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Tau's picture
Most Common Attacks Children Face

I'm looking to put together a series of set techniques to form the basis of a junior syllabus. I think these days we have a reasonable idea of the most common attack types adults are likely to face, but what of children?

I'm considering two attack scenarios:

1. from peers in the form of bullying in which of course may need to consider multiple attackers. But, what (single) attacks are most likely to be employed? I'm guess this will change with the age of the child

2. From adults in form of abduction or acts of abuse. In this case I think we're looking at grabs rather than strikes. Any more specific?

I'm sure several instructors on here have children's classes so I'm seeking your input from your experience on this. Despite teaching children for ten years I've never actually ascertainly any commonality to attacks. And yes, I've asked them!

JWT's picture

Hi Tau

I have a split syllabus for the first half of my syllabus, with the juniors learning the same techniques as the adults but in a different order.  Both syllabi are ordered according to commonality.

The immediate foci for my juniors (along with learning to hit the pads hard) is:

1. Protecting the head. Predominantly from slaps and round haymakers.

2. Headlock escapes.

3. Ball grabs/slaps.

5. Pre-emptive striking.

6. Pushes / shoves with escalation to push-punch.

7. Rear abduction escapes.

8. Head tapping / physical baiting responses.

9. Tackle / Barging defences.

10. Wall based defences.

11. Ground based defences.

This is based on the feedback I've had from the students about what they see and experience.  Their biggest cncern is peer violence.  I teach this to 11-13 year olds.  14 year olds go onto the adult syllabus instead.

Hope that helps


neil kenyon
neil kenyon's picture

Excellent thread, some thing i have thought of but never put into practice.

JWT's picture

I should perhaps clarify that the ball grabs/slaps are peers walking up and grabbing/palm slapping in school in the corridors or outside, not an adult on child concern.  I actually teach this as a close range low uppercut punch to  the groin (from a 30 cm chest to chest distance) and generally people get caught, but it's how you follow up and move that's important.

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

My 11 year old in year 7 told me about year 10's having fun slamming them against corridor walls.

Makes me seethe to be honest as he's not that tall and a 16 year old probably weighs twice as much.  If his brother's around he'll step in but the year 7's feel very vulnerable.  The school's anti bullying policy (I laugh as I type that) seems to just put offender and victim in the same category.


JWT's picture

Gary Chamberlain wrote:

My 11 year old in year 7 told me about year 10's having fun slamming them against corridor walls.

Makes me seethe to be honest as he's not that tall and a 16 year old probably weighs twice as much.  If his brother's around he'll step in but the year 7's feel very vulnerable.  The school's anti bullying policy (I laugh as I type that) seems to just put offender and victim in the same category.


Year 7 are particularly vulnerable, both in school and on the route to/from school.  In this respect the buses system that a lot of school use works quite well as the students tend to have older friends from the same streets/villages who are on the same buses so they have contact with a good cross section of the school which limits their vunerability.

I refused to take cash from a Year 9 student at an after school club a few weeks ago as I said that I could not be certain with cash that he hadn't just robbed a Year 7 in the changing rooms.  The tongue in cheek reply was 'Oh no, it's the toilets where we get the Year 7s'.

I try to put the Year 7 up against the older lads in armour  few times a term.  It gives them a more realistic idea of what can and can't be done against a bigger person than just wokring with each other.

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

He's settled a bit now as he's playing Rugby and some of the U12's he plays against are monsters.  He handles that just fine so a bit of jostling in the corridor doesn't bother him like it did.

But my wife's not happy.  

He was talking about wanting to punch one particular bully in the face.  I responded "No No No we don't want to be punching people", at which she smiled warmly.  Then my follow up of  "Use elbows if you're in close"  didn't get quite the same response.

It is a dilemma though for parents and for pupils.  I remember my own father telling me to smash people and my mother urging me to avoid trouble, so whichever way it went I knew I'd be disappointing one of them.  Now 45 years later I feel frustrated to be in a similar situation.


Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Yeah, Rugby toughend me up, got me used to taking knocks and it makes me laugh the aomuonts of scuffles on the Pitch between our team and the teams we plpayed when it got a little "heated"

I was always in the school with my daughter, she got into a few fights with girls AND boys, One Boy 2 years Older than her was one of the school bullies until my Daughter made him the "laughing stock of the school "being beaten up by a girl"

I always worked on the mawashi uke turn and double knee with her, shame she stopped training at Brown belt as I'm sure she would have done very well in the ladies Knockdown tournaments

rajma's picture

Mr. Chamberlain - I can very much identify with your frustration. When my youngest daughter was age 5 and started what we call kindergarten in the States, she ended up getting straight up attacked. She had taken an aisle seat on the school bus and was facing a friend in the seat when a year 5 male grabbed her, threw her down on to the aisle floor, then stomped on her several times. After that, he retreated to the back of the bus. She never saw it coming or had a chance. Thankfully, she wasn't seriously injured (very sore and a lot of bruising). It was frustrating on so many levels.

The most difficult was to NOT show up at the parent's front door.

I was most proud of how she handled it...while she was very quiet that day (that's how we ended up getting the story of what happened out of her, she's normally very bubbly), she didn't end up letting fear rule her and after a couple of days very matter-of-factly asked me what she could have done to protect herself in that situation. Having to have a situational awareness discussion with a five-year-old regarding their school bus ride I think ended up making me take a hard look at my naivete more than hers.

Th0mas's picture

Gosh Rajma, 5 years is soo young to have to have that discussion!

The difficult thing is that each child is different, my two sons are like chalk and cheese, the older of the two at 12 is a pacifist non-physical sports type, whilst his younger brother at 10 is Rugby mad, very physically confident and a little too big for his boots. Situational awareness disucssion take a different tact with each, whilst I try and bolst the self-confidence of one, I then have to tone it down with the other.. and that is just my sons, my eldest daughter is a total nightmare!! 

Anyway I think you showed great restraint, I hope it is all sorted now.



Dod's picture

A few points as a fellow parent of younger kids:  

Whilst 5 years old is very young I think that profound experiences even at that age can have a lasting effect on how they will react in situations.

I know my 5 and 7 year olds can pack a real punch on me and each other,  but I have seen them freezing somewhat in situations with kids they don’t know when they needed to be more assertive.  I remember this happening to me as a kid,   and I think this would be a key area to work on for kids self protection

I suppose we want them not to be timid,   but not to be bullies.  A lot of it will be luck as to the early situations they will encounter.  Hopefully experiences will be moderate so that they don’t become habitually scared when situations develop,  also when they are in a position of strength over another kid they don’t abuse it – as the resulting trouble or guilt could also constrain assertiveness in the future when they need it.

My coaching for them in that area is:  never hit a good boy (which they themselves follow up by stating it’s OK to hit a bad boy).  Also I say they should stand up straight and talk loudly back to bullies.  And if they touch then push them firmly – but I know it’s a lot easier said than done!

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

This is good stuff.

Sorry to hear of your daughters experience Rajma.

My oldest is a confident lad and never had a whisper of trouble.  On the one occasion he helped another lad who was getting a kicking he was given a detention.  Despite the fact it was happening in front of his eyes and his intervention helped, apparently he should not have responded physically but run 400yds to find a teacher ...

I thought this unjust so arranged a meeting with the head of year.  I patiently explained that the law of the land in relation to self-defence outweighs school rules or policies but he was having none of it.

Very confusing for the kids, especially those that have been taught about reasonable force.


Wastelander's picture

I mostly got shoved around, including into walls, and one time had my head shoved into a water pipe coming out of a wall. I was also a victim of the "ball slap" that JWT mentioned, as well as "pantsing" and tripping. Your typical bullying fare. There was one occasion, in elementary school, where I was surrounded by 6-10 kids (I can't remember precisely, at this point) who took turns jumping on my back and punching me until I fell down, and they kicked and punched me some more until they got bored. I was never faced with a one-on-one fighting situation, but I did see several of them--they were almost always either a push-punch attack or a grab-punch attack, which either devolved into windmilling punches or getting tangled up with each other and falling on the ground, at which point whoever was on top landed some punches and stood up to strut about it.

Outside of bullying, grabs and slaps to the face are probably the most common. Grabs, obviously, for kidnapping and restraining a child, and slaps for punishment by said kidnapper/restrainer. Unfortunately, children are limited in their options in these situations due to size and strength issues, but you still have a few things to work with that are much better than nothing.