct control and discipline themselves (this is THE NUMBER ONE challenge that I have faced regarding training "ganxtas",the other is overcoming their consistent defiance; I've found a very simple and highly effective method of doing both at the same time without dissing them so bad that they lose too much face)? If they learn to show restraint in class,learn particularly to increase their flexibility,their endurance,and do the kicks,rolls,katas? You will see them grow and blossom in ways that they never knew they could.They become intrigued and invested almost despite themselves.

And they ask at first the most hilarious questions,which morph into REAL questions as time passes.I've been asked by a ganxta who was dead up serious whether or not he would get THE GLOW like BRUCE LEROY when he became "The Master". I had to really fight for a fractured second to NOT howl with laughter,because he would have never brought questions that opened himself up to me again...and of course I told him NO and told him the real deal.A month later he asked me why doesn't he want to bang and smoke weed so much anymore. I told him that you're growing as a human being,and the questions you needed to ask of yourself,the issues that you needed to resolve in your heart that encouraged you to bang? They're being answered more completely,better,and more fully via martial arts.You don't have so much anger any more; the Warrior's Way is showing you peace and discipline. 2 months later he refused to participate in a driveby and his immediate gang homies sweated him and he asked me how he could explain to them that he's not no sellout or karate transformer (switching allegiance from his gang to karate) and I said to him that he should tell them that he's more dangerous now than ever,and because of that? Things that used to threaten him before DON'T.If the enemies rode on his homies or him? He'd respond.If they didn't? He had more important stuff to do like finish school make money train and talk to girls.And you don't put yourself in positions where you have to start stompin on dudes for nothin not because you're a coward but because it's beneath you.Now that you're a martial artist making real changes and growth,you fighting these guys would be like a pro boxer picking on a kid.The boxers don't do that because they already know what they'd do to the kid,so they mess with other boxers.It doesn't matter if the kid is stupid enough to think that the he can hang with the boxer,the boxer knows better and is like:"Yeah right kid." and keeps it pushin.That's what you do with all that ganxta drama now."Yeah right kid." Keep it pushin.

6 weeks later he participated in his first tournament.Swept the underbelt sparring without having a single point scored on him and one the title match 14-3.His boiz were there and LOVED IT.They came to our next tournament (last summer) and watched their homeboy take his grappling weight class (6 matches,6 submissions) too.THEY LOVED IT.They were amazed at what their homie could do.I heard them say several times comments like:"My ***** on some UFC **** now! He doin some Tekken ****!" 12 of them joined up since then (last year),and DeeAndre (the ganxta who first asked me if he would glow like BRUCE LEROY and the main subject of this anecdote) went from being a "D-" student last year on the verge of being expelled to being on track to graduate this year (the first of his brothers and sisters to do so) and this semester? He had a 3.0 and can run track now and play football next semester as a result.Of the 12 who joined,8 are still with me and all 8 have grown and changed dramatically as well.

It's HARD work.But it can be rewarding.
 

mook jong man

Senior Master
Joined
May 28, 2008
Messages
3,080
Reaction score
261
Location
Matsudo , Japan
I've taught my fair share of hardcore gangstaz over the years , there were. the infamous "Westside Wankers" , a gang made up entirely of single men , you've probably heard of them.
Very tough guy's with phenomenal grip strength , but only in the one hand strangely enough.

Then there were the "Southside Psychopaths", nice bunch of guys but for some reason they only seemed happy when doing knife work.

I also trained the notorious "Kleptomaniac Krew" , but that didn't last long because our equipment kept going missing.
 

ATACX GYM

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Feb 15, 2011
Messages
893
Reaction score
24
I've taught my fair share of hardcore gangstaz over the years , there were. the infamous "Westside Wankers" , a gang made up entirely of single men , you've probably heard of them.
Very tough guy's with phenomenal grip strength , but only in the one hand strangely enough.

Then there were the "Southside Psychopaths", nice bunch of guys but for some reason they only seemed happy when doing knife work.

I also trained the notorious "Kleptomaniac Krew" , but that didn't last long because our equipment kept going missing.


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA!!! This is the best post of the thread!
 
Top