Results of a study have indicated that children who attend taekwondo lessons better manage their emotions, behaviour, and cognition.
Research conducted by the University of Surrey studied 240 primary school-aged students across a three month period. Data showed children who attended lessons were better at self-regulating their emotions.
Self-regulation refers to the ability to manage disruptive emotions and impulses in accordance with the context of the outside environment. Good self-regulation is associated with positive mental health and higher academic achievement in children.
In addition to physical health improvements, Taekwondo and other martial arts are well known to benefit mental health through increased confidence and self-esteem, as well as broader cognitive enhancements such as self-discipline and concentration.
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Questionnaire data completed by teachers assessed individual students' mental analysed processes called executive functions that enable self-regulation. After the classes had ended, the children who attended the taekwondo lessons were rated as having improved attentional capacity than those who had participated in regular PE classes.
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Doctor Terry Ng-Knight, lecturer in psychology at the University of Surrey's School of Psychology, commented that the findings of this report further instil the value of extra-curricular activities for many children.
He said: "A large body of research suggests that there are substantial personal and public benefits to improving children's self-control. However, research is less clear on how to achieve this in practical terms.”
“Our findings suggest that including traditional martial arts in schools could both teach children the value of self-control and increase their use of self-regulation. Traditional martial arts are popular extra-curricular activities for many children. However, their use in schools appears to be quite limited at present.”