Oklahoma City News, Entertainment & Occasional Humor • Established 2007

Some lady is teaching kids how to fight bullies with words

When I was a 7th grader at Western Oaks, there was this mean scary kid in one of my classes named Cody. He was the typical middle school bully. He was bigger and older than everyone because he was stupid and flunked 4th grade. He smoked cigarettes and rode an old beat up bike. And every now and then before class started, he would randomly punch me or my friend Wes while we set in our desks and the teacher stood in the hallway.

Finally, one day Wes snapped and stood up to Cody. Wes, in a very angry 7th grade voice, said something like “I’m getting tired of you picking on us. You better stop…or else.” Surprisingly enough, Cody left us alone after that. Then, to make things better, a few days later he showed up to class crying because he learned he had to move away to live with his abusive father. It was awesome. I don’t know what happened to Cody, but I hope his life sucks and that he enjoys prison.

The reason I bring that up is because bullying is an inconvenient, yet somewhat necessary, part of growing up. Everyone has dealt with it in some form, and unless you’re really fragile or just weird, you learn from the experience and grow from it. For example, the Cody experience is a big reason why I only hangout with people who can protect me in a fight.

Anyway, now a Norman martial arts instructor is teaching kids how to deal with bullies with proper way…with karate!!! Wait, that’s not true. She’s teaching them something called “Verbal Judo.” From News 9:

Vision Martial Arts Academy in Norman teaches people of all ages self-defense. But the owner, Amber LaValley, has taken it a step further with her younger students, teaching them skills to fight back against bullies. Her technique, however, isn’t with kicks and hits, but with words.

“Most people say when you’re being bullied, just ignore the person which unfortunately may not always work,” said Amber LaValley, owner of Vision Martial Arts Academy. “So, we are offering suggestions to the kids on how to keep their calm and how to verbally diffuse the situation without having to ignore it and internalize what they’re feeling.”

It’s called Verbal Judo, where students use a series of word blocks to diffuse a confrontation with a bully. The words are sometimes humorous or apologetic, whatever it takes to stop a verbal confrontation from escalating to violence.

“They called me stupid,” said Jackson Blaylock, a 4th grader in LaValley’s class.

Blaylock said he was with some friends when he was called names. Instead of returning the name calling, he said used what he learned in class.

“I knew it was going to work, but I was still kind of nervous,” said Blaylock.

Saif Salim, also a 4th grader said he had the same success.

“I was once called stupid,” said Salim. “I used an apologetic word block and told them ‘I’m sorry, I understand you don’t like me, but could we not talk to each other or make a compromise?'”

Salim said his bully never bothered him again.

Yeah, I don’t know about this. I’m all for teaching kids how to stand up to bullies, but this is just wrong. Call me old school, but I still think the best way to deal with bullies is to learn Karate from an old Asian man who makes custom bonsai trees in his backyard. That’s what Clark Matthews did and look at him now.

If you are going to teach something as sissy’ish as “Verbal Judo,” at least give the kids something good to say. Don’t tell them to mutter a phrase like “I’m sorry, I understand you don’t like me, but could we not talk to each other or make a compromise?” That’s nothing but a invitation for an after school swirly and the nickname Douche Czar. Teach the kids to say “If you don’t leave me alone, I’m going to follow you around the cafeteria and drool like your retarded sister” or “I understand you don’t like me, but then again, I’m only a 12-year-old boy. You won’t like kids like me until you become a gay pedophile.” That will get a bully to leave you alone.

In fact, maybe I should volunteer to teach the class. I think it would be kind of fun, plus I’m pretty good at talking my way out of trouble. For example, I was able to meet Dave Morris’s angry hot wife at VZDs and didn’t get my ass kicked. Granted, I told her I would publish some photos of Dave Morris’ peeing while setting down if she wasn’t nice, but a little white lie has never hurt anyone.


  1. I’m sorry to have to be confrontational with you Patrick, but you sound a little “Traber-ish” in this one…… It wouldn’t surprise me at all to hear him quoting you this afternoon on his little radio show!

    (and BTW, I would think the adult, karmic neutral response would be to feel sorry for Cody the bully whose life probably did and probably does still suck)

  2. If I were a bully as a kid and some kid said something that gay(not that theres anything wrong with it) i would have immediately punched him. The fact is, its very difficult to say something somewhat intelligent to a dumb ass. I cant see how that has ever worked.

  3. Verbal Judo will not deflect the knuckle sandwich to the nose or provide a snorkel for the post-PE swirly. Making friends with the biggest kid in the 5th grade will. I don’t believe you’re dealing with a person who has some sense of compassion or reason in the 1st place. Try distracting him with a bright, shiny object.

  4. Everyone sounds like a bunch of cavemen in here. “I’d punch him.” “This doesn’t diffuse anything.” But my question for all the intellectual minds here is, would you want your child to hit someone if they just could confuse them by asking them politely to shut the hell up? This is ingenious! As for Verbal Judo not providing protection from a knuckle sandwich… did you miss that this lady owns a martial arts school? I’d hope she’s also teaching self defense in there. She’s only 21! She’s got to be doing something right.

  5. Hey Patrick,

    I enjoyed reading your post about bullying… I know bullying can be very traumatic to children and am very happy to see that parents have a new option to lower the chances that their children have a little bit of training when that bullying does occur.

    No one likes a bully and I applaud Amber LaValley for what she is doing locally.

  6. Mom of 3 is absolutely right. I told my five year old son that if an kid is “mean” to him or hurts him to just straight up kick him in the goddamn nuts. End of story. Maybe these verbal judo warriors can all play sports at the YMCA where they don’t keep score and everybody wins. This is what hipsters do in their ridiculous kickball leagues. Need I say more?

  7. The only way I was able to reason with my bully in the 8th grade was to swiftly deliver an algebra book to his face, knocking him over two desks. He never bothered me again.

    I wish I would have done it 5 years earlier.

  8. Waa Waa.

    While you’re at it, why don’t you just ask him if you can do his homework for him and pay for his school lunch every day?


  9. After dealing with a bully calling him names for weeks and me telling my son to “just ignore him and he’ll get bored and leave you alone” my 3rd grade son finally got through to me saying “but, mom…it’s been so long and he won’t leave me alone”. My son was big for his age, but timid. After a brief pause and seeing a look of helplessness in my son’s eyes I said, “Next time he says something to you, you hit him and don’t hold back. You hit him hard. That’s an order. I’ll stand behind you.” HE DID IT!!! He came home beaming and feeling so good about himself. That timid look was gone. Of course I heard from the teacher and guess what? She applauded my advice. I was shocked, but she told me that this “bully” was an abused kid and she tried everything to get him to leave my son alone short of calling the bully’s parents. She told me she knew the boy would be in serious (abusive type) trouble if she had called his father. The “bully” and my son ended up on speaking terms, not fast friends, but okay and I know that standing up for himself in that early challenge was a major development moment for my son. He never had to deal with a bully again. I think something changes in the way you carry yourself once you realize you don’t have to be a victim.

    Sometimes, just sometimes, actions speak louder than words.

    P.S. My son is now 20 years old and a confident yet compassionate young man.

  10. Those kids deserve an ass kicking if they use words like that. I would stuff Salim in his own locker. Bullying is a right of passage in childhood.

  11. words are meaningless unless you have action behind them. mom of 3 is correct. shylioness offered the best advice.

    i received shylioness-like advice from parents, acted on it, and my bully (and other potential bullies) left me alone.

  12. I was small for my age and got picked on until I started punching bullies in the mouth the second they started. It’s how I was raised and how my children will be raised. My kids will begin MMA training as soon as they are old enough. Nothing shuts up a bully faster than missing teeth.

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