I don’t know what got me thinking about this the morning after Thanksgiving. Maybe it’s because of a blow-up that almost got out of hand at my house yesterday, a situation with a loudmouth that could have easily gotten physical. In any event I was thinking to myself, “If it hadn’t been for my fitness and wing chun training, I wouldn’t have felt like I could handle myself.” Instead, I would have let this person keep talking disrespectfully instead of putting them in their place.
After dwelling on this for a while, my brain linked this thought up with something we hear a lot about these days: the fight against bullying. I asked a teacher one time what they do to prevent bullying. She said, “Well, that’s something called an unfunded mandate. The district wants us to have programs for that, but they won’t give us any MONEY for it.”
My mind cross-referenced that with thoughts about victims of domestic violence. This is basically just another form of bullying. And I wondered: why do all these people allow themselves to be bullied? Why would a woman stay with a guy who beats them repeatedly?
I have seen only one abusive relationship in my life: my mom’s marriage to my stepfather. (It was verbal/emotional abuse not physical…thankfully.) From my experience I have formed an opinion that the answer can be summed up very simply: low self-esteem.
I watched my stepfather wear my mom’s self-esteem down, convincing her he was the best she could do and, if she left him, she would get no one else. For a long time she believed it. Eventually she found a way to rebuild her opinion of herself, and she kicked his ass out. But she went through a lot of crap to get there. This guy must have moved in and out of the house at least a dozen times. Every time he did, he moved back in with the woman he’d been seeing before my mom.
In any case, I was thinking: I’d like to use my wing chun to help people. There is a wing chun instructor I know in Chicago named Dominick Izzo who formed a non-profit group to teach women self-defense. As far as I know, there is nothing like that around here.
Well, I’d like to change that. When I am good enough to get Sifu’s blessing to go off and teach, I want to create something that would benefit victims of bullying, whether that means the kid who constantly gets stuffed in his locker or the woman whose husband takes his anger out on her.
The power that comes from wing chun doesn’t necessarily stem from the techniques themselves. It isn’t that the bullied person goes home thinking they can beat up their bully.
The power they will get will come from the PRAISE they get. When they run through a form, when they practice a self-defense drill, when they point out something they noticed about the style or a certain technique…they will have someone there patting them on the back saying, “Good job. You’re doing great.”
THAT, my friends, is what will give them power. From that they can make a connection in their mind (whether they make it consciously or not) that says, “I AM good enough. I DON’T deserve crappy treatment. I deserve the kind of respect that I get in this class.”
This is what I hope to do with my wing chun. I can’t wait to get there with it someday.