Joseph Ash introduces himself in his own words “I have been studying and instructing martial arts for over 33 years and carry a diverse background in various Arts and Sciences. My specialities include Leadership & Personal Development, Fitness, Traditional Martial Arts, Self Defence, Corporate Training, Sport Tae Kwon Do and Weaponry. I own and operate BAEPLEX Family Martial Arts Center with two locations in Williamsburg, Virginia. My company is extremely active within the community providing excellent avenues for learning, personal growth and overall contribution. Recently, I published my first book, Martial Arts Unlocked “A Parents Guide to Choosing a Martial Arts School.” I continue to strive for my own personal excellence with the intent to inspire and empower others to their own levels of greatness.” Learn more about Bullying in Sport from Joseph Ash!
Below is a Transcript of the Interview on Bullying in Sport with Ciaran Connolly, Co-Founder of NoBullying.com :
Joseph Ash: My name is Joseph Ash and I have been involved with the martial arts and personal development industry for now over 33 years. Starting off as a student and then progressing from there into various aspects of the experiences. I recently became an author; wrote a book pertaining to my particular field. Now I run two, that I would consider, successful programs in my town but as what you’re doing here, I’m always looking forward to expanding services and helping as many people as possible especially with something, you know, as serious as bullying. So, I’m really excited to be a part of this and I think I have a pretty good experience being bullied myself so it’s gonna be a great opportunity to at least give some of my expertise now as an adult from both sides of the coin so to speak and help out some kids.
Ciaran Connolly: Excellent for sure. Brilliant. Well, thank you for your time today. It’s very much appreciated and it’s very good for us to get insight and perspective from a business owner but also a sports and enthusiast as well like yourself and to see what your view is on bullying. Do you think bullying today is as big a problem as it was maybe 10 or 15 years ago?
JA: Well, you know, I think it’s actually exponentially greater largely in part because of our increased technology and our abilities to access information now at such a rapid rate and if you think about it way back then before even we were born, people were considered more civilized and there were more formal approaches to solving issues that people nowadays are really quick to snap out and lash back so progressively over the years and brash through generational gaps and changes in access. It is becoming more and more prone, more and more easy, so to speak, to bully people both in person and of course behind their backs.
CC: Excellent and you mentioned technology and reflecting on history there as well you think, does a different way of bullying [exist] today? Is there a difference in bullying; how it happens with social media and with mobile phones and technology?
JA: Well, I think there is a big difference in my opinion. Just because of the simple fact that it is so easy and of course without the proper education of what exactly the individual is doing, unless it’s put to the perspective of kids. You know, nowadays you watch more kids walking around with cellphones and even iPhones nowadays where they can have full access to the internet and they may be thinking it’s kind of a harmless little joke that they are playing on their friend but really they have no idea to the depth or the magnitude of what their remarks or comments or pictures are actually doing to the other person. So, because it’s so impersonal, there is less of impact on the person who is actually doing it and of course, you know, on the flipside of that is the person on the receiving end. You know, it’s very difficult to get that type of stuff out of your life. I mean, as a business owner myself and a lot of business owners nowadays around here, it is very easy for someone to put something negative up about your business but it is very difficult to get it off. So, you know, that kind of stays with you for years and years and unfortunately in today’s society the children are having a harder time, you know, managing that for several reasons.
CC: Of course and do you think that the current media coverage of bullying and cyber bullying is actually improving things or making it worse?
JA: Well, to be honest with you Ciaran, a couple of years ago I was actually a little bit frustrated with the amount of exposure that the media was throwing out at bullying and it wasn’t really that I don’t think there is a need for the awareness. I think there is exploitation of the bullying itself and the end results of the bullying, there wasn’t really a lot of ‘how to’ or informative experts that were giving advice and things, well at least not as much as I have seen. I mean, you know, I very rarely watch the news for that reason. There’s just too much negativity going on but since the past year, here and there and you may see something unless you’re really looking for it. I haven’t really seen as much or heard about it as much but I am interested to see what’s going to be happen over the next couple of weeks as we are getting ready for the next school year to see if they are going to start bringing things like that out but, you know, again to my experience there has been some positive steps that the media has brought into play and some positive steps that some other community leaders are taking a lead on; at least in our community to you know minimize, if not eliminate, bullying issues.
CC: Excellent and I have to agree with you the sensation of it, it feels like sometimes it’s to sell newspapers. You are perfectly right. They are running the stories but it’d also be very good if they did run some help and advice and FAQs along with it so people will be educated as well as being told the story that sells the copy. What can parents do to help the child if they believe that they are being bullied?
JA: Well, I think that’s a really deep question. There are lots of aspects to it and, you know, whoever is listening to it. You know, there are some parents that are a little bit more involved than others. I think a lot of that has to do with like what I was talking about earlier. Parents, you know, by nature need to be a parent; they need to be involved. They need to actually be aware of who and what their kids are doing and seeing and hearing even listening to. I mean, music doesn’t help when it’s always talking about beating up, shooting up, things of that nature. Movies don’t help if that’s what your kids are exposed to on ongoing basis. I mean, now we are all in the tablets, iPhones and iPads, kids are glued to whatever video game it is and could be shooting up things. You know, all that stuff you know really plays into the psyche of the individual as it’s developing. I know as an athlete, when I was getting ready for competitions and stuff, there was a certain theme of music and things that I would try to get into to get into the moment and make sure that my state was at a peak performance so that I can perform and protect myself and also overcome challenges that I was facing. I don’t think that people, though specifically I should say parents because kids don’t know better but, I don’t think parents are actually guiding their kids in that sense and it’s not entirely their fault. I think they were raised in a certain way and society has now shifted. I mean, it’s now shifted for our parents and even for me and now there are a lot of dual parents working so there is less supervision, there is less quality supervision I should say, that the kids are getting these days. You know, just throwing them into brat camps that are just to cater to the masses that are not really teaching life skills or educational tools that they could be using for real life situation. So, you know, for me couple of things that parents need to be doing is being a parent. Forget about coming home and answering emails or talking on the phone on the way home. Be involved with your kids and, you know, when you set up an activity, you want to actually interview the opportunity for that activity meaning you want to go and talk to the coaches, talk to teachers, watch some practices, listen to how they talk to other people, see if they share the same values that they are teaching to the other team members or the other students and see if that aligns with what you want your child exposed to. Things like that are very important and if all possible, be involved physically and be present physically and doing an activity as well. I mean, there is a lot of really, there is not really a lot, but there are several very good high value activities that parents could be doing with their children that actually do provide them the opportunity to teach life skills.
More on Bullying in Sport
CC: And you have covered a couple of points but you are right. I think it’s very hard in this age to find time, quality time, and spend it with our children and just highlighting how important that actually is for them today and the future’s development it is very important. Of course, you work in sports and work with children in sports. Why would an activity like a sport be a good distraction or help someone that is bullied?
JA: Well, I’m glad you’re bringing that up, Ciaran. You know, sports are good. They can be good and even though I do have…there is an aspect of sports in what I do, I don’t see myself as a coach per se for sport. I see myself more of a life coach. I see more of, you know, I’m the person that kind of works with people to become their personal best. The majority of my students don’t have to do tournaments or compete to any capacity other than themselves and I love all sports. Before I say this, I’m a big fan of sports. I love the Olympic Games every year. Every time that comes out, I’m just crying. It doesn’t matter who wins, I love that but unfortunately I think that sports that are being taught nowadays aren’t teaching the values that people need. You know, even though some of them claim fame to including everybody and even though they may try to include everybody, some kids are still sidelined quite often so they don’t get to participate so they don’t get the complete value and even teams and kids that they are winning and doing well, I don’t see a lot of actual lessons being taught in that and, you know, even with our professional athletes, whatever sport it maybe, you know, the role modelling that they are doing doesn’t set a really great tone for our future generations to aspire to. So, sports are great if they actually can include life lessons and unfortunately that slows down the learning of actual skills but I feel that that’s more of a need right now than making the next pro team because you know we are in this mess right now for, I wouldn’t say mess. We are in this situation right now because of what we have been breeding and that breeding has been sometimes self-fulfilling as opposed to the better made up goal.
CC: Of course and when you are talking about the sports games, I’m getting some flashbacks of football games I have watched for a referee has been surrounded by the players and berated when they don’t agree with the decision and I’m thinking of parents on the sideline screaming and shouting abuse at referees and people playing. So, maybe, as adults, we aren’t exactly setting the right example or the best example for children so we do need to question ourselves on this. You have actually started a martial arts program, can you tell us little bit about that?
JA: Well, you know, I think a lot of martial arts programs by nature are trying to do the right thing. I just think that, you know, there’s so many other percentages are caught going the route of competitions or sport aspect of it which is an element of it and even there is but they caught up in the mindset of them trying to, for the sake of their school’s name, be the best or what have you or living through their students whatever that may be but in general I love all sports. I love all martial arts. You know, I had my areas of expertise but I don’t think that one style is better than the other. I think they are all supposed to be doing the same thing. So, in saying that, the empowerment program, the empowerment piece of my program, comes down to the character skills and leadership skills that I incorporate into the day to day activity. So, you know, we go through physical skills but our higher priority for each one of the members is in who they are and what they want to become and how they are going to contribute to society to make the world a better place. So, you know, there is actually a structured curriculum of physical skills and then there is a structured curriculum for character and leadership skills. So, that in and of itself, I feel is a very empowering tool because it actually teaches them aspects of being a good person and then being able to translate that good person skill into being a good leader which will then lead people down in a more positive path.
CC:Very good. Do you think that those real benefits, not only for children themselves but to the child’s family, maybe even to later life from doing a program like this?
JA: Yes. You mean, you are talking about parents involved with kids?
CC: Yes, exactly.
JA: Yes, absolutely. I mean, you know, it is good the way you look at it. When mum and dad are over there saying “Hey. You need to go and do your stretches. You need to go to do your exercise” and meanwhile dad is on the sofa sipping on a cold one or something, you know, sooner or later the boy is going to go, “Hey Dad, what about you?”. So, we have to set the example for the children. You know, from my point of view, if my child was participating in something like, I have a daughter who likes to do gymnastics and I have a son who likes to do martial arts and stuff you know, if I can do gymnastics with her out there on the floor, then I would be there to do that, to be the example, to help her know that I care about it. I care about her doing it because I believe in, you know, the exercise regimen, the discipline, the forms and stuff but unfortunately, at least in my area, we don’t have a gymnastics program where the kid and the adult can do it together. So, parents are usually sitting on the sidelines and they are doing this part of thing [chatting] and I choose not to be involved with that as much. So, something like martial arts is very good because not only can the parents do it as well, I mean there is dance also, but to be able to be in the same room or the same building in the same program that teaches the character skills and values that you know, you find it important for you and what you want to instill to your children. It only reinforces it.
Bullying in Sport and Schools
CC: Very good, you have also been involved in schools that educate children about bullying, was that successful? What was your experience there?
JA: Yes, I mean countless numbers. It’s very hard to put an exact figure on that but, you know, we are heavily involved, my programs are heavily involved, with the schools in our area; with going to do school talks and hosting special workshops that are free and open to the community. So, you know, every year there is at least one or two throughout the year that parents are calling in saying thanks or appreciating or even bringing their kids in to enroll them the program because they see the value and now understand or even perhaps they were bullied and they thought the kids were going OK and all of a sudden, BAM! You know, they get blindsided and they need an extra hand. They need an extra help and we are their extra parents so to speak to help them through that.
CC: Excellent. Very good and does the community have a big part to play in helping solve bullying problem?
JA: Absolutely. As you know that old saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a kid’. So, if you remember, I know it as me when I was little running outside, you know, every neighbour down the street knew who I was and if I was misbehaving, all what it takes is a phone call down the line to my mum and so everybody was looking out for everybody and I think we have lost that a lot. So, you know, I put the challenge out to businesses in my community to be a part of that. I mean, I held out and I kind of spread the word or keep people involved within my circle of influence, within my families or within my organization but I’m constantly trying to involve different businesses, different schools to take part in being an active member in helping out with this and with the raising of our children.
CC: Excellent. Well, thank you Joe for your time today. It was excellent to get an insight into what you and your business were doing in the local community trying to help, I guess, encourage and motivate and guide young people through in their learning as well but if anyone wanted to find out more about your programs, about your business and even connect with you, is there a way that they can do that?
JA: Yes, probably the best way to connect with me would be through internet or email. I’m not constantly on that so if people want to send out an email, they can just email me at: [email protected]. That’s the name of my book. I’m always open to helping young people and I find this a great avenue, a great vehicle, to reach more people and, you know, I’m one of those people that if I don’t know the answer and if I can’t help, I will direct people to find the answer and even to find maybe a program in their area too because, you know, again I’ve been forced to travel the world and find some people. So, it will be a great sort of thing.
CC: Excellent. I will make sure to have live links underneath the video so anyone can click through quickly. Well, thank you again for your time.
JA: Absolutely, Ciaran. Thank you too.