Thursday, April 30, 2009

Racist Bully Gets Thrashed

A Canadian teenager was recently charged with assault after he punched a classmate from his school in the nose following racial taunts. The defendant, who emigrated from South Korea in 2004, has a black belt in an undisclosed martial-art style, and responded to being called a "f---ing Chinese" the best way he knew how.

The boy, a straight A student, was charged with assault after breaking his antagonist's nose and was immediately suspended from school. He may eventually be expelled. Meanwhile, hundreds of students skipped classes to rally against the treatment of the Korean youth. School administrators have yet to comment.

Are "fighting words" enough to make you lose it? Especially when a racial epithet is used, it must be excruciatingly difficult to back down. Fighting is fairly common amongst ninth-graders; have the school administrators gone too far in filing criminal charges? It could be argued the boy was acting in self defense. Sometimes, turning the other cheek is not the most appropriate action, but an invitation for more abuse.

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Blogger Dojo Rat said...

Man, the stuff I did in High School from 1973-77 would put me in Jail today.
It's too bad he didn't taunt the Bully into hitting first, with witnesses. Then he could have finished him off.
As trained martial artists, we have to be keenly aware of the legal envelope we must stay in until we can legally escallate in self-defense.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Charles James said...

It would seem that the youth was not trained properly in the martial art style by his Sifu or Sensei. I say this because he should have matured enough through training to understand that only he himself can be offended by what any one else may say to him. If his self-esteem were not low he would have ignored the comment completely.

If he understood that it may have been presented as a personal affront to him that in reality it was not personal. He should have been trained to understand that there are many ways to defend oneself "before" resorting to physical action. He should have been trained in these forms of self-defense where we "must" overcome our own ego's and fully understand that the problem actually resides with the other person.

He would have shown greater proficiency in the martial arts if he had turned the situation into something that would have deflated the other person so they just turned away and looked for someone else that is weak and vulnerable.

The youngster actually showed just how weak and vulnerable he was by allowing the taunt to cause a loss of control so the ego struck out physically. This is a shame and one of the major reasons I feel that persons who take martial art or fighting art training must be a minimum age and that they must receive the type of philosophical training necessary to understand we use karate or kung-fu only as a last resort.

This is also a result of the current trends and media push to such things as MMA and UFC, etc.

He was not trained properly and should suffer the consequences. I don't think he should be expelled but he must come to understand his mistake. I would go further and bring charges against his teacher because although the boy failed miserably his teacher failed totally and completely.

Nuff said :-)

12:57 PM  
Blogger Rick Matz said...

When Kushida Sensei's son was in high school, he was being relentlessly picked on by one of the football players. Akira managed to simply ignore him... until the football player tried to grab him by the shirt and pin him up against some lockers. Akira tied him in a knot and calmly explained to him that he didn't appreciate the way the football player had been behaving and asked him to stop, which he did.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While it's easy to say, "He should've done this instead" or "He wasn't trained properly", we're overlooking one thing: He is 15 years old. Age has a lot to do with his reaction, so I feel it is unfair to say he was improperly taught/trained.

And according to the article the other boy struck out first, so doesn't that mean he is also at fault?

2:44 PM  
Blogger BSM said...

Charles -

I have to respectfully disagree here.

The kid was hit first. As far as I'm concerned after that all bets are off. Especially after the racist slur.

In addition it's obvious he stopped after he broke the moron's nose. Given his training he really could have hurt the kid.

If he's trained in Tae Kwon Do what he did falls well within the art's tenets.


5:44 PM  
Blogger Charles James said...

Hi, BSMYou said, "The kid was hit first."

Ahhh, I clicked the link and it explained it further. The post left me thinking the kid was taunted and he hit him.

I stand corrected and of course this changes things a bit.

Yet, I still believe the black belt could have done something other than act out physically.

If he were trained correctly he could have avoided the confrontation completely.

Just because he was shoved and hit in the mouth does not allow him to hit back unless his life were in imminent danger.

He could have avoided the push and the punch. He could have decided to take the high road.


6:04 PM  
Blogger Cameron Spearman said...

We cannot sit here and say that the kid (let me emphasize that word "KID") was not properly trained, nor can we say he could've simply walked away. For one, we don't know all of the facts in this situation; all we know is the end result that the white kid pushed the Korean and called him an "(expletive) Chinese," and he wound up getting his nose broken after one punch. What we don't know is what may have happened before the final blow: this taunting could've been going on for a while before; this may not even been their first altercation.

Another point is the racial slur. As a minority myself, I can understand (but don't always condone) how racial insults can push someone over the edge, especially when combined with physical threats. While it's not the same, it's similar to insulting a man's wife to his face, or insulting a mother's children to her face. Not everyone can honestly say that they wouldn't react (physically or not) to that type of verbal abuse.

Could the kid have walked away? Of course, but how do we know if that would've stopped the abuse? As they say, hindsight is 20/20: it's easy to say what he "could've" done after the fact, but a lot of those things don't even come to mind in the heat of the moment.

In response to another comment post, why would charges need to be brought up against the instructor? The instructor can teach all the responsibility and "taking the high road" lessons in the world, but he/she can't make the student apply them, just like a coach can draw up the plays but he can't make the players execute the plays.

Final point....while it doesn't 100% justify his actions, the boy is 15 years old. At that age (I'm sure we'd all agree with this one) there really isn't a such thing as rational thought; it's hard enough for grown men to control testosterone, so why would we expect a teenager to be able to?

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Andy Fossett said...

Always a difficult call. As adults, we have a lot more experience and maturity to call on before we choose our actions. As others have mentioned, it's not something we can really judge.

Unfortunately, it is the school's responsibility to judge, and most schools are under tremendous pressure to make terrible choices in these cases.

Usually, the "winner" or first to strike is punished while the other party (often the instigator) gets labeled a victim. However, just because you don't strike first doesn't mean you don't intend to strike. This is called baiting - pushing someone's buttons until they lose control. Many of us have probably used similar strategies in tournaments, but more subtly.

Racial taunts are sticky too. On the one hand, they are simply words that reveal the ignorance of the user. But they're wrapped up in a lot of hate, and hate is definitely a form of violence.

Can a fifteen year old be wise enough to rise above such a tricky situation with grace? Yeah, but not all of them. Everyone has buttons and a lot of adults are no more mature.

It's always a sad situation when communications break down to the extent that violence ensures, but to my mind there is still such a thing as "appropriate" violence.

4:46 AM  
Anonymous said...

No one knows what the Korean lads experiences with bullies are.

For example, I am a Greek Cypriot who has grew up in England. I have faced raciscm through my school years and my experiences are that they start out as words but after a short time words become physical threats and then violence occurs where I have had no choice but to fight. Maybe he has faced the same and has use pre emptive striking to deal with the situation.

5:11 AM  
Anonymous Zolley said...

We can understand both the kid AND his bully, i.e. we can explain why they did what they did and how they got into that situation. If you are trained in psychology you can even understand how the nazis got to the point when they started blaming and killing jews, and you can even understand how a person blows up himself to kill many others.

The thing is, understanding doesn't make whatever they've done excusable. Obviously, there is a huge difference in the above examples in scale, but the principle is the same.

The bully might have been raised in an environment that encouraged his kind of behaviour in some way, and maybe he also has some tendency to behave agressively.

The kid is also 15 which is something that gives an understanding of why he reacted vehemently. He's also trained in a martial art, but he did not use his knowledge appropriately.

This is going to be my martial art's bias: Maybe he should have been trained differently, maybe he should have been taught more about how to resolve conflicts verbally and not so much "to only hit back with his left hand". But then again, I can understand why his father had taught him a martial art...

6:15 AM  
Blogger Sue C said...

I am responding to this post as the mother of a 15 year old son.

I have read the newspaper article and read all the previous comments and this is my view:

Making this a criminal matter is a complete over reaction. This was a playground spat between two 15yr olds and should have been dealt with internally by the school. Racial bullying cannot be tolerated but neither can physical violence so both boys should have received temporary suspensions whilst the case was investigated - this sends out a message to the rest of the school that this type of behaviour is seriously wrong and will not be tolerated.

I think the young Korean boy is a 15yr old boy first and black belt second. He cannot be expected to have the maturity of an adult black belt and so his martial arts training should not be held against him. Any 15yr old boy could just have easily broken a nose with one punch.

Making this a criminal matter will have long term consequences for the Korean lad who was clearly responding to a lot of provocation. I think both lads should receive some kind of punishment but from within the school.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Blackbeltmama said...

Things have really changed these days. When I taught high school a few years ago, any student in our school involved in a fight brought with it potential charges. Police were always brought in when there were issues.

This reminds me of something my instructor, Kyoshi Heilman always says. It goes something like, "Should your hand go forward, withhold your temper. Should your temper go forward, withhold your hand."

5:18 PM  
Blogger Wael in Panama said...

I did a lot of things as a kid and teenager that I regret. I was not good at staying within boundaries or even knowing where the boundaries were. As an adult I spent time in rough neighborhoods and difficult environments, including environments where being perceived as weak could be costly. I developed my own boundaries, which were my body and property. I ignored words, no matter what they were. But if someone touched me in an aggressive way or tried to take my property, it was a rumble. Soon people came to understand, both from my history and my bearing, that though I was quiet and did not respond to taunts, I was not weak. I am comfortable with these boundaries and make no apology for hurting anyone who crosses them.

11:50 PM  
Blogger BSM said...

Charles -

We'll have to agree to disagree.

First several people noted that neither of us have all the facts. We don't know if the kid tried to verbally de-escalate the situation or the history leading up to it.

You write that with proper training he could have avoided the situation. That's really hard to say because we don't know if he was cornered or if he felt threatened. Knowing bullies it's possible that the bully had pals with him. It's been my experience that morons tend to travel in herds.

As for avoiding the punch, well, even black belts can be hit with a sucker punch. Again we don't know all the facts.

I do think they probably both should have been suspended. Past that, coming from having been on the receiving end of many a bully (and losing) I have to side with the kid.


11:08 AM  

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