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Just say no to bullies: Hillman’s Martial Arts teaches students respect

In a world full of bullying and disrespect, a local martial arts teacher is striving to teach our young ones the value of giving back.

In a world full of bullying and disrespect, a local martial arts teacher is striving to teach our young ones the value of giving back.

“It’s getting out of hand and people are caring about themselves and not caring about others and that’s why I teach my students the importance of respect” said Shihan Tom, owner of Hillman’s Martial Arts. “If you see someone struggling, ask them if they need help, hold a door open for someone, and assist someone when you don’t have to.”

Shihan Tom is a 7th degree black belt who has been practicing martial arts for the past 18 years. He opened up his own martial arts school, Hillman’s Martial Arts Center, located at 6730 S. Transit Road, Lockport, two years ago. While martial arts is his passion, instilling values in children and families is his true goal. Martial arts was not solely created to help students with physical benefits, it also carries many mental health benefits as well.

“We build self confidence here. You walk with your head held high, you don’t walk with your head down because that’s an easy target for bullies. When you talk to someone, you look at the person you’re talking to because it shows respect and that’s what we want to teach our students,” said Shihan Tom.

By being a positive role model for children of a young age, Shihan Tom is able to teach them how to treat others. His classes focus on several values including modesty, perseverance, and courtesy.

“Modesty meaning to not brag to others, perseverance meaning don’t give up, and courtesy because we need that in this world,” said Shihan Tom.

Small gestures like looking someone in the eyes, listening, and focusing on what someone is saying are also values that are taught at Hillman’s Martial Arts Center. In order to advance in ranking, a student must not only master the techniques of martial arts, they must master its principles. And in order to further his mission of keeping children from becoming bullies in the first place, Shihan Tom has invited parents to join him in his classes as well.

“I think parents need discipline, too, because we don’t have mom and dad to say we shouldn’t be doing certain things and we forget that we have someone following in our own footsteps,” said Shihan Tom. “By holding family classes, parents are spending time with their children and doing something positive.”

Each parent has to follow the same rules as their child during each class. They must take their shoes off when they walk in the door, bow onto the floor upon entering, face the American flag, bow to the flag, ask permission to leave the floor and bow when leaving the floor. Shihan Tom said when children see their parents following the rules of martial arts, they are more inclined to be respectful outside of the dojo as well.

“They see their parents paying attention and listening and then they follow it. It makes sense,” he said.

But what happens if a bully approaches a student even if the student is being respectful? Shihan Tom said he asks his students one question first.

“I ask my students if the bully only used words,” he said. “And then I ask them if words hurt them physically. There’s no need for violence and there’s always something else you can do. But, if a student is being physically harmed, we’re here to show them how to protect themselves without harming the other person because our goal is to see that no one ever gets hurt.”

At Hillman’s Martial Arts Center, the mission is always to be the better person and to take a stand against bullying by showing compassion to others even when they might not deserve it. Shihan Tom hopes by instilling these principles in his students, he will have a positive impact on each young person he meets.

“I want to give everyone who comes here knowledge,” said Shihan Tom. “It doesn’t matter how much you learn. As long as you learn something and keep it with you and maybe give it to someone else to pay it forward, that’s my goal.”

Shihan Tom is in the process of relocating his school to a new facility at Brocton Drive in Lockport (right off Robinson Road). The facility was once USA Self Defense Karate School and it will now be the home to Hillman’s Martial Arts Center beginning next year. This will allow more room for current students and additional square footage for many more students to come!

For more information on Hillman’s Martial Arts, visit Hillman’s Martial Arts Center on Facebook or call 716-625-4477.

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