Posted by Damon O'Hanlon
I've been teaching martial arts since I was 17 years old. The good part about that is I’ve already been at this for awhile, and I have loads of practice. The not so good part is that, because I started teaching so young, I sometimes inherited practices which I wasn’t yet mature or experienced enough to evaluate critically. The false comfort of ‘stranger danger’ is a glaring example.
In my karate class and thousands of classes like it, after kids perform a self-defense move, the kids practice running away and yelling, "Stranger, stranger!" The idea is simple. Get attention and help from nearby persons. But think about the underlying message. Just who exactly are these kids running from? Well, they’re shouting it so... I guess it must be... a stranger!
Now, I was lucky to learn at one of the finest dojos in California, possibly the whole country. That place turns out top notch martial artists, and some of the most incredible instructors you could ever hope to meet. When I think about how lucky I am to have worked with them, I feel as if I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants. Giants with black belts. 99.9% of the things they taught me are mind-blowingly amazing and as true today as on the day they taught me. But as for the stranger danger routine?