Pender County 12-year-old helps others stand up against bullies
PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Bullying is a serious issue and it takes its toll on kids in different ways. However, one Pender County student uses bullying as motivation to make this world a better place.
Not many 7th graders can say they have taught their own class on self-defense, let alone multiple classes or even one in another country.
But for Ethan Blevins it is just one of many skills he has under his belt as he continues to battle bullying one lesson at a time.
“It’s not good being bullied, and kids have taken their lives because of bullies,” Ethan said. “So I just want to do everything I can to make sure nobody is being bullied.”
From YouTube tutorials, to training kids much younger than he is, 12-year-old Ethan is a master at many crafts, including helping other kids stand up to bullies.
“A lot of kids these days being bullied and stuff. So we wanted to make a program to teach kids how to defend themselves,” Ethan said.
At just 4 years old, Ethan began wrestling which was soon followed by jiu-jitsu, boxing, and mixed martial arts.
In between competitions, at just 10 years old, Ethan began teaching two self-defense classes at the Surf City Community Center.
“Wrestling, jiu-jitsu, boxing. And the reason why I do all three of those ’cause if you’re trying to defend yourself you want more than one sport. ‘Cause like jiu-jitsu is mostly ground game, and if you have to stand up then you don’t really know what to do from there,” Ethan said. “So you have to have other aspects in it as well.”
Ethan’s classes are centered not around fighting, but about being prepared.
“You’re not just teaching how to strike, you’re not just teaching any ground work but you’re teaching, you know, when to apply it. You know, you don’t want to teach somebody oh just go out and start punching,” Ethan’s father, Daniel Blevins said. “You’ve got to teach control and restraint but you also got to teach when to be aware. And that’s the hardest part is understanding when you’re being threatened and when the situation really isn’t, you know, to that level. But always protecting yourself at all times.”
Ethan said gaining confidence and skill takes time and a lot of practice.
“You can’t just watch a video and don’t do anything to have confidence,” Ethan said. “You have to learn and go over, over, over, and over again.”
Ethan was even flown to Canada to teach an anti-bullying seminar alongside UFC star John Makdessi.
“I love the fact that he wants to make this world a better place instead of trying to bring people down to their level. You know, he tries to set the bar a lot higher,” Daniel said.
Bullying is an issue that hits close to home for both Ethan and his dad.
“I’ve been picked on a few times, but like I know it doesn’t really matter. Like what they’re saying and stuff ’cause all they’re doing, they’re scared, all they’re doing is trying to make themselves feel better,” Ethan said.
Daniel said Ethan never lets bullying get to him.
“It’s hard sometimes where it was just very upsetting to him, but at the same time he was OK carrying that weight, because it wasn’t on somebody else. You know, he would rather have the attention on him,” Daniel said.
Another reason why bullying is something Ethan wants to combat is because his little brother Noah has special needs.
“It pushes me more to get myself better and to see like other kids doing that to be picked on it just makes me want to train harder,” Ethan said.
Ethan said it makes him want to train harder, teach others, and step in when necessary.
“If I were to see somebody being bullied, I would step in and put the attention on me,” Ethan said. “If they didn’t listen then I would have to step in and get them off.”
It is something Ethan’s father taught him to do.
“As a parent you can only recommend, you know, so many things and one of them is to physically prepare your kids. You know, in that physical preparation you’re also teaching them, you know, to be mentally stronger too,” Daniel said.
When Ethan is not teaching classes, or competing around the world for titles, he is helping manage the wrestling team alongside his dad at Topsail High School. It is just another way he can help fellow athletes.
“I just hope that people understand like what, what happens when they bully somebody else,” Ethan said. “And like what happens to their future.”
Ethan knows what people say can stick with those bullied forever. So with everything he does, Ethan just hopes he is making a difference.
“I just want bullying to stop,” Ethan said.
Right now his dad, coaches, mentors, and siblings say he already has made a difference.
“If he can stop one kid from bullying another kid, or one kid from being bullied from another kid, he’s made a difference in the world. And I think if everybody holds that mentality then you’d see a big change,” Daniel said.
As for Ethan’s next adventure, he is now getting ready for Junior Olympic Boxing Trials and the North Carolina Wrestling Association for Youth State Championships.
However, Ethan does not plan on stopping his fight against bullying anytime soon.