How do we build confidence??

 in Bradenton - Ancient Ways Martial Arts Academy

We constantly tell people that we develop confidence in our students, but what does that mean and how exactly do we do that?

To be honest, of all the benefits martial arts training can give, I feel like this is the one that impacts people the most. Everyone could stand to be more confident, and sometimes low confidence doesn’t appear like low confidence, sometimes it seems like it’s the opposite.

Sure, some parents notice their kids are shy and don’t make friends easily. Some notice that in group activities, the child doesn’t participate or may hang “with the pack” instead of trying to stand out. I’ve had a few tell me their kids do great in school except when it comes to doing anything in front of the class. Some want their child to stand up to a bully, or to speak louder when asked a question. Even the adult who says, “I want to learn to defend myself” is really saying, “I don’t feel very confident out in the world right now and want to train to defend myself so I don’t feel that way any longer.”  

But like I said, sometimes low confidence can appear to be the exact opposite. Working our Ancient Ways booth at a community event once, I had a lady tell me, “My kid doesn’t need more confidence, he has plenty of that. You can tell because he mouths off to me all the time and gets in trouble for being the class clown at school.”

I politely smiled and nodded to her, but inside I’m thinking, “Confidence may not be exactly what you think it is.”

If her son was confident, would he feel the need to seek the attention of others and try to make them laugh in school? If he was confident, would he, knowing he is going to be punished, seek out to derive power from his mom by being disobedient and disrespectful? Of course not, this behavior isn’t from confidence, it’s from poor confidence.

A confident child will have no problem being silent in class and will easily complete their work. A confident child has no need to draw attention to themselves with outlandish or inappropriate behavior. A confident child will be respectful and obedient because they don’t have a need to power play with authority figures, they already have power, a strong, internal power that comes with confidence.

When considering the type of confidence we hope to develop in our students, I think of the determined confidence of Rosa Parks, the quiet resolve of the Winston Churchill, or just about any of the many Chuck Norris or Clint Eastwood characters. A confident person doesn’t seek out attention or have prideful power plays with others. There is no need. Their ego is not in need of feeding.

So how exactly does martial arts training at Ancient Ways develop confidence?

The skills we learn as martial artists are not just a fun recreational activity, it has real life application that most activities don’t have. That immediately makes it easier for the student to apply the confidence they gain to their life outside the training hall. They learn new technique starting on day one. They see themselves improve each and every single day that they train. They bond with their fellow students and are taught to edify and uplift one another. They are praised for their effort and spotlighted to the other students to show off their progress. Not an easy thing, but gives them immense confidence. “I was terrified when the instructor asked me to demonstrate to the class, but I did it well and everyone applauded me afterwards.” The physical rewards are the tips they earn on their belts and their new belt ranks. With each advancement their feelings soar, and the immense ceremony celebrating their advancement lets them know they are worthwhile human beings from all those gathered to share in their experience.

We see the improvements almost immediately and they continue for years. Having taught for 35 years, I am proud when some of my students have really had to defend their lives, and did so successfully, but each student, all of them, have seen improved confidence. Maybe it helped them to walk with a confident bearing that discouraged a would-be-attacker. Maybe that confidence helped them to overcome their fears and seek that career they really wanted. I hope they confidently tackle the work load necessary to accomplish their goals in college or trade school. Perhaps it gives them the strength to stand up to their abusive spouse or, if they are kids, to the bully in school.

Everyone, even super confident people can become more confident and I know of no better way to improve it in all parts of our lives than through martial arts training.

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