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School Samurai teaches kids how to combat bullying

Many schools focus on preventing kids from bullying others in the first place. What they don’t teach is physical protection from bullies, and that’s where the School Samurai program comes in.

Jared Emfield is the instructor of the four-week course at The Academy of Martial Arts in Idaho Falls. He has children and spent time as a school teacher and administrator, so he knows bullying from both perspectives.

“What we do at this program is try to give the kids the tools to know what to do without hitting somebody back,” said Emfield. “But still feel like they’ve got something to put a stop to the bullying.”

Emfield teaches the children ages 5 to 14 to handle bullying verbally, but sometimes teachers aren’t around or things escalade quickly. So students learn the physical options like takedowns, pins and control holds.

Dallen Harris is one of 15 students who graduated from the program Wednesday night.

“In third grade I was bullied through the whole school year,” said Dallen. “People were calling me names and insulting me.”

He said he hasn’t had to use any of the moves yet, and he’ll use them as a last resort.

“If you just go at them, the bully will think you’re the one trying to bully them,” said Dallen.

All of the kids earned a certificate, medal and, most important, the confidence to combat bullying. Dallen’s mother, Jenny Harris, said she’s noticed a difference.

“He lacked confidence to start with and it’s definitely helped him with that,” said Jenny.

Emfield said he does plan to continue the program, and may have another course ready for enrollment within the next month.

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