Deanne Stein, News 9

NORMAN, Oklahoma -- Vision Martial Arts Academy in Norman teaches people of all ages self-defense. But the owner, Amber LaValley, has taken it a step further with her younger students, teaching them skills to fight back against bullies. Her technique, however, isn't with kicks and hits, but with words.

"Most people say when you're being bullied, just ignore the person which unfortunately may not always work," said Amber LaValley, owner of Vision Martial Arts Academy. "So, we are offering suggestions to the kids on how to keep their calm and how to verbally diffuse the situation without having to ignore it and internalize what they're feeling."

It's called Verbal Judo, where students use a series of word blocks to diffuse a confrontation with a bully. The words are sometimes humorous or apologetic, whatever it takes to stop a verbal confrontation from escalating to violence.

"They called me stupid," said Jackson Blaylock, a 4th grader in LaValley's class.

Blaylock said he was with some friends when he was called names. Instead of returning the name calling, he said used what he learned in class.

"I knew it was going to work, but I was still kind of nervous," said Blaylock.

Saif Salim, also a 4th grader said he had the same success.

"I was once called stupid," said Salim. "I used an apologetic word block and told them ‘I'm sorry, I understand you don't like me, but could we not talk to each other or make a compromise?'"

Salim said his bully never bothered him again.

"The fact that this is working and making kids feel better about themselves is huge for me and makes me feel wonderful about what I'm doing," said LaValley.

LaValley is the only certified verbal judo instructor in the Norman area. If you would like to learn more about her programs, call Vision Martial Arts at 405-321-8474.