USA in the Morning

Mr Mike's Musings

Yet Another Almost Fight

I have seen a lot of arguments over the years as a HS teacher and marching band coach, and I knows a thing or two about how to get it to stop before it really gets started. In fact, before practice just the other day, a row broke out between two band members. As with most kids, it was probably over a trivial matter at best. It always turns out to be nonsense although to the participants at the time, it is the most important thing on earth. There is an innate desire to win in some teens. In others, they like to pick a fight out of boredom. They like the dynamics. On the other hand, I try to anticipate problems and keep problem people away from each other.

It is not always easy to stop a fight midstream, but I have a few tips you can use on your children. If you want more, see this blog: Above all, stay calm and do not enter into the melee. Do not yell or shout orders. I believe in victory without violence. I remember in the Old Rascal movies, the teacher would take Alfalfa by the ears and drag him away. If only it were that easy! I prefer the method of de-escalation that is taught in every martial arts studio across the globe. It is a principle of self defense that avoids aggression. This is an acquired skill and it comes in mighty handy when things between your students start to become physical.

It is not just a matter of “walking away” although that is an option. In a real tough situation, you can be followed. In true martial arts, it is not the honorable move. Practitioners learn how to reduce the level of intensity of an encounter that may result in considerable aggression or an “escalation” of a fight. For example, verbal attacks can result in pushes and shoves, then the fists begin to fly. I have seen it all. My job is to nip it in the bud. While a little band member tussle is not what you might encounter on the street, it does show the power of de-escalation. A teacher wants to avoid using force and relies on the use of reason to appeal to the students’ good sense. I don’t threaten either party and I don’t always know who started the trouble. You don’t want to enter into the fray. I try to solve the issue at hand.

In real life, I wouldn’t challenge an attacker which means a verbal come down, finger pointing, or a come-on gesture. With kids, you can command them, but if they are in the midst of it, it might not work. You can grab them by the shoulders while repeating “calm down.” Above all, you must gain control. Remind them who the boss is. I try to de-escalate the situation while maintaining their self respect. I always tell parents that your mouth can get you into trouble, but it can also get you out.