Home Page Scholastic / College Chess Life for Kids How to Safely Checkmate a Bully
|How to Safely Checkmate a Bully|
|By Lisa Suhay|
|August 6, 2010|
School can be harder than just passing tests, especially when you are busy trying to avoid a bully who’s making life miserable. The bully seems to spend all of his or her time making you feel bad about yourself, embarrassing you, or even physically shoving and bumping you around.
In school, on the bus, walking home, at lunch, in gym class, or the stairwells and halls, bullies are a dangerous distraction. The biggest danger isn’t even physical, but the fact is that bullies make kids hate school.
Some parents and teachers often say, “Just stand up to a bully and he or she will back down.” But how, exactly, are you supposed to do that? On the chess board there are moves and counter moves, gambits and defenses. In life there are strategies to use against a bully that are now being taught, along with chess, in a brand new Bullyproof chess program.
Bullyproof chess started in San Francisco, California with, Adisa Banjoko, a competing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu purple belt and founder of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation (HHCF). He was later joined by the Gracie family who created this “gentle” form of martial arts called Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Hip-hop chess fuses music, chess and martial arts to promote unity and non-violence. The Gracie family, originally from Brazil, changed basic Jiu-Jitsu into a way for the smaller, smarter, more patient opponent to win over the bigger, more physically powerful bully. Mixed martial arts (MMA) pioneer, Rickson Gracie, says he draws much of his strength on the mat from the chess games he plays. He often calls Jiu-Jitsu, “a physical game of chess.”
You don’t have to be an athlete, or beastly big and strong, to do these moves. It’s all about leverage, patience and strategy. A lever is a solid piece on an axis; like a seesaw. Leverage is the mechanical advantage gained by being in a position to use a lever. Your body has lots of levers that we call joints: elbows, shoulders, knees etc. Just like in chess, a piece can only move in a certain direction. Knowing how pieces are allowed to move helps us create strategy and overcome opponents.
In Bullyproof we learn how to take the other person off balance in quick, safe and simple ways because you can pry them off their feet and get them locked down by knowing the right and wrong way for a joint to move. The person being bullied can then patiently wait for the bully to wear him or herself out trying to get out of the physical puzzle.
In school, when the worst moment you can imagine actually comes (someone trying to grab or hurt you) and then trying to defend yourself by throwing a wild punch, or fighting the same way the bully fights will only get you into trouble, hurt or both. The Gracies had a better, safer, more effective strategy.
Bullyproof teaches three Ts:
Talk. Try and get the bully to leave you alone with words. It’s like setting up the pawns.
Tell. Tell a parent, trusted adult or teacher. This is like moving out more powerful pieces to defend.
Tackle (first with verbal Jiu-Jitsu and then physically). Verbal Jiu-Jitsu is saying, “You keep doing these things to me all the time. Are you challenging me to a fight?” Now no matter what the bully answers, you are going to win. If they say “yes,” and you’ve been Bullyproofed, the bully is going to be finished in less than a minute and in the principal’s office. If they say no, then you push your advantage and the endgame is saying, “Then you need to stop wasting my time.” You walk away having taken all the bully’s power with you. Tackle is very important because most bullies don’t actually want to get to the point where they have to make a real move. This is where you get the bully into a position where they can forfeit the game.
As in chess, handling a bully is all about positional control. In chess we can begin by taking control of the four center squares and maintaining that control. The endgame is all about pinning down the opponent’s king and letting him wear himself out running all over the board until he has nowhere else to go. The opponent falls over and gives up, gassed-out, exhausted, “checkmate!”
That’s exactly what Gracie Jiu-Jitsu teaches kids to do. Once the 3Ts have happened and the bully still decides to get physical, kids learn how to safely get the bully on the ground and hold him or her down in a locked-up position. The bully is in a human pretzel of pain, but you aren’t in trouble because you waited patiently for the attack to come to you. It doesn’t matter if that bully is towering over you because everyone is the same height lying-down. The ground is exactly where Bullyproof kids want the game to be played out.
It’s really true the bigger they are the harder they fall, and the faster they “gas-out” and give up. It takes about 30-60 seconds of just pinning the other person down Bullyproof-style, before they are huffing and puffing and the fight is over.
The very first Bullyproof chess sessions are being held this summer at the Lambert’s Point Community Center, Norfolk, Virginia. It’s all part of a 10-week free summer camp for kids run by volunteers from the Norfolk police department, Hip-Hop Chess Federation and Norfolk Karate Academy.
In a large multi-purpose room here, the divider is drawn like a curtain between the two activities: Hip-Hop Chess and Gracie Bullyproof instruction. Approximately 50 children ages 5-12 rotate between the two spaces and the sound generated is a high-energy mix of music, laughter and combat on the boards and mats that mingle in the air.
Tidewater, Virginia chess club instructor Ernie Schlich, took on the task of teaching those children and police officers who had never played chess the fundamentals, while more experienced players sharpened their game.
Norfolk Karate Academy founder Bill Odom, Gracie Bullyproof instructor Brad Taylor, his wife and two sons (all karate black belts), along with licensed Gracie Bullyproof instructor Rebecca Sizemore took the children through the basics of Bullyproof’s 3 Ts: Talk. Tell. Tackle. By the end of day one, kids knew how to keep a bully on the ground in a way that keeps them from getting punched or kicked by the bully.
For two hours kids took turns learning the moves on and off the board and mats.
By the end of the summer these students will be ready for back-to-school with a whole new way of handling bullies and chess. They will have confidence in their bodies and minds, to live balanced, happy, safe lives.
Lisa Suhay is the mother of four boys ages 6, 11, 15 & 16. She and all her sons are enrolled in Gracie Combatives/Bullyproof at Norfolk Karate Academy. Mrs. Suhay is the author of eight children’s books and a Hip-Hop Chess Federation organizer.