Kids Gain Power Against Bullies through Martial Arts - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Kids Gain Power Against Bullies through Martial Arts

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MISSOULA -

Thirty-one Missoula kids got the chance to jab, kick and wrestle on Thursday, under the guidance of a mixed martial artist as part of an anti-bullying program.

The Boys and Girls Club of Missoula sponsored Thursday's event in honor of National Bully Awareness Prevention Month.

Organizers said the goal is to give kids self confidence, so they don't become targets for bullies.

"It's self defense with a twist."

Head Coach of the Dog Pound Fight Team, Matthew Powers, led the boys-only seminar, demonstrating the basic moves of muay thai -- a combat sport from Thailand.

Powers explained, "The reality is, once someone's decided that they're going to attack somebody, you're not going to talk your way out of it."

Powers said as the kids learn the moves, they're gaining the confidence and mental stamina to stand up for themselves.

"How to quickly stop an attack, or at least make the attacker realize that they picked the wrong person," he said.

Kaiden Pruitt, 9, said he's faced bullies before. Now, Pruitt said he feels more powerful, knowing he could protect himself with his new skills if he had to.

"I think that they're going to tell the bully to stop bullying me, and not to bully anyone around me," Pruitt said.

Boys and Girls Club Executive Director, Janis Fontaine, said bullying is more than just fights on the playground -- it's aggressive behavior that stems from an imbalance of power.

"So, the idea behind this is teaching kids to be more confident and powerful, so they're going to be less of a target," Fontaine said.

Fontaine said all participants took an anti-bullying pact, promising to never use what they've learned to hurt others.

Pruitt added, "It makes me feel a lot safer."

The girls' seminar takes place on Friday from 10 a.m. to noon at Access Fitness on Brooks Street.

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