Andrew helps students defend against bullying

Student Thomas Doherty gets to grips with his teacher Mr Nelligan as part of the self-defence classes at St Michael's Listowel.
Student Thomas Doherty gets to grips with his teacher Mr Nelligan as part of the self-defence classes at St Michael's Listowel.

IF they did before, no one will be messing with the young lads of St Michael's anymore after they completed a six-week course in martial arts.

Martial arts expert Andrew Kellighan took a group of second-year students on a voyage of physical and mental enhancement of late, teaching them simple and effective self-defence skills, but a whole lot more as well.

The course also showed the lads how to act more assertively and to understand better what bullying really is all about - a phenomenon that is a stranger to no school. Ironically, for a course teaching youngsters how to fight more effectively, its real message - as with the best of all martial arts teaching - was about the futility of angry physical contact.

"I aim to bring violence out into the open, to get people to understand it, its consequences and how to avoid it," Andrew said. "I show what to do in situations where you have no choice but to face it, and let's face it, it is a fact of life. This is more important than ever. With so much concern about bullying in schools, I aim to help pupils understand what bullying is, why people do it and how to respond when faced with it."

They had a whole lot of fun too, as Thomas Doherty's face in our picture reveals - getting Andrew in a headlock as the teacher willingly became the victim to demonstrate how to extricate oneself from sticky situations.

Andrew teaches self defence skills at a variety of centres in north Kerry and the underlying message is the same for all of them, no matter what age group. It's about awareness.

"Awareness is key to avoiding trouble by seeing it coming and avoiding dangerous scenarios," he said.

"So many situations are avoidable and I aim to help young people understand why they should be avoided. Ignorance is the breeding ground of violence. So the more young people learn and reflect about these matters the better. Hollywood, the internet and contact sports so often give young people the wrong idea. Real violence is not pretty or cool. It is messy, dangerous and to be avoided at all costs."

To find out more about Andrew's work with young people or his classes for adults and children in Applied Karate and Self Defence see "Real Life Protection" on Facebook, or phone 0863680141.

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