Posted by: Pragmatic Mom | September 26, 2013

Bullying — What to do, from one concerned parent to another…

As a parent of three young kids, I’m just now living the life that parents of kids at my studio were when I founded my studio during my last year of college back in 1999.  At 22, I had experience teaching children martial arts and grew up practicing myself.  However, I didn’t quite understand the difficulties that parents faced with raising their own children — until now.  I now see  things through the eyes of a concerned parent rather than just a thoughtful and encouraging karate teacher to my students — same concern but different when it’s your own kids.

I have two daughters, one in Kindergarten and one in First Grade (I also have a son — I’d feel guilty if I didn’t mention my little boy, but he’s only 6 months old so the bully topic doesn’t apply just yet).  With regards to my daughters, however, they’ve recently come home to tell me about the boy bullies at their school — but the reality is that they are just the kids who get put in “timeout” and don’t follow the rules as they should — so no real bullying yet, thankfully.  But, the bullying topic is on the top of my mind after I heard a story of a good friend’s son getting a fat lip on the school bus last week.

I began thinking how I (as a parent) would have handled this situation.  I always discourage violence at all costs.  But, at the same time I would never tell my kids not to stand up for themselves either.  As a general rule, I tell my own kids and students that no one is allowed to put their hands on them.  In the event that someone pushed them or tried to hurt them I would encourage them to fight back accordingly.

At Giroux Bros. Martial Arts, we currently have a dedicated mat chat once per belt testing cycle on dealing with bullies.  The biggest message we teach our students is to avoid situations from escalating from the very beginning. We first teach them to try and handle it on their own with simple, but effective methods of standing up, avoiding, or befriending the bully depending on the situation. We also teach our students to stand up for their classmates in the event one of their friends falls victim to childhood cruelty.  The reality of it all is that if acted on early enough — no physical interaction should be necessary.

Now, keep in mind we’re talking about Kindergarten and 1st Grade.  The best picture I saw today was my friend’s son giving a “thumbs up” to his Mom in front of the school bus confronting the horrible fat lip experience from his first day of school.  Confronting his fear is a huge accomplishment at such a young age!

Actually, a great bi-product that comes from martial arts training is confidence. This mainly comes from earning new belts (achievement from short term goals with under belt testing working up to black belt).  The way that kids who train in martial arts carry themselves often differs from those who don’t. The reason being — self confidence.  Of course kids who are the star soccer player or the fastest swimmer share these same attributes, but the nice thing about karate is that it works on each individual vs. the entire team or star player.  It teaches everyone about working hard and achieving personal success — all while working in a group atmosphere and team environment.

kids in stance

Speaking from personal experience, I overcame some pretty major bullying issues (without violence thankfully) when I was in middle school.  After being asked to be part of a karate team traveling to Russia, my team was pictured (in uniforms and black belts) on the front page of the town newspaper.  Up until then only my close friends knew that I did karate and had a black belt.  But, after the paper came out everyone knew and just about every 8th grader wanted to see how tough a 7th grade black belt was.  It was a scary situation but fortunately I got out of it by one of the methods I teach my students and surprisingly without one fist being thrown.

The nice thing to know is that bullying can be conquered with the appropriate training and mindset. This school year, we are implementing a whole new bullyproof program as part of our curriculum.  It’s a program that came highly recommended to me from a good friend who owns a martial arts studio in Texas.

If anyone has any issues with bullying, please feel free to contact me.  Anyone (at any time) who is interested in checking out our program is always welcome to a free trial lesson.  Just give us a call at 617.641.2992 and we’ll set you up with a time. Or, you can email me directly at Steve@GirouxBrosMartialArts.com.

Thanks and best of luck to all the parents out there with the 2013/2014 school year!

Sincerely,

Steve Giroux

Owner / Parent / 7th Degree Black Belt

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That’s probably not a question that you hear regularly, but it’s one that I hear quite often.  And, I will tell you the answer that I tell all of the parents who’ve asked me over the years which is absolutely yes!  There are a number of reasons why martial arts training does indeed help children with improvement in many areas of their lives, but for the purpose of this blog — their academics.

I’m sure that your thinking, c’mon how can teaching my child to kick, punch, and block get him to do better on his spelling tests? Or, will she magically learn to master her multiplication facts because of her lessons in karate?  If I were a parent who had never been exposed to martial arts, I too would have my doubts.  But, I can tell you firsthand that martial arts practice does helps improve children’s grades because of three very important words — goal setting, focus, and self-confidence.

At Giroux Bros. Martial Arts in Newtonville, not only are we teaching personal protection and self-defense skills to our students but we are also teaching them valuable life skills typically not found in other sports and activities.  Karate for kids does much more than teaching a child to defend themselves.  Let’s take a look at the three words individually to see exactly how karate lessons might be able to benefit your child with improving his or her grades.

Goal Setting — One of the most important values students learn through martial arts training is how to set goals.  At Giroux Bros. Martial Arts in Newton the very first thing a student achieves is their white belt.  They earn it after taking a lesson and showing the instructor what they’ve learned.  The very first lesson in karate teaches them that they are rewarded for working hard, paying attention, and behaving.  The subsequent step is to make it to the next level after 2 months of classes.  They learn that they can earn the next belt based on the same principles.  If they miss class often, don’t try, or misbehave they can’t earn their belt.  They are learning at an early age that hard work pays off.  We encourage our students to use goal setting in every area of their lives, not just in karate.

Focus — Focus is a word that all of us wish our children had a lot of.  Focus is also something that children need to be taught.  Coincidentally, it’s our very first life skill topic for the 2012/2013 school year.  We want our students to understand how important it is to focus at school, during other activities, and at home.  We instruct them on how learning to focus will lead them to success.  In the martial arts, students learn how to focus by coming to attention, getting into ready stance, and listening to the different commands of their teacher. If they aren’t paying attention, they’ll be lost in the class and won’t be ready for their next belt test.  We also teach the students to look into the eyes of the person speaking.

Self-Confidence— Confident people work harder.  Individuals with low self-esteem tend not to want to work as hard. They feel as if they would probably just fail if they tried doing something anyway, so why bother?  Martial Arts builds confidence in students.  Not only do they feel better physically, but they learn that through hard work and commitment they’ll earn a new belt.  Testing happens every two months and they all work extremely hard to be able to earn the next belt eventually making it to black belt.  Relating belt testing to school often helps students understand and enjoy the process of working hard to achieve their academic goals as well.

In addition to all of the above we also do not promote students to the next belt level if they aren’t doing their best at school and home.  We use a clever tool called the “Intent to Promote” letter that parents have to sign off on before belt presentations.

If anyone has questions about anything I spoke about in this blog, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  I can be reached  via email at                                        Steve@GirouxBrosMartialArts.com or (617) 641-2992.

Your Friend,

Steve Giroux

Copyright © 2012 Steve Giroux.  All Rights Reserved.

Posted by: Pragmatic Mom | May 29, 2012

Relieve Symptoms of ADD and ADHD Without Medication

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So, the question is what really is ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)?  Do these disorders really exist, or are they just fancy terms for parents and teachers to use when labeling kids who have trouble focusing?  There is clearly a debate on the subject and even some Doctors who disagree that there is even such a thing.

My name is Steve Giroux. I’m the owner and head instructor at Giroux Bros. Martial Arts in Newtonville, Massachusetts. I’ve been teaching martial arts to children for over 22 years and let me tell you that ADD and ADHD does very much exist.  I don’t have an M.D. that follows my name, but what I do have is years of experience working with kids of all types of temperaments. The most popular ones, of course, are ADD and ADHD. Read More…

Posted by: Pragmatic Mom | January 31, 2012

We’ve Moved!

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We have moved near Newtonville Camera at 241 Walnut Street in Newtonville. Please come and check out our new space!

Posted by: Pragmatic Mom | January 31, 2012

Giroux Bros. Highlights – Triple Crown Karate Tournament 2010

Highlights of Giroux Bros. Martial Arts Students from MA Competing at the Krane Summer Tripple Crown Karate Tournament in RI on Sunday June 27th, 2010.

Posted by: Pragmatic Mom | January 31, 2012

Giroux Bros. Martial Arts: Cabot Fair Demo 2010

The Giroux Bros. Martial Arts Demo Team gave a performance during the “Cabot Fair” in Newtonville, Mass on Saturday June 5th 2010. This year’s Team was made up of students of all ages and Belt Ranks.

On July 17th, 2009 Giroux Bros’ EDT competed for the 2nd year in a row in the Demo Team Competition at Chuck Norris’ UFAF International Training Conference in Las Vegas. This year we went with an Epic Theatrical Theme. Congrats to The EDT on taking 1st place in a very close competition. This year’s team featured: Jerry Dwyer Jr, Grant Rheingold, Joseph Trask, Danny Sohmer, Henry Rolf, Ramin Mozghani, and Jennifer Dwyer.

Posted by: Pragmatic Mom | January 31, 2012

Steve Giroux – Wins Sparring Grands 2011

Steve Giroux wins Mens overall Sparring Grands for the 3rd time, and now for the 2nd consecutive year.

Posted by: Pragmatic Mom | January 31, 2012

Chun Kuk Do Championships 2010

Steve Giroux Wins Sparring Grands.

Posted by: Pragmatic Mom | January 31, 2012

Giroux Brothers Team Demo at Ocean State Grand Nationals 2011

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