'Bullyproof Boot Camp' teaches kids more than self-defense

Kids learn skills to fight off bullies

SAN ANTONIO - The kids gathered at the martial arts studio on Huebner Road look like they are ready for kung-fu fighting but, in fact, they are taking part in a "bullyproof boot camp."

"We get calls every day from parents who say, 'My kid is getting picked on. He comes home crying (and) I don't know what to do,'" said studio owner Rebekah Duron.

She started the program after her own son was bullied at school.

"A kid in his class was picking on him -- actually slammed him up against the locker -- and was about to punch him when his brother came to the rescue," says Duron.

At Bullyproof Boot Camp, the kids do learn self-defense, but it's a small part of the program.

They are also taught how to deal with bullies, and how to prevent themselves from becoming a target.

"A bully always look for a certain character in a child," says Duron "A low self-esteem, low confidence, and when they see that, it's just an easy target."

Esperanza, an 8-year-old, is taking the course. She's learned how to hold herself.

"Don't put your head down, and keep great posture," she says.

Through role play and discussions, all sorts of scenarios are played out to teach kids to cope and offer solutions to difficult situations.

The father of one boy taking the class sums it up.

"It's not just bullying, it's also an awareness around you, so if he even observes that it's happening, he's prepared to deal with it, and help kids deal with it as well," says Daniel Dilley.

His son, Joey, has already practiced what he's learned by standing up for a friend.

"I stood up for myself and I was like, 'Back off or I'm going to do something about it,' and (the bully) just walked away," said Joey, age 11.

Bullyproof Boot Camp is taught at Soul Fighters Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school on Huebner near Interstate 10.

You can find more information on their website at www.soulfighterstexas.com

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