Zen Martial Arts Center

Sacramento Martial Arts and Karate

Once Bullied, Sacramento Boy now Brave

ZEN MARTIAL ARTS, SACRAMENTO, CA - Willie Barnett knows the pain of being bullied. The 9-year-old West Sacramento boy said, "I got shoved to the ground, choked by my sweater, got accused of bad words, kicked and punched in the stomach."

Frustrated by what she called a lack of response from school administration, Stacey Barnett moved her son to a smaller charter school. When martial arts instructor Mike Oliver saw News10's story on Willie in March, he contacted News10 and offered to help the boy with a scholarship to karate classes.

"I saw Willie's story on Channel 10 and was moved by it," said Oliver. "I was bullied as a kid and also experienced similar things. I wanted to make sure kids like him and all kids really have the tools that they need to deal with bullies properly."

Along with the physical moves, Willie and the other youngsters in his class are learning verbal judo: language techniques to try and diffuse a tense situation.

Barnett said her son is like a totally different child, and even notices a big change in his academics. "It's completely changed him," she said. "He's not so worried about being hurt or bullied."

Oliver said his students are transformed through martial arts and other training at the Zen Martial Arts Center. "By the time it's done, they're walking like their favorite heroes, walking like Superman and feeling good about themselves," Oliver said.

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Comment by Susan Bitar on October 14, 2010 at 9:35am
Willie, thank you for sharing your story. You are a great example on how to handle a very difficult situation. Way to go!!! (From: Aaron's mom)
Comment by Mike Oliver on October 14, 2010 at 1:03am
I'm proud of you Willie. Keep up the good work!

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