Character Chats

Relaxing the Anger Away

How do we relax the anger out of our bodies, and think through some solutions?

Here at True Balance Karate, we have a social and emotional learning program called True Character. And this month we’re talking about anger management.

Last month, we talked about impulse control, and anger management goes right along with that.

How do we stop and think when we are in the middle of feeling angry?

I’m Master H, chief instructor and owner here at the studio. I have two Master’s Degrees in Education, and basically what that means is, I’ve taken all of that classroom knowledge from teaching kindergarten through eighth grade and applied it here at the studio so that we have this social and emotional program that meets the needs of all of our students, from as young as three to as old as 83.


And like I said, this month, we’re talking about anger management. And how can we relax that anger out of our bodies?

Now earlier, we talked about how sometimes we feel anger in our fists or in our shoulders or in our bodies, in those kinds of ways, where we get our muscles all tense.

Tense to Relax

One of the ways that we can relax our anger out of our body is to make ourselves make those fists and clench those muscles.

What do I mean by that? Well, let’s say we have one of our own kids who are crying and they say, “Well, I’m really angry.” “Okay. Let’s clench all of our muscles, super-duper tight, make them super tight, make them as angry as you possibly can, and then I want you to relax all those muscles and let them all loose.”

So now we’re teaching them a coping strategy to help them move past their anger.

Letting Go of Anger

I am reminded of a student I had once who was in third grade, and he was sitting across from me from the table, and he looked at me and he goes, “I am so angry at you right now.” And he made a fist and he kind of thumped it on the table.

And I looked at him and I said, “And that’s okay, you can be angry at me. But if you act on your anger here will be your consequences. You’re going to find yourself suspended because we know we’re not allowed to hit teachers at school. I’m going to have to call your house, they’re going to have to know what happens.”

And he literally had his hand like a fist, and I watched him open up each individual finger and lay them on the table to try to let go of some of his anger that he was feeling at me right at that moment.

Which was good for him because that was the first time he managed his anger in a more positive way, meaning he didn’t act upon it physically.

He took responsibility for it and broke down his anger into something that he could then control.

So that’s one way, teaching somebody how to physically relax their whole body.

Thinking it Through

Another way would have to do with talking and thinking about how we feel when we’re angry, taking a moment and taking stock of what that means.

Does that mean that our faces are all scrunched up? Because if our faces are scratched up, we need to think about each of those muscles in our faces and letting them all relax.

Does that mean that our stomach is kind of churning and we’re getting all upset? Because if that’s the case that we have to think about relaxing all of those muscles across our middle, and taking those big belly breaths, to expand those muscles and relax those muscles.

Talking it Out

Another thing would have to do with working on those calming questions, working on those, “I feel this way because…”

Let’s take, for example, we have a student here at the studio, and they’re sitting up front and they’re coloring on their papers. And a fellow karate person walks over, grabs a crayon and scribbles all over that paper.

Well, obviously the person that was sitting there coloring is going to get angry, they’re going to get upset.

Then we need to teach them how to use ‘I feel’ statements, “That made me feel angry when you did this, when you scribbled on my paper.”

They need to learn to recognize what was the cause of the anger. Why did we feel that way?

And then able to think through a solution, “Please don’t do that anymore. Here, take this paper and scribble there. Don’t scribble on mine.”

Finding those solutions helps us manage our anger in a more positive way.

Explaining Our Feelings

Using those ‘I feel’ statements puts it on us rather than, “You did this.”

When we become accusatory, that is going to make the other person very upset, and very defensive, and very angry.

But when we use statements of “I felt,” or, “I noticed,” or, “My perception is,” now it’s put on me to show you how my point of view is, which going to help us manage our anger even more.

And then we can build those positive relationships.

I’ve actually put that into place myself when working with other instructors here in the studio, around the region, within our association, using those more ‘I notice’ statements or my perception, has actually helped to solve problems, it has helped to clarify miscommunications, it has helped to put everybody on the same page, so any misunderstandings are cleared up because if this is how I saw it, but that’s not how you meant it, now we can have those conversations without involving anger and angst and feelings.

It becomes more of a thoughtful conversation rather than an emotional conversation.

Working Through Anger

Anger has a place, yes. We need to recognize anger, absolutely. We need to acknowledge it, we can’t bury it, but we also need to find those positive solutions to be able to talk with other and to teach our students and our kids how to have those conversations, even when we’re feeling emotional.

Because when we can take some of that away and acknowledge it at the same time, it helps us in our communication skills.

It helps to make sure we’re all on the same page, and it gives us a moment to relax and calm down and look at a problem and see solutions we may have missed when we were emotional.

Thanks. And I’ll see you on the mat.

True Balance Karate was founded in 2012 by Master Sue and Paul Helsdon.

We offer kids karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up. These lessons are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need — specialized for their age group — for school excellence and later success in life.

Our adult martial arts training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week at 630-663-2000. You can also contact us here.