SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Every Tuesday in our "Don't be a Victim" report, we bring you important information about how to stay safe, and it's not just adults who need to be on guard.
This week, we made a stop at ATA Blackbelt Academy in Savannah to see how young people are learning to protect themselves - and also gain confidence - through martial arts.
Jim Richard is a fifth-degree black belt, butt along with teaching kids physical skills, he also teaches them to think smart.
"But first, I want to use my what? My brain, my voice, and my eyes to avoid any problems, right,' he says to the group.
Richard says kids can learn many important skills from the class.
"If you look at the news almost any night, kids are getting bullied, they are getting abducted by other people, and what our program does is it really builds kids from the inside out, and we are really trying to teach kids to stand up for themselves and we also want them to stand up for others, and we want them to stand up for what's right," Richard said.
Instructor Jerome Murray says the earlier they start, the better they generally learn.
"At a young age, we'll be able to influence them to do the right thing; use it to protect themselves and protect their families if they need to," Murray said.
Student Charlie Stuart says one of the reasons he took the class was because he was being bullied at school. He says it has given him the confidence he needs to protect himself,
"I think it would help me have an edge because I know a lot more than they do about fighting and self-defense," he said.
Students say they are having fun at the same time.
"I like doing it just because it makes me happy and it got me fit because I used to be kind of fat, and now I have really strong abs for a kid my age. It would probably help me out because I feel really confident about it, and I probably would get bullied more than some people because of my hand. I was born this way, but I feel fine about it that even with my hand, I could protect myself. I feel confident about that kind of stuff," JP Simmons said.
Gaining that confidence is one of the great benefits of learning martial arts according to instructors, but ironically, they hope their students never have to put their self-defense skills to use.
"We kind of hope that they never need it, but we would rather if they do need it, they have got it," Richard said.
For more information on ATA Blackbelt Academy's programs for kids and adults, you can call 912.354.5961 or visit their website here.