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the mailbox is still full...

Believe it or not, I'm still trying to answer all the emails about DJ's bully. I received over 100 emails (in addition to the 100+ comments) on the subject, and I am trying to respond to every one of them. So please, do not think I am ignoring you or just not writing back if I haven't gotten to yours yet.

Many people wrote to give me legal advice or to suggest attorneys in the area who can help me out. I work in District Court here, so i picked the brains of some of the judges and attorneys around the office. Quite a few offered to help me out if I need it. I'm really hoping it doesn't come down to that.

The last two days have been quiet, DJ hasn't told me any tales of terror from the classroom, so I'm hoping the teacher and principal really did speak to the kid and it had some effect on him. We'll see.

Meanwhile, my sister is going to sign DJ up for karate lessons as a birthday present (January 30) and I think while we're at it, I'll sign Natalie up, too. She's at that age where she's starting to fight off the boys and I think learning how to execute a well-placed kick might come in handy. Hell, maybe I'll sign up, too. Knowing some martial arts might be a good idea if I'm going to be president of Club Katana.

Anyhow, thank you once again, from the bottom of my heart, for all your support, advice and stories. You have no idea how much it means to us that so many of you took the story to heart and tried to help us.

I love the blogosphere.


It might be good to consider a self defense class for Natalie and maybe DJ too. I know a lot of karate places offer them a few times a year for moderate fees. I've taken several. Luckily I've never had to use what I learned, but I feel more confident with the knowledge I have. A good self defense class doesn't just teach you the moves to put on an attacker, but how to avoid being a victim in the first place.

Ok, I think with the rest of you taking karate, the rest of us should take up a collection so Justin can go to, just to defend himself from your "practice"!

Martial arts is a fine thing, and I was even once involved in it (need to get back in it, but college takes up all my time). Take this piece of advice though, and with all due respect to Theresa: do not take one of those half-assed 'self-defense classes'. Those classes teach you just enough that when you get in a scrap you try something and fail, and then it really pisses your opponent off; instead of simply robbing you now he's going to kill you.

If you want to learn any kind of weaponless combat take a proper martial arts class and stay with it. Regardless of what they might say on TV, you cannot learn how to adequately defend yourself from serious attack with 4 weeks of self-defense training. It takes years of hard training and dedication. I took karate for seven years and made 2nd degree black-belt. It was not easy. It was about a year before I felt confident about surviving any sort of fight.

One of the first things your instructor will teach you is that it is best to avoid trouble. The 2nd thing he will teach you is that once you are in trouble, you don't pull any punches. I'm not trying to be dramatic here, but don't contemplate something like this lightly; when you take those classes they are going to show you how to do things that will kill people.

Still, it's a very good idea. It's good exercise, its fun, and its a very good way to get the stress out. Plus, you just never know when you might need it.


You're all in my thoughts and prayers, hope things start looking up!

I would like to suggest something a little different then the normal "Karate" or "Kung Fu" self defence systems that take muliple classes and multiple years to learn and master.
"Krav Maga" is the street fighting technique used first by the IDF and is now being taught to our enlisted men & women. I have taken classes in both Krav Maga and Aikido. Aikido is nice becuase it can turn any attack in any form of hand to hand around against the attacker, but it can take years to master the holds and throws. Krav Maga on the other hand informs the student about how to use unorthodox hard edges of the body for offensive purposes.
Please take a look at 92ndsty.org and makor.org (sorry, I don't know how to link)for info.
I wish you and your family the best in whatever choice you make. One of the best things a person can do for society is to learn to defend themselves.

I would recommend kendo over karate.

1.Most kendo in the US is non-profit, while most karate is run for profit.

2.Kendo is safer for children than karate; no kicks, throws, or punches means much less chance of broken bones.

3.Kendo qualifies you for membership with oak cluster in Club Katana, right?!? :-)

Sadly, your son's bullying in school is excellent training for bullying at work. One study shows greater cost from missed work days, loss of productivity, et cetera, due to bullying than sexual harrassment law suit costs... but I can not remember the book's title at the moment.

I hope he learns to find strength in himself and retain his trust in the goodness of others, as most people are good and decent.

You might also want to talk to him about why he is embarrassed to get your help (i.e. having you talk to the parents). One of the bully's best weapons is the idea that you have to face him on your own or you're not worthy. Horse puckies. Does DJ have to do his own heart surgery or can he go to the doctor? Does he have to burn the house down, or can he hire a plumber that already knows how to use a welding torch? There will be many things in life that he should ask for help with ... and many things that he will have to face alone ... and the wisdom to know the difference may take more years to learn than he has lived ... so maybe it might be OK if some one with a few more years than he has, helped him out .....

Just a thought. You are a participant. I am only a spectator.

Please take care. I am hoping for the best.
... Adriane

No comment on Tae Kwan Do, or all the black belts I've seen getting beat down because it's not practical in street fighting (ok, well, maybe that can be contrued as a comment).

Actually Faith recently asked me if you got my invite. (I'm only asking because of the deluge of emails.)

"i picked the brains of some of the judges and attorneys around the office. Quite a few offered to help me out if I need it. I'm really hoping it doesn't come down to that."

Too bad. That principal really deserves to have the clue-by-four vigorously applied to the back of his head.

"The last two days have been quiet, DJ hasn't told me any tales of terror from the classroom..."

I hope you're asking him rather than just waiting for him to volunteer. They might have just tried pressuring him into keeping his mouth shut.

Krav Maga...for a nine year old? Come on.

Kendo? You do know that's with a SWORD, right?

Michele, judo is a fine place to start for a youngster. It's all about using your opponent's weight against him. Plus it'll give him a good start in physics, handy for those college courses. :)


Any martial art, taught properly, will benefit the student. As others here have noted, it takes a lot of time, patience, and practice to get good at it. It's also expensive, so be sure that it's something the kids want before you sign them up. Most dojos offer an introductory program for children, but anyone who walks in the door should be prepared to spend six months or so before they'll know if the style they have chosen is right for them.

What you and Natalie might want to consider, strictly as a quick and dirty method of protection, is a course called Model Mugging. While DJ isn't allowed to attend (women only), the course is geared to teaching women how to deliver lethal strikes and defend themselves in the event of sexual assault.

For DJ, ai-ki-do and judo might be better than karate, as they emphasize using your opponent's size and energy against them.

Lastly, I think you are terrific, and I love reading your postings. Keep at it.

there are a few officers me & Michele work with who have recommended martial art classes for D.J. & Nat. they have given me the name of a teacher who is excellent with kids & self discipline as well as self defense. We are all joining, me, Michele, Nat, D.J. & David.

It looks like you've already picked a studio, but as someone who studied TKD for about eight years, I'll comment that I sent my kids to a ju-jitsu studio to learn self-defense. Two reasons:

1) JJ works; grapplers (Ju-Jitsu) beat hitters (karate) in most of the contests where they fight each other;

2) it is more 'politically' correct - if there is a fight, you kid won't have kicked someone in the face and knocked out teeth; it's going to be seen as 'wrestling', and believe me, the perceptions will be very, very different.

...just my $0.02...


TKD is great for teaching self-defense and (just as important) confidence. I took it in my youth before I switched to fencing and have enrolled my 8 yr old son (who is having problems almost identical to DJ) last fall after he had bully problems at school. Ai-ki-do is also a very great system, very soft, few strikes but uses an attackers attack against him or her. It does, however, take years to learn.


(Who thought all girls knew instinctively how to do a critch kick?)

If the moves in Aikido are not executed perfectly the practitioner can be left wide open to counterattack. Children should not be learning aikido, or only in tandem with something more defensive.

I'm personally not to fond of grappling styles because it takes a lot of practice and its still very hard to do. Besides that, I can remember my karate instructor accidently sending a blackbelt Ju-Jitsu to the hospital. Grappling works well for those who can use it, but conventional karate is a lot more reliable because of its straightforward application.