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7 Ways Karate Helps With Anger

I did karate for a few years and noticed that after new students have been training for a while their personality changes. 

They become more calm and confident, so I thought I’d write this article to explain how karate helps with anger.

So, how does karate help with anger? Karate helps with anger by providing an outlet for your anger. When you hit pads, and make the vocal sounds in karate, it releases your pent-up anger. It also develops values such as patience and discipline which make you feel calm and easygoing.

I made a shortlist of the 7 best ways that karate helps with anger. 

1. You burn off a lot of energy

2. You hit pads which expresses your anger in a safe environment

3. You develop inner self-discipline – so you can control your anger

4. You feel more of a sense of community and friendship

5. You develop self-confidence where you don’t need to prove anything

6. You learn about different cultures and values. Such as patience.

7. You can compete in a safe environment.

I’ll explain them in more detail below:

1. You burn off a lot of energy

A study done at the University of Southern Illinois found that exercise increases a person’s ability to handle stress. 

Because the exercise feels hard, when stressful or difficult situations come up, it’s easier to remain calm, and to persevere through the issue.

When a person gets angry they often want to yell or attack a person, or thing. But, if they’ve already had a workout, or done some hard physical activity they don’t have the energy to get angry.

In most karate schools you’ll do a warm-up for 30 minutes or so before class. This involves running, press-ups, sit-ups, squats, throwing strikes, and forward and backward rolls.

Altogether, this gets a karateka – people who practice karate – huffing, puffing, and exhausted. As a result after training, and until the next day, you feel calmer and less irritable.

2. You hit pads which expresses your anger in a safe environment

I remember reading in a book somewhere that if you hit pads, chop wood, or hammer nails it releases your anger. And I can say that it does work. Afterward, I always feel a lot calmer.

However, recent studies have shown that hitting pads increases aggression in the short term, as shown by Psychology Today

As part of the study, they had some of the participants hit a punching bag, whereas others did nothing. They then had all of them play a competitive game together. It was found that the people who hit a punching bag were more competitive. 

Although this is an interesting finding. In my opinion, the study didn’t look at the longer-term effects on a person’s anger.

And created conditions in their study similar to getting worked up for a fight and being in a fight or flight state. Which naturally makes a person feel more aggressive.

Based on that, I think it still holds true that if you hit pads in a controlled environment, you’ll release your anger during that time. And half an hour or an hour after class you’ll be all calmed down and exhausted to where you won’t have the energy to be aggressive.

3. You develop inner self discipline – so you can control your anger

As part of going through the motions of karate, you need to have precise movements which require your full concentration. Particularly if you’re training for sport karate, where you need to score points against an opponent.

This develops your ability to stick to a task and not get sidetracked. Oftentimes when a person gets angry, they are at the whim of their environment. 

Someone could do something that was rude or that they didn’t like that rubs them the wrong way and they get really angry.

Through training karate, you develop the discipline to stay on track in whatever task you’re doing, even if it’s just going to the supermarket or reading a comment online. If someone does something you don’t like, you don’t really sweat and just carry on.

Because at the end of the day, you know that a fight is hard, time-consuming, energy consuming, and can be a painful physical encounter. And some people are having the kind of day where they’re just looking for any reason to get angry. 

Through your karate training, you learn that it’s best to avoid them and carry on with your life.

This then becomes a habit. And over time you get angry less and less on a daily basis.

4. You feel more sense of community and friendship

According to Psychology Today, when you feel part of a community you behave like your community behaves, for better or for worse. If your friends and family fly off the handle and get angry then chances are you’ll get angry in the same way. 

Most karate skills put an emphasis on values such as respect, kindness, and diligence.

So, when you’re part of a karate club that puts a big importance on these values, you’ll pick up these traits automatically, without any effort on your part. And as a result, experience less anger.

5. You develop self confidence – to where you don’t need to prove anything

Having a game plan for how you’ll handle a serious confrontation gives you a sense of confidence where you’re not so on edge in your everyday life.

The American Psychology Association says that bullies are often anxious, insecure, unhappy, and have low self-esteem.

This causes them to feel the need to put other people down to feel superior. This can be either verbally or physically. When you know how to fight by learning karate or another martial art, people get a sense they can’t intimidate you physically.

Even if you don’t walk around like a ‘tough guy’. This leads to fewer problems in your life and causes fewer feelings of anger.

In addition, when someone tries to instigate a fight with you, you don’t get triggered and flare-up in response. Because you know you know what a fight is like, and are able to drop your ego and do what’s best for you.

Which, in almost every case, is getting away from an aggressive person rather than getting angry back.

6. You learn about different cultures, and values. Such as, patience

When you do karate you get to meet all different types of people, who work different jobs, are from different countries, and have different hobbies.

This helps you get along with many different types of people. You’ll also understand people’s differences so that when they do things a bit differently, you don’t get offended or angry.

For example, in Japanese culture, it’s considered polite to bow to each other as a sign of acknowledgment. But, in western cultures typically you greet with a handshake. 

Different cultures also put emphasis on different values. As an example in some cultures, family is very important and children live with their parents until they get married. Whereas, in other cultures, children leave home when they finish high school.

Being aware of the differences through talking with different people and getting to know them helps you to understand people better and you don’t get as angry because of minor differences in what’s considered ‘normal’ behavior.

7. You can compete in a safe environment

Expressing your competitive nature is fun and enjoyable and brings out new abilities and skills. But, it’s important that your karate school has a good culture. I covered how to choose a karate school recently in this article.

Fostering healthy competition is known to increase productivity, and by competing with others in karate you learn aspects of fighting that don’t present themselves through ‘shadow boxing’ and training without a partner.

But, developing these skills can often be wrought with injury and bad feelings. So, being able to express your competitive side through karate sparring and competition can be a great way to satisfy this aspect of your personality.

Without an outlet, your competitive nature can come out at the wrong time and be expressed as anger, and aggressiveness. Therefore, being able to compete in a safe environment, and among friends is one of the ways karate helps with anger.

Summing Up

I’ll briefly cover the main points I covered in this article in a summary. 

Karate helps with anger in a few ways. 

First, the exercise burns off all your physical energy, so you don’t have as much bite in your mood. It also teaches you values such as patience and respect, which causes you to behave differently, and get less angry. 

On top of that, the skills you develop give you an inner sense of confidence from knowing how to handle yourself, and you don’t feel the need to prove your ability by getting angry.

You also learn about other cultures and are more understanding of where other people are coming from and can express your competitive side in a healthy and safe way.