Kids Protecting Themselves

Martial Arts Studio Offers Child Defense Programs

Valhalla Elite Training Center
Paul Wellman

The Valhalla Elite Training Center, a martial arts studio that teaches self-improvement through self-defense, has been running a child defense program that focuses on fending off predators.

The program has two different classes geared toward children: one concentrates on dealing with predators and the other on bullies. The key lesson for the classes is awareness, say instructors, where children learn to recognize abusers and use self-defense for their own safety.

“There are three aspects of awareness I emphasize,” Valhalla training instructor Michael McDonald said. “They include the identification of the predator, the response to the identification, and understanding how to properly respond in the situation.”

The predator program is only one hour per month, and parents are encouraged to attend so they can reinforce the lessons in their children. “It’s important because they help their children later absorb what they learned,” McDonald said.

“It is important to educate the child about what predators are,” McDonald went on. “They can normally be an acquaintance or someone well-known. If parents continue to put their children into a situation with a predator, the child thinks its okay, and this cycle can continue for decades.” Predators, he said, are defined as those who use any form of harassment to threaten children, which can also include sexual abuse.

Bullying defense classes are also available at the center, with lessons held as often as twice per week, but the focus is more on developing the student’s restraint from physical violence, said McDonald. For example, classes are directed at how to stand up to bullies in certain situations and make the right decision. Even though physical violence may cause what McDonald calls an “adrenaline response,” the hope is that the child resists violence.

McDonald is a certified rape prevention instructor, and he has had personal experience with bullying. His experience later encouraged him to begin the program.

“When I was younger, I was a small guy,” McDonald said. “Over the years, I took notes on what worked on how to stand up to bullies. I use it now in the program, and it has been very successful.”

Valhalla — which is located at 1722 State Street — also offers classes in traditional kung fu, Sambo, kickboxing, mixed martial arts, and Krav Maga. All ages are welcome to enroll.


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