Don't be fooled, Taekwon-do is a contact sport. Although we may safely practice no contact sparring in the dojang, eventually we will all get kicked and punched...hard! I mean think about it, we put on protective gear and throw our hands and feet at faces. Contact will happen, and when it does it's normal to get angry. Whether you are a 5 year old white belt just starting your journey toward black belt, or a wise Grand Master with unwavering self control, we all get angry. So what exactly is anger and how can we control it?
Anger is a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure or hostility. This best describes getting punched in the face. But what's the root cause of anger? In the brain, the amygdala releases catecholamines preparing you for physical action. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are also released, increasing your blood pressure and accelerating your heart rate pushing blood to your extremities. This chemical reaction prepares the body for what is known as the 'fight or flight' response. When we get angry our judgment can become cloudy, causing us to be more reactionary than rational.
To tame anger we use our prefrontal cortex which is responsible for controlling our judgment. In stressful situations, studies show more brain activity in the prefrontal cortex in rational people than aggressive ones. This is not to say that if you react with an angry kick to your opponents gut you have an antisocial personality disorder, rather it means you may need to practice more mental focus. So how can we practice mental focus to keep us calm in times of anger?
Tips to Control Anger
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