Wednesday, 18 July 2012


AS martial artists we all like to think that somehow the arts have made us better people.

We hear all of the time through magazines and publications such as Martial News how martial arts have changed this person or that one and led them to have more compassion, understanding and be more ethical as a human being.

And in the case of many people this may be true.

Yet there is a dark side that we rarely acknowledge in the cold light of day, a festering sore that has to be covered up and ignored.

And this is bullying...

Of course, in the past this type of behaviour used to be done face-to-face and quite often manifested itself in actual physical harm being done to another. And this still goes on with some instructors and students indulging in their base natures in dojos, gyms and kwoons at the detriment of others.

Nowadays it usually is often done through the keyboard and is aimed at those who are different (read – race, disability, sexuality or gender or even social class).

And likely or not it’s done on social networks such as Facebook or forums.

Yet if you were to accuse such people that they were bullies they’d throw their hands up claiming that it wasn’t true, that they were only exercising their right to free speech and the best of all “that it was only a bit of harmless fun”.

But it’s not a bit of harmless fun and can have serious repercussions. We have all read in national and regional newspapers of boys, girls and young women who have killed themselves because this abhorrent behaviour has got to the point where their lives have been devastated by the constant harassment.

And for every person who ends their lives because of these malignant acts there are countless others who end up scarred for life mentally ending up with low-self-esteem and depression and other mental problems.

Now I’m not casting myself as some Snow White, some holier-than-thou moral creature who is without “sin”. We have all done things as children, young adults or even as grown-ups that in the cold light of day are just simply wrong. I guess that’s because I’m a human being with all the foibles, stupidities, and frailties of ego that we all carry around with us. I was, as a teenager, always getting into fights...but one hopes, as you grow older, you recognise your own stupidities and least attempt to change and grow.

And sometimes we do things which we think is nothing more than a bit of harmless fun – and maybe that was the intention – but to those on the receiving end it can seem the cruellest twist of a barbed knife.

That can be forgiven as there was no malicious intent and when such things are pointed out as having a negative impact on another, the person doing the act quickly realises this and are quite horrified. To err is to be human to forgive is divine...

But when individuals or groups of people take every opportunity to put another person down, try and destroy their reputation and cause mischief to them at every turn then that is nothing more than bullying of the most debased kind.

And what strikes me the most in these cases is that the people concerned cannot see how they appear to others. They are so consumed with hatred for their victim that they don’t see how they look to the rest of us...

Every action we do is a mirror of our self, a reflection of our personalities and how we appear to those around us. If you are an aggressive person you are perceived to be an aggressive person by those who come in contact with you, if you are a happy-go-lucky type then everyone views you as a happy person, and if you bully others then you are seen as a bully. Or to put it another way: if it waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck.

Now, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have criticism for making mistakes – who hasn’t made mistakes – and as long as that criticism is a true critique that is being done to help that person grow and develop then that is a good thing. A rounded person will take that on board and use it to their advantage and strive to make sure any mistakes in the future are kept to a minimum.

But that is a different thing from consistently pouring bile and derision on someone for little reason than you don’t like them, have fallen out with them or are simply jealous because they get attention while you do not (how pathetic is that).

If you indulge in such behaviour then you are simply a bully and the world sees you for what you really are. People are not stupid and the vast silent majority of us simply do not like this behaviour and frankly look at you with the contempt you truly deserve.

Treat others how you would want to be treated yourself.

And if you cannot respect another person then at least show some respect for yourself – you are what you project out to the wider world and you are labelled accordingly by all those who see your acts.

Look in the mirror...

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