5 Ways Martial Arts Support Social and Emotional Learning

KOMA Taekwondo

August 17, 2017

Important life lessons are learned in between the kicking and punching.  At KOMA we are committed to support our students' social and emotional learning along their path to becoming compassionate and capable leaders.

What is social and emotional learning?

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), social and emotional learning is “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”  Social and emotional learning is crucial for a student’s success because  it strengthens the ability to integrate skills, attitudes, and behaviors to deal effectively and ethically with challenges that a person faces every day.

How does martial arts support social and emotional learning?

CASEL has developed a framework that evaluates social and emotional learning across intrapersonal, interpersonal, and cognitive development.  Across these areas there are five competencies used to measure social and emotional learning: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

Martial arts have been proven to strengthen skills and values that are core to each of these competencies through structured curriculum, positive relationships with instructors, and cultural values.


Self-awareness can be boiled down to the understanding of one’s strengths and limitations.  Martial arts helps students develop their self-confidence. At KOMA, it’s important that our instructors consistently help our students grow through positive affirmation and constructive criticism. During every class our students are encouraged to continue to learn new techniques and master those that they have developed over time in the journey to their next belt.


Self-management can be seen in the ability regulate one’s emotions, thought, and behaviors in different situations. It is also seen in a student’s capacity to set and work toward personal goals. Self-discipline and focus are core values across all martial arts. We work with our students to find balance across their physical, mental, and emotional well-being to overcome challenges, be it to learn a complicated form or to set a positive example to younger students.

Studying martial arts is also rooted in the belt system. The students at KOMA develop skills for both short-term and long-term goal setting. In pursuit of their overall goal of earning their black belt, we encourage our students to take pride in accomplishments along the way from mastering a complicated block to seeing the positive character traits and values they have developed.

Social awareness:

Empathy and inclusion are important to developing strong leaders, which is why community service is a core part of our curriculum for students earning their black belt. From the first day, respect for our fellow students, instructors, and our community is instilled not just as a cultural norm of an Asian martial art, but also as a value that imperative for personal success.

Relationship skills:

The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups is a vital component of a person’s success in school, at work, at home and in the community. Through the positive relationship that our students build with our instructors they are able to transform from shy or self-conscious individuals into confident and dynamic leaders.  Many of our students go on to become leaders not only at KOMA, but also in the broader community.  They are able to communicate effectively, listen to the needs of our students and their families, cooperate well, and ask for help when needed.

Responsible Decision-making:

Our students understand the importance of making good choices and having good personal behavior. At KOMA, we emphasize making good decisions about their overall health and wellness. From consistent class attendance to respectful behavior at home and at school, we make sure that our students build positive habits for their success.

KOMA’s mission is to build character through martial arts excellence. We know that there is a lot more to martial arts than kicking high and punching fast. Our inclusive and encouraging culture encourages our students to become confident, compassionate, and capable leaders.