Can a Child Really Fight an Adult?

Basic truth is simple. It is extremely unlikely a child could fight off an adult, even with years of martial arts training.

A child is a soft and easy target. An elementary school child would be hard pressed to fight off an adult attacker, especially an angry or determined abuser or abductor.

Except in the rarest of cases, children will not be able to punch or kick or grapple their way out of a fight with an adult. Let’s face it. When a small child punches or kicks you, it does not hurt to the point of incapacitation. OK, maybe groin or eyes could be effective targets, but those shots are way up high for small kids, and determined adults expecting resistance may endure moderate pain under the driving intent to beat or kidnap a child.

So true self defense training for a child cannot be about pounding a bag, slamming kicks into air shields, whipping arm locks on, or winning a trophy in a martial arts contest, no matter how “cool” some teacher or a few kids might think that looks. Real self defense needs a radically different approach than miniaturized adult combat training.

There are many things children can learn to be better prepared to defend themselves. That’s where we come in with our visionary SKH Quest To-Shin Do self defense training. Because of our ninja philosophical background, ours is a completely different approach to teaching children how to deal with abduction and attack attempts. Our ninja taihenjutsu evasion escape training provides honest methods for surprising and confusing an attacker so a child can get away and find safety.

Would you agree that most kids are not cuttingly aggressive by nature? Adults intimidate them and children are often conditioned to obey adult commands. Our program lessons take into account the reality that kids will be confused by adult confrontation, and we help kids learn effective ways to avoid abduction or abuse.

Of course our To-Shin Do taijutsu strikes and dodges and takedowns do work well when the schoolyard bully goes too far. But when it comes to an adult abducting or beating a child, an entirely different set of strategies, tactics, and skills are needed. Our unique ninja history provides the best thinking and acting responses to increase the likelihood of your child getting home happy and healthy.

– An-shu Stephen K. Hayes

10 comments to “Can a Child Really Fight an Adult?”

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  1. Ben Sackenheim says: -#1

    It is good to see a martial arts teacher acknowledge this uncomfortable fact. But we have to face this fact, or the alternative is unrealistic training. It’s a message that I imagine concerned parents do not want to hear, but we can not address this important issue by ignoring it any longer. After 10 years training in Karate, Jujutsu, and Bujinkan, I have seen a lot of unrealistic approaches to teaching self-defense (and particularly with children) as well as some good ones. Thanks for putting this out there!

    With respect,
    Ben Sackenheim

    • Trace Richards says: -#2

      I agree. In some instances an adult can find themselves in that situation as well… where they are at a big disadvantage where size and strength are concerned. It takes something more to be able to walk away from the situation in good health. Being able to out manuver an opponent is very important, even more so for a child who must protect theirself from an adult. This is very insightful.

  2. Michael Waight says: -#1

    This is a sad fact of life. Most martial arts schools teach unrealistic techniques to children and women when it comes to actually protecting their lives. I’ve seen numerous instructors with the wrong kind of thinking. But this is either due to the fact that they have not been in that type of situation themselves or just teach what has worked for THEM in the past. What works for a strong adult won’t work for a 7 year old. I personally teach my young students the effectiveness of evasion, going for the throat when an adult is really trying to hurt them. I tell them strike a weak point like the eyes or throat, then run, run, run and scream. They drill these strikes till they know how to strike the main targets from all angles, from several grabs and holds. Keeping in mind that some parents are not comfortable with their kids learning this sort of thing, I talk with them beforehand. I ask if they want their child to really know how to protect themselves in a real life encounter or just to learn punches and kicks. So far, they all truely want their children to be better prepared. I guess it’s a sign of the times we live in. Also in teaching children these sort of things, comes a responsibility…on the instructor’s part, the child and the parents. Thank you An-Shu for adressing this issue. Bufu Ikkan!

  3. I truly have to agree with Anshu, what is being taught to children as “Self Protection” is truly a false sense of security. As a professional martial arts instructor having worked for school owners teaching what’s more marketable than what is real, I have seen first hand that children, even those with years of training just simply will not be able to defend themselves against a determined child predator or abusive classmates. Having taken some serious time reflecting on what I have been teaching, and studying what Anshu is teaching the community, I have resolved this new year to teach what is real and what will work! Thank you Anshu for the inspiration and showing me that it’s what people need to focus on.

  4. Jeffrey Stephens says: -#1

    Years ago I was at sparring night at a Shotokan Karate dojo.
    The sensei squared off with a little boy who was 6 years old.
    The sensei had an elastic knee brace on. In any event, the first
    thing the little boy did was kick the sensei right in his knee.
    The sensei grimaced in pain, then looked to the ceiling rolling his
    eyes while a big grin spread across his face. I believe he limped
    around for awhile, delegated his responsibilities to his second in command, and retired to his office. Unfortunately, due to circumstances, I had to discontinue my training at the dojo.
    I always wondered if sensei fully recovered.
    On a more serious note, the city I live in has become a dumping
    ground for New York State to send it’s paroled sex-offenders to. Just tonight on the news there was a report of an 8 year old having been kidnapped by a casual acquaintance of the boys mother. Luckily, the boy appears to have been found “safe and sound” in a town about an hour away. Incidents similar to this seem to be a regular occurrence hereabouts. Guardians need to be “guardians” in every sense of the word these days.
    Children are fragile and precious. So too is childhood. It is a shame how quickly kids have to grow up these days. It is a crime when trauma of any kind compromises human potential, but so much more so when senseless acts result in the scarring of innocents.
    As adults, it is our responsibility to be the shepherds- To provide the inspiration, consolation, and if necessary, the protection for our youth. I applaud the efforts of Anshu and those involved in such a noble undertaking.

  5. As one of the To-Shin Do schools teaching this way I can tell you that once introduced to these concepts the children begin to understand and look forward to their version. We teach our Youth the same techniques as the adults assuming that they are dealing with a bully but then we teach them the same concept for escaping from and adult. Often the children will ask us, “how do I do this with you?”

    They understand that they need to get away and take pride in being able to escape. With our Little Ninjas this is all we teach them and they love it.

    Children are looking for a sense of power. It can be the illusion of thinking they can fight or it can be the real ability to escape. The children don’t care which one; they just want the feeling of accomplishment. It’s our job at adults and teachers to be mature enough to teach the one that will keep them safe.

  6. Dear Steve,
    I hope you don’t mind me leaving a comment here,but you are absolutely correct,the best training we can teach children is awareness and the application of taihenjutsu.Years ago,one of my students was waiting for his school bus,a man approached him and of all things asked him for a cigarette.He immediately ran off, hiding from the man who tried to grab him.Once his assailant had given up the chase,our young student ran back home notifying his parents.
    Ironically,INPO was the lesson we’d taught as a game the night before.His parents were so grateful for the training we’d passed onto to our young students.Great article.Take care, old friend!

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