NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - A martial arts class in New Port Richey is packed every week, and not just with kids looking for fun and exercise. They are training their minds and bodies in case they find themselves up against a school bully.
This class was created because mixed martial arts instructor Fred Payne said parents increasingly showed interest in having their kids learn self-defense moves that could be translated to any unexpected situations in school.
Mother Kelly Santos said she enrolled her ten-year-old son, Eric, because he was being picked on in school. "We said 'we need to teach him how to defend himself,'" she said. Santos said she was terrified to learn a classmate held her son in a choke-hold to the point he could not breathe.
Most kids taking the class are enrolled for similar reasons.
"When they come here, I want to prepare them for something they could come against," said instructor Fred Payne. He has been teaching mixed martial arts for more than ten years. "It's about controlling your situation. If someone is going to push and shove and bully, It's not about hurting. It's about controlling," he said.
Payne emphasized students should never pick fights. He does not encourage violence. Instead, he teaches them how to escape violent situations and have more control in an unexpected situation.
Payne said he tried to arm children with self-confidence, an invaluable tool in any confrontation. He said, "They are worth something. They don't deserve to be bullied and they don't have to take it."
You can learn more about this class and how to enroll by clicking:
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