A spate of bullying and violent attacks on children in Exeter has prompted a highly trained martial arts and defence expert to launch a free Bully-Proof Programme. Lewis Kemp Sloan has gone from training police officers and military units overseas to teaching school children how to protect themselves against bullies after establishing Exeter Self Defence Academy.
Among the children enrolled on the latest course is 14-year-old Exeter schoolgirl Mariah Land who was savagely set upon and attacked by a group of girls last month. A shocking video of the assault went viral after it was circulated on social media platforms. It showed the Year 10 pupil at Isca Academy being repeatedly kicked and punched to her face and body, including when she fell to the ground. When she then got up, the video showed her head hitting a concrete post following another blow.
Last month, Devon Live also reported how a terrifying and brutal gang attack has left two teenage Exeter sisters recovering from injuries at home after they were set upon outside the back of McDonald's in Exeter. A video of the assault showed a large group of youths jeering, videoing and circling around 16-year-old Jessica and 14-year-old Olivia who was punched and kicked with the youngest losing consciousness.
Attempts were also made to steal their designer trainers and their iPhones were taken and smashed. They were both taken to hospital to be checked over and were left with concussion, bruising all over including to the chest, ribs and stomach and grazes.
Yesterday, June 9, Devon Live highlighted another horrifying incident where a group of up to five teenagers made terrified and vulnerable 10-year-old autistic boy Logan lick their shoes threatening that if he didn't they would 'beat him up', starting with a 'kick in the face'. The incident took place on Monday, June 6, at Chestnut Park in Wonford.
Exeter-based trainer Lewis has since offered Logan a free place on his Bully-Proof Programme. Exeter Self Defence Academy offers a a mixture of group classes for all ages and private tuition.
Lewis said: "Much of the demand for private tuition came from the parents of children who were experiencing bullying inside and outside of school. The extent of some of this bullying was quite horrifying, and children had often experienced very violent attacks.
"I put together the Bully-Proof Programme as a way of giving these youngsters a best return-on-investment approach to self defence; a system - or game plan as we call it - to disengage from or, if need be, control an aggressor that was transferable across the widest range of common situations.
"It’s proven to be extremely successful with our private clients and we’ve had some amazing feedback from greatly improved confidence to children who have been able to disarm violent bullies using our system. We had been looking to scale out this programme to group classes for some time, but it was when a video of a young local girl being assaulted by three girls went ‘viral’ locally that we decided to take the initiative. "We put out a post on our page asking if anyone knew the girl in question as we would like to offer her our programme for free. The post was shared hundreds of times and had about 30, 000 views.
"Needless to say we managed to get in touch of the family of this girl, who gratefully took us up on our offer. Alongside this we were inundated with messages from other parents who said their children had experienced similar things, and would like similar opportunities for training. "We decided that we would launch a bully proof class, for free, for children that had experienced bullying. It was advertised on Facebook and within two days the course was full."
The four week course will start this Saturday, June 11. Lewis has now decided to run further four-week bully proof courses.
Exeter Self-Defence Academy is based at St Luke's Sports Center (University Campus) in Heavitree Road. During the sessions, the equipment used incudes jigsaw mats, punch bags, boxing gloves and protective equipment, dummy knives / sticks for weapons defence, crash mats for throws and a range of strength and conditioning equipment.
Lewis has more than 20 years experience in studying various martial art and combat sport systems and spent 10 years working internationally with law enforcement and military. His roles included creating and delivering close combat training programmes, adapting his own knowledge to create combat/ self-defence systems that were effective and practical.