GRIT: The key to success in school—and also in life—is not necessarily intelligence or talent. What separates the high achievers from the rest are traits like self-control, perseverance, determination, passion and resilience. In a word, grit. Research, such as that conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, has actually measured the effect of grit on performance, but we in taekwon-do have know this for decades. That’s because we have developed grit in kids thousands of times.
In a good traditional martial arts school, it takes a heaping amount of grit to get from white blet to black belt. Many do not make it, yet some students who started with the least natural ability have gone the farthest because they stuck with it, persevered, and made themselves into superior martial artists. If they can do that, they can do just about anything they set their minds to.
Grit is the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals. Self-control is the voluntary regulation of behavioral, emotional, and attentional impulses in the presence of momentarily gratifying temptations or diversions. Both are necessary to progress in taekwon-do. A black belt is a long-term goal, as it takes at the minimum three years to achieve, which to a kid is an eternity. Self-control is required to not only avoid injuring oneself or another student, but to stay focused on the instruction in class and not disrupt other students.
Life isn’t getting any easier. To make it in tomorrow’s world will require core values found in the martial arts: self-discipline, strategic thinking, perseverance, integrity and indomitable spirit.
Students who study Taekwon-do also do better in school. In Taekwon-do, they gain self-discipline and self-confidence. They learn to focus and to think quickly and clearly. All of these things then get transferred to the academic classroom with positive results. Check out Taekwon-do for Kids.
In Taekwon-do, students practice patterns of moves called Hyungs. There are 25 Hyungs. Two of them, viewed from overhead, draw the Korean word for scholar.
We can’t claim that taekwon-do makes everyone a candidate for a Nobel Prize, but we have an awfully high percentage of scholars. At Traditional Taekwon-do, more than 80% of our students who graduate from high school attend college.