Empowering Our Girls: Strength In Confidence
14 Ways Martial Arts Training Can Help Raise Confident Girls
I have been teaching girls self-defense and martial arts for the past 30 years and have been introduced to many martial arts and different teachers along the way. I cannot tell you how many times I have witnessed a quiet, shy girl transform into an assertive, confident person through the practice of a martial art.
Confident girls are less likely to become bullies and less likely to be bullied. True confidence comes from accepting oneself as a unique and special being, just like everybody else. The most confident people always respect others and are among the most respected by others.
Don’t we want this for our girls? I know I want my own daughter to grow to be confident, strong, able to stand up for herself and others and to be able to fight for her safety if necessary.
Most martial arts schools have confidence builders built right into their classes. Here are 14 ways I have found martial arts training able to strengthen confidence in our girls:
- A supportive group environment. This allows each girl to feel accepted by her peers in the context of having a shared experience The underlying principle of respecting others within the martial arts school lays a wonderful framework to learn to fit in, despite differences. For some, this may be a welcome change from their academic settings.
- A ranking system. Belts gives girls a sense of accomplishment. They learn to set goals and work hard to reach them. Ranking systems also help girls build a realistic understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses, which is necessary for building confidence.
- Physical fitness. Exercise is essential to a girl’s ownership and pride in her body. When she feels her own physical strength, she is more likely to stand confidently and even speak up for herself more easily
- Sparring. Girls learn how to stay calm when placed in an unfamiliar situation. Sparring gives them the opportunity to see how they respond internally and externally when “strikes” are being thrown or when they attempt to throw “strikes” at others.
- Forms. Forms, choreographed sequences of movements specific to each style, help to integrate the mind, body and spirit and this knowledge and experience inspires a sense of wholeness and personal power
- Guiding principles. Principles such as honesty, integrity, respect, humility and indomitable spirit build positive character traits in our girls.
- Striking to pads. Padwork gives girls the chance to hit with all their might. This is where they learn how strong they really can be.
- A fun learning experience. Girls just wanna have fun. Don’t we all? When kids are happy, they learn more easily and the power of their personalities gets to shine.
- Practical self-defense skills. These skills should be a part of the curriculum. Girls learning to defend themselves against grabs or unwanted touch is essential to their well-being. They need to be taught that it is their right to be free from physical harm.
- Verbal self-defense skills. These skills are essential to everyday interactions. Role-playing different relevant scenarios is the best way to get the girls involved in solving problems that they are facing at school or with friends. These skills include setting limits and talking about feelings that might arise.
- Role models. Teachers and assistants in the martial arts school should be loving, kind and respectful to each and every student.
- Leadership opportunities. Some schools allow students to help instruct other students. I always love seeing the older students helping the younger ones. Giving girls the chance to share their knowledge with others, only proves to increase their confidence in their own skill and it always feels good to help others.
- A time for sharing. In order for girls to feel confident in themselves, it is important to have the space to express themselves and to be being listened to.
- Meditation. What a great way to help foster self-awareness!
I believe martial arts training for girls is an outstanding way to bolster self-confidence as they navigate through the ups and downs of childhood. There are so many valuable life lessons to teach through the martial arts. In my opinion, the most important aspect of the martial arts to bring into a girl’s life, is strengthening the connection between the mind, heart, voice and spirit. This will provide a strong foundation for a lifetime.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nancy has been empowering girls since 1985. She teaches self-defense, martial arts and life lessons at her studio in Northampton and beyond. Nancy is also a bodyworker, blogger, love of life and most importantly, a mom. You can read her latest blog posts at nancyrothenberg.com.