INDIANAPOLIS — Even though he’s long since graduated from high school and college, Jordan Brown says he still remembers seeing classmates become victims of harassment and even physical violence for no reason at all.
Brown, now 27 and now a resident of Plainfield, is doing what he can to see that others don’t have the same memories.
He opened a martial arts facility on the westside of Indianapolis called The Way. This past Saturday he held the club’s first ever Bullying Prevention Seminar in conjunction with Angels and Doves, a nationwide bullying prevention awareness group.
Brown earned his first black belt in karate at the age of 13. He’s been practicing martial arts for 16 years and has been teaching for 14.
He wants his dojo to be about more than just teaching martial arts. He’s hoping to help students gather self confidence.
“Bullying is something that’s running really rampant in schools,” he said. “You don’t realize how much bullying is going on, the mental and social aspects of it, and now cyber bullying as well. I don’t even think kids realize it’s bullying all the time. Sometimes if you just poke at someone or say something you don’t realize, it’s tormenting that other person.”
Brown said he routinely hears from parents who have trouble dealing with children bullying each other in school.
“When I was in high school and younger, I didn’t have an issue with bullying since I’d been doing martial arts since 11,” Brown said. “It gives you a confidence you can’t get anywhere else where you’re comfortable with who you are, what you know, and what you do. Whether you’re being antagonized or someone’s trying to abuse you, there’s a problem in that the weaker person often doesn’t have the confidence.
“I didn’t have that issue because I had quite a bit of confidence. I knew what I could do if a situation arises. I was never in a fight in high school or junior high and I was not a big kid at all — 5 feet 10 inches tall and maybe 135 pounds when I graduated. The thing was, people just really didn’t know what’d happen if they were to actually provoke me.”
But Brown says it’s not the fighting or physical aspect of martial arts that helped him, it was the confidence aspect of it, and that’s what he hopes to share with his students.
“In the classes we focus on a wide array of things from overall self confidence, self control, to the more physical aspects of competition,” he said. “I did see some other kids that got bullied in high school. You saw that regularly. I’m not really for that at all. I can’t really stand to think about it. So I want to be able to give kids the tools and the confidence in themselves that even if something happens, they can rise above that. And there’s also the fact that if someone else is getting bullied, you don’t need to sit there and watch it. You can do something too. Kids are afraid to step up and say ‘this isn’t cool’ and take charge in that aspect of it. I saw others when I could have stepped up and said something to the bully and I didn’t. I regret that quite a bit and went back and apologized to those kids.”
Brown says bullying has intensified over the past 15 or so years, mostly because of the advances in technology that allow for another way to torment and around-the-clock access to victims.
“That’s why I want to get the word out about bullying,” he said. “Let’s keep kids as safe as can be. A lot of kids stay home from school because they don’t feel safe going. It’s an epidemic in schools.”
The Way Martial Arts is in the upstairs portion of Life Church, 9101 W. 10th St. For more information, visit the website at www.thewayma.com.