SCOTSBURN - A group of Scotsburn Recreation children listen intently to Chris Cruikshank as he speaks to them about self defense. Cruikshank was instrumental in developing a program aimed at school-aged children that targets self defense and bullying.
Cruickshank, a Scotsburn resident, has a back ground in karate. He is a fourth degree black belt and has been volunteering and instructing at the Northumberland Karate Club for the last 29 years.
He developed the self-defense program after recognizing a need for the children around him. More and more young people are joining karate to gain confidence. The motto of his karate club is, "the ultimate aim in the art of karate, lies not in victory nor defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants." The participants need to know when to use the skills they gain. For many, this is hard. When is it ok to defend yourself?
Having being asked this question many times as a leader of youth, he saw there was a gap between having a problem, and knowing when to defend ones self. He devised a program that would help educate children as to that grey area. There are many program designed to deal with bullies, and many others on how to defend yourself, not many address both issues for children.
He teaches three keys parts; Words, Walk, and Whatever.
He emphasized the first two must be done before you defend yourself. He repeatedly tells the children that you can hurt someone, so it must be a last resort. He showed them how to both escape and defend yourself against others, in various ways. He also addressed the issue of what to do in many situations. He answered scary questions in a frank, but child friendly manner. It does not seem to frighten the children; he is very matter of fact about his answers. He doesn’t elaborate unless further questions are asked or if he feels it need further explanation.
He said another key part to this program is being aware, of your inner voice, your surroundings and details. He taught the children to listen to warnings signs, and addresses common sense and reading situations and body language.
A very revealing exercise he does within the class is; he has a male person come in while the class is being conducted. He gives the children an activity, and this person will come in the room, and walk around the room a few times, not talking to anyone, then leave through the door.
Cruickshank then called them back to the floor, and ask them how many seen a man come in the room. Of a group of 15, only six said they had seen someone; others look very surprised by the question. He then asked for a description of the person. A group of fifteen the children came up with eight items, including things such as, a man wearing a red shirt, really old, kind of tall, glasses, sneakers on, and had hair. The children seem very surprised they cannot give Cruickshank an exact description. It was a very clever and enlightening exercise for the adults in the room, indeed.
A handout for the children and their parents is given out with safety games that can be played with parent. These games he says can be especially good when driving in the car, as a family. The handout also lists various safety numbers for children to call if they need help, including the Kids Help Phone and website.
Cruickshank obviously delivered a class that captures the need and interest of many children. In this class the children were between the ages of 4-13, and it was two hours in length. The children seemed genuinely engaged. They asked many thought provoking questions and was anxious to participate.
Some adults were concerned it may be too long for the children to participate, but instead of running an hour and a half, Cruikshank stayed an extra half hour to keep up with the demand of what the kids wanted. For more information, Chris Cruikshank may be reached at www.northumberlandkaarte.com