Positive Youth Development through Taekwondo

By: Laura J

We all know that physical activity and recreation can foster positive youth development (PYD). I would have to say that combat sports and martial arts, specifically Taekwondo, foster PYD in a way that not many other sports or activities can. Taekwondo can be mistaken for simply teaching children how to fight without addressing all of the positive benefits the sport has. Many, if not all of the Principles of Youth Development are met through participation in Taekwondo. The characteristics of environments that foster PYD are found in the Taekwondo club atmosphere or environment in one way or another. Overall, youth participation in Taekwondo is nothing but beneficial, not only to the child, but to their peers and family as well.

Taekwondo has five tenets that coaches and students/athletes must follow. The five tenets are: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit. Some of these may be a bit foggy to understand, especially for a child, but they are reinforced practice after practice, year after year. These five tenets have the goal of encouraging politeness and respect to all other athletes/students and elders inside and outside of the club, to strive to be honest and live with moral principles, being patient, and being a stronger person, both mentally and physically.

In terms of the Principles of Youth Development I can confidently say that 9/10 principles are always met. Principle #9: Deliberate design of SOPs is not always 100% met, because not all of the coaches and teachers have training specifically for working with children, such as HIGH FIVE training. Keep in mind that many coaching positions are volunteer and are sometimes students themselves.

It has been proven that participation in martial arts, such as Taekwondo improves behaviours and decreases violence in schools and assists in the development of at-risk children along with children with disorders such as autism. Studies have shown that with the practice of Taekwondo as a child can help grow different developmental domains, such as cognitive, social and behavioural, not only in the Taekwondo environment, but outside the club (Gore, 2014). At-risk students have demonstrated higher grades and lower levels of violence in school after participating in Taekwondo classes (Gore, 2014).

Taekwondo has been known to improve balance, particularly in developing children and children with developmental disorders. In one particular study done by Yumi Kim, participants with autism had improved balance and stability after enduring an 8-week Taekwondo training program. Kim suggests that Taekwondo could be used as a therapeutic option for children with disorders such as autism because of the such fantastic results she witnessed. (Kim, 2015).

Furthermore, Taekwondo undoubtedly fosters the 5C’s of Positive Youth Development: competence, confidence, connection, character and caring/compassion. As you can tell now, Taekwondo isn’t just a silly form of exercise and can dramatically impact youth development. Taekwondo teaches how to react to real-life situations whether it be by using physical or cognitive abilities. No matter if the child who is participating has a disability or not, Taekwondo can very well improve their quality of life and enhance youth development.



Class notes September 16th and 21st

Gore, J. (2014). The Martial Arts and Adolescent Development. Retrieved from:   https://www.academia.edu/Download

Kim, Y. (2015). Effects of taekwondo intervention on postural control in youth with autism spectrum disorder. (Master’s thesis, California State University Northridge). Retrieved from: http://scholarworks.csun.edu/handle/10211.3/141895

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6 Responses to Positive Youth Development through Taekwondo

  1. Kris Uy says:

    Great notes and coverage of what taekwondo and martial arts is all about! Do you have a child enrolled?


    • Anonymous says:

      I have personally been participating in Taekwondo for 17 years, starting when I was just 4 years old. I also taught many classes as I got older.

  2. laurjohn says:

    I have personally been participating in Taekwondo for 17 years, starting when I was just 4 years old. I also taught many classes as I got older and still do, to kids and adults.

  3. samerymoras says:

    Awesome! Love teaching Taekwondo to kids 🙂

  4. danielleunb says:

    Laura you make a strong points and I agree with you. I wish as a child I got the chance to involved myself within martial arts, judo, or taekwondo as I feel I could have excelled in these sports as they are sports of discipline, and as an athlete discipline from a coach is something that pushes me to do my best! Good post!

  5. tristenburridge says:

    I always remember classmates being in taekwondo when I was in elementary school school and was always pretty jealous. I was always too busy with other sports but always wanted to try it. I remember always hearing about how much fun they were having. I think you’re definitely right about all of the development aspects of taekwondo other than just teaching kids how to fight.

    Also, super interesting article about the children with autism and their improvements after taekwondo, that’s one of the most interesting articles I’ve read in a while.

    Good article

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