Does Karate Help With Anger Issues In Kids?

Anger is a normal emotion that all humans will experience from time to time. There are two problems that can be seen in some children in their evolving developmental stages. One is the too frequent occurrence of the emotion and the other is an inappropriate or disproportionate reaction to it.

Karate can help with anger is several ways.

  • Gives long term goals to help with focusing past the emotions.
  • Gives outlets for emotional energy in appropriate ways.
  • Gives self discipline tools to help with controlling response actions.
  • Gives the understanding and ability to show meekness.
  • Gives practice in considering others and how reactions to anger will affect them.

All of these points are actionable and not just theoretical. Let’s take a look at each one and see how Karate specifically helps with anger problems in that particular area. There is also much research that has been done on anger and its effects.

How Focus On Long Term Goals Helps With Anger

Focus is the ability to see past the immediate and strive toward a goal that takes time and effort to achieve. Anger is an emotion that clouds this view and derails us on that path. Karate helps with anger by demanding those goals be set and requiring daily adherence to a lifestyle that allows them to be reached

We all know how this works with smaller children. Redirection is a great option when getting them to focus on others and reality rather than go down rabbit holes of emotion. This same type of thing can work for kids and even adults for that matter.

Setting and working diligently towards goals gets our focus off of our immediate desires for control and sets them on higher goals that takes our energies and applies them. Kids need help doing this since their brains are not fully formed and experience hasn’t taught them the importance of goal setting and striving.

How can Karate help with anger in kids through focusing on goals? Let’s take a single class for instance. There are goals even in each individual class. The techniques they are learning have the ‘cool factor’ for kids. They see them in movies and even super heroes know them.

Becoming proficient in these techniques are practiced and even evaluated in a class. Learning new ones and testing abilities with old ones are directly related to the goal of learning the martial arts.

There is also the belts that are tremendous goal setting tools. These goals come with expectations of behavior and research shows that the higher the belt rank the less aggressiveness each child shows in day to day activities.

In a study published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills, researchers from Indiana State University found an ‘inverse’ relationship between martial arts belt ranks and the aggressiveness measured in children participating in the analysis.

These children are learning the self discipline needed to achieve the goals they set and reach them again and again. They are also learning the responsibility that is placed squarely on them to control their behavior even in the face of floods of emotion.

Competition in class and tournaments, sparring practice, and testings all teach children how to deal with defeat, understanding that everyone is on differing levels, and some starting with more genetic advantages.

This is invaluable to children who are regularly told today that everyone is absolutely equal in all areas. Anger comes from realizing this is not true when they have been taught to base their world view on it.

Karate Is An Outlet For Emotional Energy Caused By Anger

Anger in children just as in adults builds up the fight or flight reflex sometimes to a feverish pitch. The slow build of annoyances throughout the day can also reach high levels we term as stress. Our lack of control over ourselves, environments, and others cause this nearly every day.

Kids have this problem, but even more intensely due to the fact that their brains haven’t fully formed yet. They also don’t have the emotional experience to handle highs and lows. This leads to a bit of emotional overload even with the most well adjusted kids.

Endorphins are a frazzled set of nerves best friend. When we do constructive physical activity our brains reward us with a chemical prize that sends our emotions back to normal levels. This doesn’t happen with every physical activity. Stress from unwanted, undirected, or non-goal oriented activity can make matters worse.

If the right mix of fun, fitness, and functionality are found, the effect could be like rebooting a computer. This is how Karate can help with anger issues in kids and adults alike.

The enjoyment is what makes a person want to train in the first place. The fitness component is obvious and the functionality in all aspects of life comes uniquely with proper martial arts instruction.

Fun Through Karate Knocks Anger Out Cold

The things we do always come with a payment or we simply won’t do them. Pointless is not something most people will pursue unless there is some outside payment not inherent in the action. We play games for the accomplished feelings of success. The same goes for physical activity.

The same thing is true for Karate. Accomplishment and progress along with creative drills and techniques are key to a good Karate program. The fun is built right in. Anger and stress can be forgotten for the duration of a good Karate class. When we strive for success, we tend to forget to turn inward on our subjective emotions.

Fitness Gained With Karate Outlasts Anger

We all feel better when we are in shape. It is a simple fact. When we have a good self image, which good fitness is a major part of, we can then move on to other things. We aren’t preoccupied with stress and disappointment over our self perceptions.

We also tend to be stronger and less tired. This alone make us more successful at the things we do. If we are more successful then we can move on to entertainment without hindrances. This is all built on a healthy lifestyle. Karate and other martial arts definitely can deliver on that goal.

Functionality Comes From Martial Arts Training Like No Other

There is no equal to the life changing applications that the martial arts can give to students young and old. There are so many benefits in this area that it would take several articles to discuss them all. Here is a short list of some of them:

  • Confidence to stand up for your point of view
  • Ability to protect yourself or friends from threats
  • Greater flexibility, leading to fewer injuries
  • Higher bone density and tendon strength giving more strength and leading to fewer breaks
  • Knowing your body’s limits and how to push them safely
  • And the list goes on and on…

There are almost no other sports or activities that can match a good Karate or martial arts program. Karate helps with anger problems, no doubt.

Self Discipline Through Karate Helps Control Anger Responses

Self discipline is the cornerstone of controlling emotions. We are required to uphold rules and order whether we feel like it or not. Feelings are actual experiences, but are results of our own self discipline or lack there of.

For example, kids usually get angry during times they are required to do something they don’t wish to do. Bed time comes to mind when most think of when kids become defiant, but there are other times as well.

We have all been in the store when a child looses their control over their own emotions. Many would call it a tantrum, but I call it a strategic plan for control subconsciously implanted in a child’s brain through past failures and successes getting their whims or desires met.

At its heart, anger is usually centered on control. We are angry when someone disrespects us because we couldn’t control their opinion and actions toward us. We want a specific image to be had by all that encounter us and when that is not achieved, emotions rise.

This is the same for many issues in children. They don’t want to go to bed. They want to do what they want and not what their parents want. Anger rises and their brains begin to go through the things that have achieved this desire for control in the past. Sometimes tantrums work, sometimes crying, and sometimes pleading.

When the result is anger, it is really not that they don’t like mom or dad. They simply want the same mom or dad at that moment to give in. This is not actually what they need, but at these ages they can’t distinguish between wants and needs.

Karate training stresses right behavior for one main reason. The techniques meant for good and defense can easily be used in anger and ill will to harm others. This mandates that instructors are ethical and that they set upright examples for the kids under their instruction.

Anger can be managed by the self control that Karate stands upon. Students must show that they have the self discipline to keep themselves in check before they are taught things that could be used to harm. If an instructor is careful with instruction, they can teach in a way that promotes good character and self control.

Emotions can control us and our kids, or we can control them. Emotions are a real and sometimes beneficial part of our lives. They can also cause great harm if they are not tempered by reason. Karate teaches kids to control their emotions in order to ensure that they can be taught to use reason instead of being led down rabbit holes of rash decisions.

Meekness Learned Through Karate Helps Student Rise Above Emotional Anger

What is meekness? You probably know what the modern definition has become, even if you can’t exactly put your finger on it. There is something quite significant that has been lost in this more recent change to the term.

Meekness is not a synonym of weakness, but more a synonym of strength. The qualifier here is the addition of control and willingness to use this strength to achieve a higher goal.

There is a sense in the original way kings of ancient times used to use it about themselves that points to benevolence. They tend not to assert their position with power, at least in their own estimation, but rather chose not to acquire or achieve something for themselves for the good of others.

This “strength under control” is the foundation of what Karate teaches. There is no place for uncontrolled emotional outbursts or imposing your will upon someone else. Martial arts for non military personnel, and this includes children, is for self defense, the defense of others, and self improvement.

Anger can be a great motivator or a fast track to bad decisions. When kids are overcome by the emotion they need to be shown that it is a normal part of life, but one that has definite boundaries. If those boundaries are crossed, it brings bad consequences.

Karate is a great aid in helping kids identify these boundaries and develop good habits in curbing actions that would violate them. In order to learn, they must practice, even when they don’t ‘feel’ like it. They cannot force their will on others, no matter how strong their desire to do so is. A proper Karate instructor will hold back their testing and even class attendance when notified of bullying or physical coercion.

Meekness also goes a step further. It advocates going without in order to let others have what they need. This is an even higher goal than simply controlling personal impulses. This is seeking a higher good. Martial arts teaches this by advocating standing up for those that are weaker and in need of assistance.

Karate is not about selfishly protecting self and forsaking others. It is about the betterment of the self and society as a whole. Many black belt testing requirements at many well run classes include community service and recommendation letters that attest to this good character quality.

With earning a black belt such a coveted goal, and the esteem of an instructor inextricably connected to those that achieve it, kids learn that there are many other things in life that should direct action rather than purely emotion.

I am not making the claim that anger in an of itself is a bad thing. Like I said, it can be a great motivator. Properly used and contained, it is a useful byproduct in our lives. The problem comes when it is allowed to be elevated above this and dictate actions and even motivations.

Giving Proper Respect To Others Through Karate Training Creates Peacemakers

Seeing others as valuable and not as simply a means to an end is important in a child’s development. They inherently confuse their own desires and needs as well as many times fail to recognize the needs of others. Karate helps to teach respect of others and their requirements. Respect inherently controls anger when others are involved.

Advancement through rank and recognition can be dependent on soliciting the help of others. This comes in the form of training partners that give the proper help and resistance when needed. Though Karate and other martial arts are primarily an individual journey, this path often requires the help of others.

In a study published in the journal Child Development and funded by Arizona State University, researchers found that children that were more socially aware of the role of others reacted to conflict and anger in ways that preserved social relationships and and minimized further conflict.

Those that give others respect become peacemakers. This is the ultimate goal of the martial arts. Peacemakers are an invaluable commodity in any culture and society. Where most cultures fall is where intrinsic value of the individual comes into conflict with goals centered on power and control.

It is important to teach kids that there are things more important than desires. Respect through Karate training shows them the most important things in life are people. To protect yourself and those who cannot protect themselves is of the highest noble character.

This is at the center of proper martial arts training. Karate helps with anger management by centering everything on people and giving them the proper respect.

The Karate Helping With Anger Takeaway…

Through short and long term goals, kids are shown how to look past the fog of emotion and use reason and discipline to better themselves. They are taught to control their actions even in the midst of overwhelming emotion.

Anger can be a great motivator if kept in check. Most kids are not born with the ability to naturally control their emotions. They need training and positive role models to help them develop these skills.

Karate helps with anger in aiding students to control themselves through self discipline, meekness, and respect. There is no other activity for kids or adults for that matter that can offer such benefits.

Mathew Booe

Mathew Booe is a father of four, husband to Jackie since 1994, retired international competitor with over 50 wins, an international seminar instructor, a master instructor of hundreds of Little Ninjas each week, and the one bringing you the great content like you just read. Sign up for the newsletter to hear about his upcoming books before they are released to the public.

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