Fort Dodge, Iowa --
From all outward appearances Justin Faiferlick of Fort Dodge, Iowa seems like an ordinary guy. The calm demeanor of the father of two does not reveal that he is also is a 6th degree Master in Taekwondo and that he holds a black belt in Sogo Ryu Bujutsu. Faiferlick is also the head coach of the United States Air Force Taekwondo team and has only recently added “author” to his many titles.
As a member of the Iowa Air National Guard Lt. Colonel Faiferlick works full time as the Director of Test at the 133rd Test Squadron in his hometown guard unit. During his time away from his regular job, Faiferlick can be found teaching self-defense classes with his wife Deann at their Fort Dodge, Iowa gym. He says it was his experience teaching self-defense that inspired him to pen his recent book called “Battle Tested, How to Awaken Your Inner Confidence and Stand up to Bullying.”
“There seems to be more and more of a problem with bullying,” Faiferlick commented, when discussing his interaction with his younger martial arts students and their parents.
The Air Force veteran says he initially became interested in martial arts before joining the military more than 30 years ago. He said being introduced to the tenets of self-defense gave him confidence to stick up for himself and, by extension, to stick up for others.
According to Faiferlick the self-defense philosophy he teaches seeks to avoid “getting physical,” but if the need arises, he wants to give his students the ability to defend themselves.
“Martial arts training is a lot about self-confidence, self-discipline and self-control,” explained Faiferlick.
He believes the combination of confidence, discipline and control can often stop a problem before it starts. Furthermore, Faiferlick says that the principles of defending yourself or standing up to help someone else apply in real life but can also be applied in the case of modern cyber bullying.
“That predator is looking for something that will upset you and to feed off from that,” clairified Faiferlick “When it becomes an exchange it just goes down a rabbit hole that is hard to get out of,” he added explaining about the importance of not taking the bait in an online exchange.
At his Saturday morning martial arts class, part of the curriculum includes going over the basic tenets of Taekwondo with his students. As his class sits on the mat for a moment with their legs crossed, Faiferlick and his wife Deann take time to talk to the students about things like courtesy, integrity and respect. They also talk about bullying.
Building on a foundation of kindness, while at the same time instilling a sense of justice, Faiferlick exudes the peaceful warrior mantra that he teaches. The concepts laid out in his book may not always be easy to implement but he says they are proven strategies.
“The first thing we tell people is just walk away; if somebody is just saying words to you then we just walk away,” Faiferlick explains.
In order for an action to be considered bullying according to Faiferlick says it has be intentional and repetitive. While not minimizing aggressive acts, he explained that if someone picks on you for just one day or if it is just a single incident it may not be bullying.
Faiferlick believes the community has a lot at stake when it comes to minimizing bullying. While it may not be possible to eliminate bullying completely, he is convinced that there are things that can be done to help. His goal is to have more people armored against bullying and equipped to take action when needed.
“I’m just looking to decrease the level of bullying and let people feel better about themselves. To teach people to be kind and respectful, if everybody could do that we would have less problems throughout the world,” Faiferlick said.