The Reality Of Children’s Self Defense

        So many Taekwondo schools teach self defense to children and advertise things like “bully prevention” and “stranger danger.” They make money off of claiming that the children who train there will learn valuable self defense techniques. Most techniques taught to children are unrealistic and silly and done half assed in order to allow the kid to pass to the next rank or get a stripe on their belt. Basically, a child just has to learn a movement then he or she ranks up. Most of these techniques are incredibly ridiculous and stupid. Some of them range from flashy super power ranger style moves where the adults pretend they are hurt and fly back, or they range from the teachers who think they are teaching something really innovative and true for a child to use for self defense. The following are some examples of very stupid and unrealistic techniques taught to kids by various martial arts teachers that will get a child killed or kidnapped anyway because the moves will not work.

The instructor who thinks he is teaching innovating and important serious techniques:

This is just fluff. Memorizing words to use is pointless. The girl even had a problem remembering what words to use. This is just stuff used to puff up a set of curriculum. It makes kids memorize pointless things to pass tests for belt stripes or their next belt level. This is just to make it seem like what the child is learning is really deep or complex. realistically, all a kid needs to be told is to scream and tell the guy to stop, and tell anyone near them that the guy is trying to kidnap them or they don’t know him. What a child needs to remember to say are the basic ideas of what bad thing is happening to them, and to express what is going on to any bystanders. That is all a kid needs to know. Not special phrases. The instructor goes on about words and weapons we use blah blah…he is being an egghead over the simplest concept any child can understand. The technique itself is also very ineffective. The girl in the video footage they used was not even trained in martial arts. She just used common sense and got out of the pedophile’s hold. The instructor demonstrated a hold where a pedophile, rapist pervert would hold a kid with one hand over the mouth and the other around her waist. He tells the girl to kick backwards, duck her head down and headbutt backwards and to then drive her hips out and the bad guy would just drop her. That is unrealistic and would never play out that easy. The girl in the video got loose simply by struggling like crazy and the bad guy dropped her out of fear other people at Walmart might hear her and see him more than her struggling. If someone was abducted anywhere that is not Walmart or not around many people simply driving a foot back is not going to work. Notice the instructor himself has very long legs which means he has a very high crotch. She could not hit his testicles that hard from such a backward ankle kick. Yes, it could hurt but in previous articles on this blog it has already been proven a “nut shot” is not a guaranteed fight ender. Yes it does help, and is good to know, but more needs to be done. The girl should actually immediately grab the attacker’s hand over her mouth and work on it at the same time as kicking back. Don’t just leave the arms limp! Work the fingers to try and break and pull joints, bite them etc. Loosen her mouth to be able to scream and yell for help. Also, a headbutt might actually hurt the child more than the adult if she hits a hard part of his face and not the nose. The back of the head has sensitive nerves that can short circuit the brain and cause a shake up, or possibly a knockout. A child does not have a big enough head or a powerful enough strike because they are not strong enough and are too small. The hip out thing was okay but there are various ways to lower the center of gravity. She should have been twisting and turning, and using downward backfists or knifehands to the balls. The worst part of this child anti-abduction technique was the fact after the bad guy lets her loose she then turns toward him and begins to attack him. HOW STUPID! Such weak kicks, short elbows not long enough to reach a vital target and “Stranger! Stranger! This person’s trying to take me! No! No! No!” was a memorized line. And the way she said it was nonchalant. No child would remember to say that in such stress. It’s why it’s best to tell them to just communicate the idea of the negative action that is occurring towards them to people around them. They can come up with their own words. The punches would not hurt a grown adult either and would allow the attacker to easily grab her wrists and pick her up again. The pedophile would then proceed to just punch her in the face and take her anyway.

Idiotic children’s self defense techniques taught by none other than the American Taekwondo Association (ATA):

Sorry that “warrior face” is not going to stop an adult trying to kidnap a child. This is some ridiculous, hyper nonsense from typical mcdojangs like the ATA. Having kids spazz out and overreact to bullies and other nonsense. If you literally went to look for a job with a “warrior face” and acted that stupid and spazzed out, you would never get hired. Also, such attitudes instill false security in kids who are conditioned to think bullies act a certain way and adult kidnappers act the way they demonstrated as well. In the real world when the kids find out their spazztic “warrior faces” do not scare anyone, but makes them just look incredibly idiotic to other kids they will be utterly defeated and bullies will be more encouraged the bully them for being dorks. All the pop psychology teaching of being assertive, and self esteem does not mean crap when a pedophile rapist is trying to kidnap a child. Saying “Yes I can!” Won’t save a child from a full grown adult. The technique they teach for getting out of a hold just looks like kids waving their hands around grasping at nothing. Then of course to keep their self esteem up the adult “black belts” just casually drop the kid softly onto the floor so they can walk off. IT WILL NOT HAPPEN THAT WAY! The instructor even admits that the chances of escape are very slim. He then ironically states that kids screaming may look to others just like a bratty kid, and not one who is in danger, yet they teach the kids to scream and act bratty with crazy “warrior faces” and yelling. Then the instructor teaches the kids to grab the attacker’s leg and hang on it and calls it a “ball and chain.” So stupid! Why would you tell a child to do that! Once a child escapes he should run and get away as fast as he can. Not grab the leg and hang on the attacker. Sorry, but the idea that the child will slow the attacker down so he cannot get away is absolutely false. I can have a child attached onto my leg and walk as fast as I can and even run, I could even run into a car and take him away. The attacker would not find the child easy to throw off his leg either with any shaking of the leg and strikes. He would then pick the kid back up and take off. The point for children and self defense against adults is to ESCAPE AND STAY GONE! Not go back and hit or grab the leg for a ride. So stupid!

Then there is the typical “kid beats up adult” demo that so many mcdojangs use which are basically cheesy fight scenes:

This kind of demo is the silly “kid beats up an adult” demo. What mcdojangs do and have for decades is use their “superstar,” enthusiastic, acrobatic kid to do cool flips and spin kicks on some adult who just flops around and pretends to be beat up with the most fantastic and crazy moves. This kind of show is pointless and has nothing of value to teach children for self defense and tells the outsider that “your kid can learn to fight adults like this!” to ignorant people.


The following video is more likely how a real child self defense scenario against an adult will go down for the typical child student.

This is a good video that shows the truth. Notice the young student could not get out of the hold under pressure. But doing the move itself is fine, but when there is real resistance he could not do it. That is the reality. The technique is more plausible and realistic as well, the student just needs to practice at it more and he will get it down better.

        An instructor of martial arts has a duty to teach realistic self defense for people including children! Do not claim something is going to work or give the assumption it is flaw free or a smart technique unless it really is! Train the children! Train! Train! Over and over with resistance and pressure. Over time the student will learn. Make sure it is done with a serious mindset and not mindless yelling and spazzy behavior, and make sure when the kid gets free he gets away! Not re-engage the adult attacker. Instructors are partly responsible for a child either escaping an attacker and getting free by teaching them an effective martial art, or being kidnapped when using faulty martial arts techniques their instructor taught them. Taekwondo instructors need to teach with realism and not make anything simply easy for a child to pass a test to get some stripe of tape on his belt, or get a new belt color rank! If money is all you care about and you are eager to charge partents belt fees, pre-testing tape on the belt fees and other nonsense then you are a dangerous instructor that parents should avoid! It is the martial arts instructor’s responsibility to teach effective techniques to help kids save their own lives and I personally will not allow bad ideas in my curriculum.


White Dragon is a 3rd dan Taekwondo Black Belt with over 19 years experience in the Martial Arts and head instructor of the White Dragon Dojang Martial Arts Training Program. 

  1. Grey Wolf says:

    I teach my kids not to re-engage the attacker. They don’t understand that they can’t fight someone bigger than them at their age. They always ask me why. And I tell them it’s because anyone bigger than them can easily just grab them and pick them up and take them away no problem. Really it’s unlikely that for the littler ones much of anything by screaming will work.

  2. Nothing is more harmful to the world than a martial art that is not effective in actual self-defense.” Choki Motobu (1870-1944)

    Choki Motobu might not appear in Taekwondo`s lineage but he sure had lots of great things to share that we can draw from. Children self defense is an overlooked aspect of teaching children and it is filled with political and moral motives that makes it more difficult than teaching grown ups self defense.

    I could not believe the second video about the ATA self defense for children. Many Things that are taught to children will not work against an adult but will work on other children (so they can be used against bullies), but the Things presented in that Clip did not even work against other children. If you look at it both “attackers” simply let go and let the other child “win”.

    The last Clip was a lot better allthough I have to admit I only wathced around half. The child there had workable skills. The first hold demonstrated did not work against an adult (which is to be expected) but I think it would Work just fine against other children even if they are a little bigger and older. The child did know how to make it work against an adult and showed great adaptability with what I was taught as “distraction techniques” or “universal keys”. Not sure if you have the term universal keys but they are keys that open just about all Locks. Likewise techniques that stun and suprises an adult like striking a vital target (could range from kicking the shin to slapping the groin etc) will make the following technique easier to apply.

    • White Dragon says:

      Which clip exactly were you referring to where the child had workable skills?

      Any martial artist who has good things to say and has done something to further martial arts as a whole is respectable by me. Not only Taekwondo masters. And that quote is so true! thanks for sharing it.

      • The best skills were demonstrated in the last Clip of Your post. The other two were “less than optimal” (I am feeling diplomatic today) 🙂

      • White Dragon says:

        Oh ok. The last video is me and my student and I am demonstrating the fact kids cannot learn half assed techniques to earn a stripe, and most often kids cannot actually use moves they learn to defend themselves. I am showing how adults are strong and will not just let a kid go. But my student was doing the movements of an effective technique that WOULD work after a lot of practice over and over.

  3. Meyer says:

    The first time I ever got in a real fight I was 11. I had just started taekwondo, but my dojang teaches the real deal. And as far as self defense goes, we also teach the real deal. And so, little Meyer got in trouble because he used a bully’s (who was a grade higher and much bigger than him) own hair to slam him into a bathroom sink and run away.

    I plan on teaching my kids to fight, but it aggravates me the rules they place on kids these days. In my hometown schools if you strike back before being struck less than twice (actually struck, not parrying two blows) you get in just as much trouble as your aggressor. Something is wrong with this country.

    Btw, if the amount of commenting I’m doing is annoying, let me know. I’m just bored and stuck on a night shift 2000 miles from my wife with nothing to do besides lift weights and practice my forms.

    • White Dragon says:

      Yes the rules are stupid we have today. It is the bleeding hearts and PC minded idiots who have ruined our great country and pussified men. Allowing yourself to get hit 2 times is stupid and undignified and dangerous. I would remove my kids from that school. I also want to home school my kids. I dont have any kids.

  4. dobokdude says:

    Hello. I actually told my instructor (the one that acts like taekwondo is only a sport) about the techniques you showed and he said that wouldn’t do anything and that once an adult picks up a kid he’s gone and he hopes none of his students have to go through that.

    I honestly don’t believe him. I’m only training there to gain rank and i am cross-training at the local PAL in their Kajukenbo program with the strikes and self defense techniques and the sparring part is kickboxing. Also he said you don’t really need to know defense against weapons unless you hang out with people who are into crime and stuff(i.e. gang members, etc) clearly that isn’t the case as even people who avoid such people can be attacked.

    In fact it seems many martial arts instructors don’t address the necessary techniques because of this ”wishful thinking” mentality. But as I read on and I quote, “Neglecting any range of combat is ignorance because wishful thinking will not stop combat for going to that range. Many instructors tell students to simply not go to that range but an opponent can eventually pick up a students weakness”.

    But good points from you and also one of the kids in the ATA vid had like 5 stripes on his belt.
    Also I am very lucky because early on I almost joined the ATA.

    • White Dragon says:

      Good thing you didn’t join the ATA!!

      Yes you are correct and your instructor is simply compensating for his lack of knowledge.

      Weapon defense has always been a part of Taekwondo since the early days in much the same way it has always been part of Japanese Karate. There are early videos of Funikoshi of SHotokan Karate doing weapons efenses against sticks, knives and guns. Pretty much all Koreans in the 1950’s in the KTA were doing Karate and also knew similar techniques and had them incorporated into their kwans.

      Also my child self defense video is not 100% going to save anyone’s life. It is simply an option, a way to fight back. Hopefully a child can escape or cause enough noise and disturbance to the pedophile pervert that he will drop the kid and run. Scratches, elbows to the face and kicking when grabbed can cause annoyances and pain to an attacker. It can work and of course you need practice.

      Kidnappers attack various ages, not just 3 year olds. Even a 12 year old girl could get attacked and similar defenses could work. My video was simply to show how stupid so many gyms teach child self defense and how much of a joke it is. The illogicality of so many instructors astounds me.

  5. dobokdude says:

    Here’s the actual quotes:
    Importance of Cross-Training

    There are many different types of combat that need attention in order to become a well rounded martial artist. These are kicking, boxing, clinching, throws, takedowns, grappling and submissions. Some schools might rule out a particular range of combat, telling students not to go to that range. This should be a big red flag. Combat is unpredictable, and wishful thinking will do nothing to stop a fight from going to that level. Neglecting any range of combat is ignorance. A system that completely avoids any range of combat will teach its students very one-dimensional skills. An experienced adversary will be able to sense their opponent’s weakness, and take them out of their game to a range of combat where they are helpless.

    Just because a school’s style typically focuses on one specific range, it shouldn’t stop them from incorporating other styles into their curriculum. For example: A Tae Kwon Do School could incorporate Judo, a Jiu Jitsu school could incorporate kickboxing, or a Boxing school could incorporate Wrestling. Incorporating additional styles so that all ranges are addressed will make an otherwise limited system more complete. When it comes to martial arts, variety is truly the spice of life. Look for open minded instructors that can help fill your bag of tricks, or risk being trained as a one-trick pony.

    We would recommend a teacher who has extensive experience, and if possible, a competition record in a full contact martial art, who teaches classes instead of primarily serving as salesman-in-chief. Who rolls with his students while grappling. Who prefers to be called coach to grand master. Who is level headed and does not tell ‘black belt fables’. Who is grown up enough to have decent people skills, not just sales skills. Who explains his fee structure clearly. Who does not look like he’s assembling a cult of personality. Who is not overtly paranoid, but who has experience with the way criminals actually function (Law Enforcement Officers usually have such credentials).

    • White Dragon says:

      I agree with most of that except a few things. Being called grandmaster or master is not a bad thing in itself. But forcing the name “master” on everyone is silly. But Asian martial arts come from a different culture with a lot of discipline, respect, and honor given to seniors. I have absolutely no problem for a Korean high ranking black belt such as 4thj-9th being called master or grandmaster. It is respec and teached students to understand how to respect and revere older people, more accomplished people in a field and more that translates to life skills. Even the military has structured hierarchy like that. If you have a boss in your job you should call him sir and show respect and be a good employee etc. Taekwondo is also this way. It should only be given to those who have earned it and deserve such a title. It is not an ego thing if the person has integrity. A coach in Taekwondo is usually a master instructor but I personally am not 4th dan so I go by the terms “teacher,” “instructor,” and “coach.” But if I am 4th or higher people will probably call me “master so-and-so.” I called all of my instructors that as well including “grandmaster” to one.

      I agree that a martial art should have some curriculum in every range of fighting, but still a martial art style is a specialized skill and schools should be specialized in a certain area and focus mainly on it. But also you should develop ground defenses and things like that. YOu do not even have to have a BJJ program, just call it Taekwondo and borrow techniques. Old style Taekwondo literally came from Karate, Judo and Bajiquan.

      I agree the instructor should always be teaching and not sit in his office all day. But he doesn’t have to teach very dang class either…he could have success and have instructors under him. But he should still be teaching a lot unless he is very old and no longer has such energy.

      Also I understand about black belt fables and fake legends, but some stories are true and the true ones are good to teach from time to time.

      Oh and many law enforcement officers” cannot fight worth crap. But they may know criminal behavior but they have horrible combat skills besides handcuffing etc. How many cops have you seen who are so fat? Of course a lot are in shape too.
      Also, one does not need to be a cop to know criminal behaviors. Just study it or research it and ask cops questions.

      I also disagree that someone HAS to have a combat competition record of full contact. Not true. A lot of good martial artists do not fight in MMA or Kickboxing. Many have studied their own sports and also sparred in their dojo. It is possible someone has sparred a lot in the dojo but does not have an interest to compete in an MMA type sport. Also is Judo full contact? No. It has no impact, except the floor. BJJ has no striking either. They do not have to compete in MMA in order to be effective.
      Also Taekwondo is a full contact sport, does it count? A lot of tough TAekwondo guys have competeed in olmpic taekwondo rules and also are good at self defense. Nobody needs a record to be a good martial arts teacher. It can help and benefit them, but simply in school training can be good enough.

  6. dobokdude says:

    Oh ok I really was just trying to show you the part about wishful thinking not the other stuff.

  7. LucyJane says:

    I have to agree with your truth telling. I do think the continual use of pejorative terms (stupid, idiots, etc..) reduces your credibility and cheapens the article.

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