Martial arts have been practiced and utilized since antiquity, steadfastly carried forth through many generations of mankind in diverse societies, through times of peace and war. Their venerable age is verified by a number of ancient Egyptian, Indian, and Asian murals depicting hand-to-hand combat. Though these martial arts were developed primarily for self-defense in troubled times, scientific studies and millions of personal testimonies indicate their key role in molding respectable character, confidence, positive outlook, personality, and personal success. Research has shown a range of improvements in physical health, self-image, and social skills made by adult students when surveyed eight months into training. In children and teens, some improvements were made more quickly.
Martial arts and self-esteem
Self-esteem is basically what we think of ourselves. Perception of the self – your unique self- image – greatly influences how other people perceive and label us. Building self-confidence is a natural process that occurs while training in the martial arts. Men and women join for a range of reasons, but the multitude of benefits they typically find as students multiplies their returns.
A person who has high self-esteem may be very active in society, forming bonds that get things done, because he or she believes his or her contribution is imperative to a better life for all. Self- confidence gives you the power and the motivation to affect changes when and where they’re needed!
Testing your limits – and expanding them through interesting, powerful exercise – leads you to know yourself on a deeper level. Trust in yourself and your abilities developed over time gives you a new outward appearance as well. Understanding and accepting yourself, setting goals and reaching them, are self-perpetuating – success breeds success in other areas of life. When you know your worst, but choose – and know how – to bring out your best, all the time, you often create win-win situations and bolster your reputation!
Martial arts training improves physical fitness, toning muscles, losing weight, raising energy levels, boosting immunity, and generally making you look and feel more attractive. Naturally, this is a major boost to one’s self-esteem. As you advance through ranks and belt colors, your pride and pleasure increase your commitment to reach Black Belt, to win a competition, to break those boards, and so on. The intense focus you practice to control and execute the martial arts movements removes focus you ordinarily spend on fears, complexes, hangups, and such. It alleviates stress and builds self-confidence at a steady pace in most students.
Researches and studies
In 1986, Richman and Rehberg conducted a study to measure the influence of martial arts in a person’s self esteem. The study was conducted on a sample of 60 martial artists, who participated in the 1985 Battle of Atlanta tournament. They were split into four groups according to their expertise – group 1 with people who held white through gold belts; group 2 had purple, green, and blue belts; group 3 athletes had red or brown belts; group 4 held black belts. Karate Tournament Survey, which is a self-report questionnaire, was the tool used to measure the self-esteem of subjects. In the test, the people with higher belts displayed higher scores for “internal reliability.” Also, people with higher self-confidence were seen to have performed better during the tournament.
In 1990, Finkenberg performed a study on 100 females to test the same. Of the 100, 51 were subjected to practice Tae Kwon Do and the rest had to attend general health classes, both for a period of 18 weeks. Before and after these sessions, the sample was subjected to Tennessee Self Concept test. It was found after the test that the women who participated in Tae Kwon Do showed more improvements in self-satisfaction, personal self, social self, physical self, and self identity than the subjects who attended the health classes.
Self-satisfaction is trained and earned by continually achieving success. Self-confidence grows by reinforcing itself repeatedly, as you achieve personal victories in the martial arts. Almost everyone can benefit from a higher self-esteem and better physical fitness, so consider joining a martial arts class and see the differences you can make!