The Exploration of the Effect of Taekwondo Training on Personality Traits

Abstract

In
this paper, the authors analyze the effects of Taekwondo training
on personality. The authors found that Taekwondo participants
realize, that in addition to the physical training, Taekwondo
emphasizes concentration, self-control and self-discipline.
Other researchers suggest that Taekwondo training has many
psychological benefits, such as enhanced self-esteem, self-concept,
reduced aggressiveness, decreased anxiety, increase in personal
independence, and ability to take a leadership role. Taekwondo
training might be used as a therapeutic program.

Introduction

Although
the relationship between certain aspects of self-concept and
performance in activities such as aerobic dance, soccer, volleyball,
and handball has been reported (Plummer & Koh, 1987; Harter,
1978; Olszewskal, 1982; Scanlan & Passer, 1979), little
evidence exists regarding the psychological value of the martial
arts. Miller (1989) states that self-concept may be enhanced
through the acquisition or mastery of a new skill. Novices
are most likely to gain self-concept through participation
in physical activities. Finkenberg (1990) studied the effect
of participation in Taekwondo on college women’s self-concept
and found significant differences on total self-concept and
on subscale scores in physical, personal, social identity,
and satisfaction. Therefore, the authors believe that the
Taekwondo training is of great psychological value to participants.

The
Background of Taekwondo

Taekwondo
has been under constant evolution for over several thousand
years. However, it was not until the 1950s that Taekwondo
was standardized and organized by Gen Choi Hong Hi and the
sport was brought outside the Korean borders, at first to
Vietnam and the US, and later to the rest of the world. Today,
Taekwondo is organized in three international federations:
the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), with headquarters in
Seoul, Korea; the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF),
with headquarters in Austria; and the Global Taekwondo Federation
(GTF) with headquarters in Korea. Taekwondo has recently been
declared an official Olympic sport with the first competitions
held during the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, in 2000
(Lucas, 1992).

According
to Skelton (1991), one may benefit from the study of Taekwondo
regardless of age, size, or athletic ability. Taekwondo training
can increase strength and muscle tone, reduce body fat, improve
cardiovascular conditioning and endurance, improve balance
and coordination, reduce stress, improve concentration and
focus, improve performance in one’s job, school, or sports,
provide a structured program of advancement with achievable
goals, and improve self discipline and self confidence.

Effects
of Taekwondo Training on Personality

Finkenberg
(1990) studied the effects of participation in Taekwondo on
college women’s self-concept. The experimental group contained
51 women enrolled in Taekwondo classes, and the control group
contained 49 women enrolled in 4 sections of general health
courses. Pretests and posttests were administered in the first
week of a semester and the last week of the semester. The
Tennessee Self-Concept Scale (Roid and Fitts, 1989) measuring
self-concept was used as the instrument in this study. The
questionnaire was used to assess perceptions of physical self,
moral-ethical self, personal self, family self, social self,
identity, self-satisfaction, and behavior. Roid and Fitts
(1989) support the test’s reliability and validity. An analysis
of Covariance was used to control statistically for initial
differences in self-concept among subjects with the pretest
scores as the covariant. The results indicated that significant
differences were found on total self-concept and on sub-scale
scores in physical, personal, social, identity, and satisfaction.
Insignificant differences were found on moral-ethical, family,
behavior and self-criticism scales. The authors concluded
that the total self-concept and certain sub-scales were influenced
by participation in an 8-weeks course in Taekwondo. This study
supports the findings of Duthie, et al. (1978) who showed
that students of martial arts were more self-confident than
those without training. It also supports the conclusion that
“it could be assumed that one or two months of karate
training is sufficient to improve the typical student’s level
of general self-esteem” (Richman & Rehberg, 1986).

In
a study addressing aggressive behavior as a function of Taekwondo
ranking, Skelton, et al. (1991) investigated the relationship
between aggressive behavior and advancement through the belt
ranks among children in the American Taekwondo Association
(ATA). The sample consisted of 68 children, from the ages
6 to 11 years old, who were enrolled in 10 ATA schools located
in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Illinois. The parents of the
students answered the survey form. One-way Analysis of Variance
indicated a significant inverse relationship between the children’s
belt rank and their aggression. A trend analysis was performed
to help clarify the nature of the relationship between the
two variables (belt rank and aggressive score). Results suggested
that there was a significant trend towards reduced aggression
with advanced ATA group rank. The authors suggested that further
research should include longitudinal reassessments of aggression
of the children beginning at the lower ranks and continuing
as they progress through the higher Taekwondo ranks to confirm
the conclusion.

Kurian
et al. (1994) studied the relationship between personality
factors and ATA Taekwondo training in a sample of younger
students. The subjects were 72 boys attending two ATA schools
in the southwestern United States. Subjects completed the
1973 Form A of the Children’s Personality Questionnaire following
a regular training session. The questionnaire contains 14
bipolar primary factors. Correlation analysis for the test
factors with age, training time, and belt rank of the sample
was conducted. Factor A (reserved versus outgoing) correlated
significantly with age. Training time was significantly related
to Factor N (naive versus socially perceptive), suggesting
that longer times in Taekwondo training are associated with
more socially perceptive behavior. Belt rank was significantly
correlated with Factors D (+), F (+), I (-), and N (+). These
correlations indicate that attainment of higher belt rank
is associated with scores indicating more demanding, enthusiastic
and optimistic, self-reliant, and socially perceptive personality
traits. The author concluded, ” These results suggest
that ATA belt rank is associated with a pattern of enthusiastic
optimism and self-reliance. This personality pattern is socially
positive and suggests that Taekwondo training may be beneficial
for younger male students”.

In
a study on personality characteristics and duration of ATA
Taekwondo training, Kurian et al. (1993) compared personality
characteristics of two groups having participated in Taekwondo
for different lengths of time. The subjects were 30 adults
attending two American Taekwondo Association schools in the
southwestern United States. They averaged 2.6 years of Taekwondo
training (range of 17 to 44 years old). Form C of the 16 Personality
Factor Questionnaire (Cattell, 1980) containing 105 items
distributed across 16 bipolar primary factor scales was used
as the instrument. The groups with shorter time (less than
1.4 years) and longer time (more than 1.5 years) in Taekwondo
training were compared using a t-Test for the mean scores
of Anxiety, Independence and Leadership. The results indicated
that the length of Taekwondo participation was associated
with lower scores on Anxiety and with higher scores on Independence.
The authors suggested that lower scores on Anxiety and higher
scores on Independence often accompany improved mental health,
suggesting that participation in Taekwondo training may be
useful as part of therapeutic programs.

Summary

This
study was expected to contribute to an understanding of the
psychological value of Taekwondo. The study was also expected
to provide more insight into the beneficial effects of Taekwondo
training for both physical educators and Taekwondo trainees.
Research suggests that Taekwondo training may have many psychological
benefits, such as enhanced self-esteem, self-concept (Columbus
& Rice, 1991, cited from Kurian et al., 1993 ; Finkenberg,
1990), and reducing aggressiveness (Skelton, 1991). In the
study of Kurian et al. (1993), it was indicated that Taekwondo
training could decrease scores on anxiety and increase scores
on personal independence and ability to take a leadership
role. Furthermore, Kurian et al. (1993) concluded that participation
of Taekwondo training might be used as a therapeutic program.
Finkenberg (1990) found that Taekwondo training was helpful
for college women to build self-concept.

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