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Program looks to curb bullying
Kids Karate Camp pic
Surrounded by instructors, Graham Hunter, 9, practices with Micheal Morgan, 8, how to escape and defend a rear bear-hug grab during the studios summer kids camp. - photo by Mark Watkins Dawson Community News

Kids from Dawson County and the surrounding area have one more chance to take part in a free self-defense program.

The program, hosted by White Tiger Yongin Mixed Martial Arts in Dawsonville, will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday. The event began as an effort to reduce bullying in schools and the local community.

"Obviously bullying is a big problem everywhere, and by offering the classes free to the community it's a way to give kids tools to deal with physical bullying as well as verbal bullying. But in a manner to escape and keep themselves safe," said Damon Lusky, head jiu jitsu coach. "It's not so much about destroying your opponent as much as it is getting yourself out of danger."

The program, designed around jiu jitsu's grappling and ground fighting techniques, teaches kids non-lethal escapes and defenses against grabs, chokes and attacks common in the school yard.

While the summer program focuses on jiu jitsu, the school also works in parts of tae kwon do, a stand-up striking style of martial arts, as taught by owner and head coach Cissy Styles.

"It's a good marriage with jiu jitsu and tae kwon do, because we do a lot of the hand escapes and choking escapes. Once you get to the ground, jiu jitsu helps to get out of the situations and get up off the ground and away," Styles said. "While martial arts are often seen as a method to harm others, the true nature is just the opposite."

Lusky says confidence is the ultimate goal of the programs.

"When the kids come and take martial arts, whatever brand, the goal isn't to train them to be a bully, it's to give them enough confidence that they don't have to fight," Lusky said.

"The goal really is to let them know that people in the community care. If bullying is a problem, talk to parents, talk to teachers, talk to their friends, it's not just them. It's a national epidemic," Lusky said.

For more information or to register, call (770) 318-8360.