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Helping students cope


Many students today have feelings of failure and disaffection. The martial arts may help these students cope with their feelings of discouragement and alienation.

Borba (1992) mentions some elements necessary to break the cycle of discouragement and give students a sense of achievement and self-worth. Borba makes the point that in every case where a change has been affected, there were significant adult mentors who recognized a special talent in the student and cultivated and strengthened that talent. This is where martial arts instructors can make a difference in the lives of students


  • Feeling of security. New martial arts students not only need to feel safe from injury but also safe from negative instruction. Instructors should continuously compliment students and avoid put downs and comparisons to others. Students need to know it is okay to make mistakes and that they will not be singled out as examples of poor performance. 
  • Feeling of self-worth. A martial arts class is a great place to realize one’s potential and develop a talent to its maximum. Instructors should help students develop confidence by giving them a realistic view of their strengths. 
  • An atmosphere conducive to learning. The martial arts school should be a place that students want to be; a place where they feel a part of the class and feel they may contribute. Instructors should cultivate a sense of belonging in students by helping them set and accomplish realistic goals, which gives them a feeling of accomplishment. 
  • Feeling of control. When students feel they are not in control of their lives, they tend not to accept responsibility for their actions and feel that their actions are controlled by others. They look outside themselves for direction and encouragement. The martial arts give students an opportunity to see the cause and effect of their actions and attitudes and to take responsibility for them.
  • Borba, M. (1992). Strengthening At-Risk Students’ Achievement and Behavior. Bureau of Education & Research.

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