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Bullying was in the news again this week, with a Telegram story on students and staff at Macdonald Drive Junior High in St. John's taking part in a global event Thursday, an initiative driven by the WE Rise Above campaign that is promoting positive online behaviour.
Online bullying is something new, thanks to the technological world we live in, but there’s still a segment of the traditional physical bullying that’s still going on in schools across the province and country.
Noone knows this more than Pat Cochrane, who is in his 26th year operating the Mount Pearl School of Martial Arts.
The school teaches self-defence classes to male and female adults, but there’s also a bully-proofing class for kids, from children in kinderstart right up to teens.
Society, more than ever before, is aware of bullying, but that doesn’t mean it’s still not happening, Cochrane says.
“Our program is designed to educate students and arm them with training techniques to recognize, defuse, defend and depart from aggressive situations,” he said.
“We teach them to be ARMED — be aware, be ready, maneuver, execute and defend.”
Cochrane, perhaps better known as the provincial baseball Hall of Famer, says bullies try to dominate, a characteristic whether you’re a student or adult. The Mount Pearl School of Martial Arts, he says, teaches people to stand up to bullies.
“We show kids what to expect from bullies,” he said, “and teach them how to deal with bullies.
“We don’t make fighters. We don’t teach fighting. We do teach that you can’t be pushed around. And, unfortunately, at the end of the day you may have to employ self-defence moves.”
Cochrane, trained in Kenpo Karate, has been practising for 40 years. His school, which operates out of O’Donel High School in Mount Pearl, trains its students in kenpo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, grappling and kick boxing.
And it’s not all learning the different art forms. The first 30 minutes of the 90-minute classes are spent on conditioning.
It all provides an opportunity, he says, for exercise while at the same time learning a valuable resource.
“The skills and abilities learned through the study and practice of martial arts impact all aspects of a person’s life,” he said, “and will do so for a lifetime.”