Anger management: Tune in

The other day when I was teaching I mentioned to the students that anger management may very well be one of the most important self defenses that we could ever learn.  Think about it for a minute.  Most of us will never be kicked or punched in a violent attack that takes place in the street.  But everyone of us will be angry about something at some point and depending on if we know how to calm down and think about the choices we have, may decide how much difficulty we make for ourselves.

Here are 4 ways that we can practice calming down.
1. Take 3 deep breaths. In fact take more if that is what is needed.
2. Count to ten or count down from ten to one. 
3. Allow ourselves to listen to a friend say “calm down’, or we can practice saying it to ourselves.
4. Visualize in your mind a very peaceful place that you enjoy being.

In all 4 of these examples the idea is to get your self to a place in your head to think about all of your choices and the consequences of each one.  We need oxygen in our brain to think and when we are angry, most people’s breathing gets very shallow and quick and does not get to the brain in sufficient quantities. 

So which technique works for you? Or do you have another method that you use?  some of the kids told me that they go to their room and hit their pillow.  In my next post I will comment on that technique.

Self Control: making choices

One of the most common reasons parents bring their children to a martial arts school is to teach them about impulse control.  Doing the first thing that pops into our head without thinking through all of the possible solutions can end up in results that are less than what we hoped for.  So we are going to spend some time this month on the subject of self control. 

Our child development specialist,  Robyn Silverman, gave us this system for gaining this control.  We want to remember STEP.
Here is how it works.  S is for Stop.  First we must find a way to slow ourselves down before we do the first thing that pops into our head.  It might be taking 3 deep breaths or stepping away from a situation, but we must distract ourselves before making that decision.  T is for THINK.  Make a list of all the possible solutions you can come up with.  Some of them may seem ridiculous, but the point is to let your mind be creative and think of all of the ways you could handle this situation.  E is for EVALUATE.  Now look at each solution and decide if this would result in a good consequence or a bad one.  Is this solution safe?  Is it fair?  Some of the choices you will throw away and some you will keep.  But then you need to decide which one is going to be best for you at this time.  P is for PROCEED.  Now is the time to implement your choice.  Here is where great balance is needed as you proceed you choose what is thoughtful with being eager and gutsy.  You balance your goals and self motivation with being level headed and thoughtful.

Maintaining self control is really just about slowing down and thinking through our choices before acting on them.

Courage: making good choices

When we are faced with choices how can we be sure that we are going to make good choices, using our courage to do so.  All of us have faced choices where we became really nervous and I would dare say that all of us have made bad choices from time to time due to peer pressure or fears of some kind.  For us to make good choices though there are some simple things that we can do in that moment.



  1. Slow down.  Do not make a decision so fast that we don’t have time to clear our head and feel confident in our decision .
  2. Take some deep breaths.  Even in the most stressful situations we need to take this time to breath deeply.  This allows oxygen to get to our brain and for us to think more clearly.
  3. Talk to a trusted friend.  Who is it that you can trust to give you not just good advice but encouragement to do the correct thing based on your values.
  4. Use visioning or imaging.  Imagine in your mind the results and consequences if you choose to do one thing or the other.  See the results and check in to see how you feel about those results. If you are dealing with a fear instead of seeing yourself failing, imagine yourself completing your task successfully and imagine how you will feel when it is complete.  Using imagining can calm you down when you use it on a consistent basis.

Finally our courage can also be used to NOT do something that we know is not safe or fair.  When our conscious or ‘gut’ tells us to stop, if we are worried what our parents, mates or friends would think if they knew we were making choice to do something, it may be time to reexamine and be sure that it meets the values and ethics that are a deep part of ourselves.

Use the same steps from above to make the examination and be sure that we are making courageous decisions based on our internal influences and not the immediate external influences.  Maya Angelou voiced it well when she said; “One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”