Self Defense: Beating bullies with words

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Behind the walls of Revolution Self Defense is what looks and sounds like martial arts. But a TKO in this fight comes without a single touch.

"There's a lot of stuff that I've always thought in between was missing," Jim Cloutier, the owner and instructor, said.

It's why he started the business in October of 2018. The class teaches kids as young as four years-old to avoid the fight. Cloutier said it's a battle that's more mental than physical.

"I used to be super shy. I never really talked a lot and I would always cower down when someone insulted me," Chloe Smith said. The 13- year-old has been with Revolution since the program began. Her dad, Sam Smith, said he's seen a transformation.

"The way she stands. The way she handles herself. She just exudes confidence," he said.

Nearly 40 kids currently take the class, which Cloutier said means 40 kids see bullying as a problem.

"He's such a sweet boy and not every kid out there is as sweet as your own kid," Dillian Tierce said talking about his son Jace. "It's hard to mentally think about your kid being bullied at school," he said.

Cloutier said, along with confidence, kids learn to use the right words. Instead of engaging in conflict, he recommends diffusing the situation

Many East Tennessee school systems have zero tolerance for any violence. Cloutier teaches kids only use it as a last resort.

"If all else fails, you have to protect yourself," he said. But he also teaches that when push comes to shove -- just don't.

"What we say here is you win 100 percent of the fights you don't get into."

Revolution teaches kids 4 to 13 years-old. Kids will graduate to a black belt, which takes a few years.