Art Glauser didn’t choose to be a high school drop-out at 15.
He was driven out of school by a bully.
The never-ending harassment, coupled with troubles at home left Glauser’s self-confidence, his self esteem, his aspirations to live like a normal kid in tatters.
“I was a tall student at my age so I went to a new school and I was getting bullied by older students because they thought I was older,” Glauser shared.
“I was scared of one student who wanted to fight me, so I would skip school every day, and that was the end of it. The main reason I stopped going to high school was because I was scared of a bully.”
Behaviourally, Glauser said he was “not in a good spot.”
But Glauser picked himself up and a couple of years later, earned his GED at 19, went to university at 25 because he was passionate about becoming a teacher, and today teaches English, ESL, and Leadership at Aldergrove Community Secondary School (ACSS).
The married father of a seven-year-old boy and two-year-old girl is looking to instill confidence and self discipline in at-risk students at his school through the art of jiu-jitsu.
The program that Glauser recently received the green light to launch isn’t about turning the tables on the school bully in a parking lot or using the skills learned to hurt others, Glauser stressed.
The students who join the program must adhere to this creed: “I intend to develop myself in a positive manner and to avoid anything that would reduce my mental growth or my physical health. I intend to develop self-discipline in order to bring out the best in myself and others. I intend to use what I learn in class constructively and defensively to help myself and others, and never to be abusive or offensive. I intend to use common sense before self defence.”
“This is the essence of our club and it will be hammered home, every class,” Glauser said.
He says it’s about teaching the “four essential characteristics” all people need to be successful in their lives: confidence, a good work ethic, perseverance, and self-discipline.
While some might consider martial arts to be a bully breeding ground, bullies are not welcome in this program and the skills taught are intended to gain the confidence the students need to “stand up to their fears not defeat them,” the program’s waiver notes.
“If anyone’s found out to be using what they learned to bully other people, they’re gone,” Glauser said.
Glauser confesses he’s not a jiu-jitsu master, having studied the popular martial art for about a year-and-half.
However, he’s passionate about it because of the way it has impacted his life.
He felt as a teen growing into a young man, he had no choice but to colour outside the lines to follow his career path. He looks back on the teenage version of himself and realizes how valuable learning jiu-jitsu could have been, not just to stand up to his tormentor but to give him the confidence he needed in all aspects of life.
“That’s why, since my son was four years old, he’s been in MMA,” Glauser said.
Helping teach the class is fellow ACSS teacher Ryk Piche, whose background is mostly in Pankration. The hope is that guest martial arts instructors will visit the school to speak to the students and then offer a bit of instruction as well. Like his young son, Glauser learns jiu-jitsu at Revolution Martial Arts on the Langley Bypass and says he has great respect for the instructors, there.
The classes will run Tuesdays and Thursdays with submission grappling as the focus. They will not involve striking (punching, kicking etc.).
There has been significant interest in the program among the Grade 10 to 12 students who go to ACSS and Glauser hopes to launch the program in the next two weeks.
Martial arts is a good avenue for kids who aren’t necessarily into popular high school team sports like soccer, rugby, basketball and volleyball. While the program is open to all, the target demographic is students who need a positive environment to learn, grow, and exercise.
“This is for kids looking for a safe place — a place to belong, a place to grow not only in ability but internally,” Glauser said. “To see that they have the ability within themselves to take the steps that I took when I was 19, to realize the ability was in my hands to make the choices I needed to make to change my life.”