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Stranger Danger: Abduction Prevention with Children’s Martial Arts


Child abduction is a serious concern and a parent’s worst nightmare. Children’s marital arts classes have the unique capability of heightening awareness of the issue and establishing preventative protocol.

Recent Kidnapping Attempts

Recently in the small community of Ewa Beach on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, there were multiple kidnapping attempts reported. This has put the whole community on alert and raised concerns for parents around the islands.

During the same week an elementary school in Keller, Texas also reported an abduction attempt. This event was followed by one in New Marlborough, Massachusetts and an additional attempt in Louisville, Georgia.

Abduction Prevention Focused Training

The kid’s class instructors at Relson Gracie Waterfront Jiu Jitsu in Honolulu, Hawaii took this opportunity to focus the day’s lesson on how to identify potential threats and address what a child should do if approached or grabbed by a stranger.

photo 4The Relson Gracie BJJ curriculum is based on the principals of self-defense and to progress through the ranks students must meet the standards of these techniques.

Basic moves drilled by the students included escaping from a grip on their wrist, arm or sleeve and getting away from an attacker approaching from the rear. These techniques were practiced by the students on each other and then on the adults to ensure the confidence to execute the movements on larger attackers. Instructors also discussed how to prevent high-risk situations and encouraged students to shout for help and leave the area as fast as possible (sprint like they were being chased in the warm up drills).

The instructors also encouraged parents to take an active roll in their child’s self-defense learning by re-visiting the techniques at home and talking to their children about potential dangers in their area.

Preventative Measures for Parents

Some suggestions to help keep kids safe from situations conducive to kidnapping include:

  1. Having a code word that anyone picking up or engaging in activities with the child must know in order for the child to obey their instructions without a parent present. This is important in a situation where a child may need to be picked up from school or practice by someone other than his or her guardian.
  2. Do not dress children in clothing with their name on it. Addressing the child by name makes the child less likely to identify the person as a threat.
  3. Do not allow children to play or travel unsupervised. Even older children who may be responsible enough for solo activities are safer if they are with a group of friends.
  4. Enroll them in martial arts classes to learn self-defense and promote confidence.photo 1-2

Relson Gracie Waterfront BJJ is not the first martial arts school to recognize the importance of self-defense and abduction prevention during the growth of their students. Across the nation schools of all disciplines are hosting seminars and specialized classes to ensure the safety of their youth.

Optimal Learning Environment

The concept of training for abduction situations is uniquely effective in the marital arts setting because children are already walking in to the school with the mind set that they will be learning techniques to defend and/or attack. This is different than if they were to try to absorb the same information in a school classroom filled with desks and books.

Trained Response to Threats

photo 2-2Martial arts students are trained to recognize and respond to physical threats. During normal training these are presented in the form of technique drills, sparring and competition. Though not life threatening, these situations invoke a physical and automatic reaction to defend.