Becoming a better person
By Håkan Löf 3rd degree
This thesis will handle the subject self-confidence.
Self-confidence is a very large area where a lot of studies and work has been made and where there are
a lot of theories and methods on how to affect the self-confidence of a person. There are even entire
profession areas like “Personal coach” that very much focus on peoples self-confidence and self-
esteem in order to guide them to get a better life and achieve their goals.
In any kind of sports or athlete activities on elite level the self-confidence is an important key in order
to perform top results.
In this thesis I will give in short the official definition of self-confidence, what is god/bad self-
confidence and how does it affect people’s behaviour, especially in a self-defence situation.
I will try to define some key ingredients on how to change the self-confidence on persons and how to
be a god coach/instructor for individuals with need of guidance.
But most I will focus on defining the connection between the martial art Taekwon-Do and self-
confidence. How does the Taekwon-Do practice affect the self-confidence and what is the connection
between self-confidence and the tenets and oath of Taekwon-Do.
How can you as a Taekwon-Do instructor use the different parts of the practice in order to strengthen
the self-confidence of the students?
Some of the facts and theories stated in this thesis is based on online dictionaries and web-sites
that gives theories of the meaning of self-confidence in everyday life, and help with how to build it.
See the reference list at the end of the thesis. The Taekwon-Do facts are based on the book from the
great founder of Taekwon-Do General Choi Hong Hi.
But most of the theories come partly from a course in coaching, that I performed in 2006, together
with my own experiences during teaching Taekwon-Do for about 8 years in classes.
The definition of self-confidence according to Wikipedia online encyclopaedia: see ref. :
“The socio-psychological concept of self-confidence relates to self-assuredness in one's personal
judgement, ability, power, etc., sometimes manifested excessively.”
The definition according to Webster´s online dictionary: see ref 
“Self-confidence is confidence in oneself, i.e. in one's abilities and worth, including the ability to cope
with one's limitations and problems.”
A person with god self-confidence often has:
a pleasant demeanour
a cheerful outlook on life
a satisfaction with one’s personal life
Confidence can be a self fulfilling prophesy, which means that those without it may fail in
achieving goals, or not even try because they lack of self-confidence, and those with it may succeed
because they have it, rather than because of their actual ability.
Lack of self-confidence is called timidity. Being afraid of failure is a sign of this, and can often be the
result of experiences from several past failures.
Fear and phobia is often the called the opposite to confidence.
People with arrogance are those who have unmerited confidence, i.e. believing they are capable of
things or being correct when they are not. And those how are overconfident or presumptuousness
believes the same thing but without any regards for failure.
The self-confidence is a vital factor of the outcome in a self-defence situation.
The main part in self-defence is to prevent a situation to happen before it appears. Ones self-
confidence is reflected in ones behaviour and how you act.
An example is how an alone person approaches or passes a minor group of people that is acting
loud and provoking. The body language of the person reflects the self-confidence and affects the
response from the group.
- A person with lack of self-confidence often acts scarred and walks with the body sunken together
and looking nervously around. For the group the person becomes a “easy prey” and there is a risk
for a dangerous situation.
- A person with god self-confidence will walk more up right and convincing, Show clearly where
to go and watch the group without acting provocative. The group will react reserved and the
subject becomes uninteresting. There is a small risk of a situation.
- An overconfident person may walk with attitude and stair the group in the eyes and act superior.
The arrogance will provoke the group and most certain result in a violent situation.
So the knowledge of how to keep the situation under control and how to solve it, will give the self-
confidence to act in the right way.
But also in an aggressive situation, the self-confidence will affect the outcome of it. With god self-
confidence one will get the courage to actually do something for defence. Try to get out of the
situation, try to kick or punch and make a lot of noise to draw attention. Without self-confidence one
might become a victim, paralysed and unable to defend oneself.
Civil courage is something that every man and woman should be able to apply in any way. To help
other people in need by any means. But many people chose not to act because of lack of self-
confidence and a belief that you can’t do anything in risk of getting in trouble or danger. When in fact
everyone can do something. Yes, to be able to act and interfere physically, one needs a lot of self-
confidence, courage and, most of all, knowledge how to solve the situation. Otherwise it will be
dangerous for oneself. But just call on attention, make a phone call and try to help from a distance is
possible for anyone. Just the presence of other people may in many cases ease up a violent situation.
Developing ones self-confidence
As mentioned before there are numerous of methods and theories how to develop and improve ones
self-confidence. All because people are different and react differently on different methods. So there is
no general or best method that fits all, but there are some key factors that are common for most of the
As the definition said, often the cause of a lack of self-confidence is previous bad experiences of
achieving goals, such as not winning a competition or fail to become as successful as expected. But it
can also be a result of a traumatic experience, such as failing to defend oneself or someone else in a
The main part of lack of self-confidence is mentally. Many people just think that they can’t do
something or perform something just because they think that they are not good enough, and there are
no way that you can become as god as everyone else. Lack of experience and knowledge is the cause
People often sets to high expectations on them selves without knowing their present abilities. So
when they discover that they can’t perform what they expected, they get frustrated and quit or they get
scarred and don’t dare to try again. This is the result of having bad knowledge in oneself and no
motivation or patience.
Where to start
- Get the correct mental attitude towards yourself and your abilities are essential in building ones
self-confidence. Often guidance is necessary for persons with bad confidence to understand what
they actually are capable of doing. But also many people need to understand and accept that they
can’t perform right now, but it can be a goal to aim for.
- Focus on the positive abilities. What are your strengths from where you can start build on.
- Identify your weaknesses that you can improve.
- Understand that achieving goals and building self-confidence is not something that can be done in
one day. It is a long process where you must take many small steps towards your goal instead of
trying to take one giant leap. It is much easier to use a ladder to get over a wall instead of trying to
jump over it. But it will take some time.
The next step
- Define what will make your self-confidence better. Is it something you want to achieve or
perform or is it just something in your every day life.
- Define goals. Define both some long term goals and visions, and also short term and smaller
goals for steps forward against the final goal.
- Focus on the smaller steps and set action points as every day activities.
- Follow up the results of the actions towards the goals so you clearly can see the progress.
Along the way
By continuously work with the steps and actions, patience and repetition, the goals will be
achieved, and each time the self-confidence will be improved. Self-confidence will be built on
discoveries that success is possible for anyone with the right practice. In long term this self-confidence
will spread to every day life and actions and will affect everything you do.
It is important to understand that failures will happen, but it is nothing to be afraid of. It is a part of
learning and gives experiences.
The backside of the coin
For a person with lack of self-confidence, building it will make the life better and you become a
better and more harmonic human being. But can you get too much or wrong sort of self-confidence
and what are the consequences?
A self-confidence build with wrong purpose and with wrong methods will lead to arrogance and a
feeling of being better than any on else, no humility and a false self-image. This in turn can lead to a
belief of being able to do things you can’t and knowing things that you don’t. In worst cases one start
trying to do things without any regards of failure or the consequences of the actions. The person starts
to misuse any learned knowledge and try to use unlearned knowledge. Frustration and hate grows
when failure is a fact. But also occasionally the person succeeds with something and the arrogance
grows even stronger.
If the knowledge spoken about is martial arts of course the consequences will be catastrophic. The
person will become dangerous to himself and most of all for others. So a martial art instructor and
coach must take a great caution when teaching this individual. It is crucial for him/her to learn
patience and the consequences of all actions.
An instructor or coach must be very flexible in methods of teaching and guiding a person to god
self-confidence, because all individuals are different and have different needs.
A student described above should learn a god moral culture, such as:
in order to cultivate the character. The instructor can teach the student what is right and wrong by
giving positive feedback when the student is acting with correct manner and achieving goals where
performance and moral culture are connected. But the student should also learn respect, discipline and
alternative behaviours when he/she is going the wrong way. The teacher must be active in setting
limits for the student.
So that type of coaching does not focus on building the individuals self-confidence but more of
teaching how to use the existing self-confidence in good ways to develop ones abilities.
A student with lack of self-confidence often needs encouragement and goals to achieve. Some long
term visions to aim against and some short term goals along the way. By encourage the student
towards each small goal and commend him/her when successfully achieving it, the self-confidence
will rise each time.
An example from Taekwon-Do lessons, where a beginner student starts taking lessons. One can
easily see that the self-confidence is not strong when person always keeps a low profile and steps a
side when attention is turned towards him. When speaking to him, he has the mental attitude that there
is no way that he can get a black belt and be able to do all those techniques. But the interest is there
and that is what the instructor must stay with. After the first months with learning easy fundamental
exercises and techniques the first graduation is ahead. Just the thought of standing in from of other
people and showing techniques makes him very nervous and anxious. That’s when encouragement is
After a successful graduation he grows as a person and the self-confidence gets a lot better. He
starts to understand that each step is not big and that it is possible to achieve them.
But an instructor must never set the goals for the student, let the person identify them himself with
guidance from the teacher. In that way the success will be greater for the student when achieving the
goals knowing that it is self-accomplished. Otherwise there is a risk that the student feel that the goals,
set by someone else, are unreachable or are of the wrong kind and loose the motivation to try
achieving them. It is important that the student feels that the goals are possible to reach and that
anything is possible with practice, patience and an indomitable spirit.
So what properties and abilities do you need as an instructor to be able to help people to change the
self-confidence for others to the better?
Most important to be able to reach the person, the coach must gain trust from the individual.
Otherwise he/she will never accept any advises or listen to the coach.
To gain trust an instructor must:
> Be just. Always treat all students/persons equally and never have preconceptions.
> Be polite and kind.
> Be humble.
> Always answer questions based on knowledge, never guess with the risk of giving false
> Be accurate and clear in teaching methods.
> Always lead/live by example. Never teach something and act differently. That creates confusion
> Be a listener and always try to understand the person in order to give the best guidance. Ask
qualitative questions to get an accurate view of the person.
> Never tire in teaching and helping others.
> Be honest and never break a trust.
> Give creative feedback, both positive and negative. But never criticise a person in public.
“One who gains confidence from his seniors is trusted by his fellow instructors, and is respected by
(Quote in ref.  by Gen. Choi Hon Hi of an ideal instructor.)
Taekwon-Do and self-confidence
So how can the martial art Taekwon-Do, be used as a method in building the right self-confidence
As a student of Taekwon-Do we learn the fundamental aims to achieve with the Taekwon-Do practice:
And in the Taekwon-Do oath we swear including to “Be a fighter for freedom and justice” and “Help
build a more peaceful world”. Taekwon-Do is about being a better person and fight against injustices.
In order to fulfil these requirements one needs a lot of courage and self-confidence. In Taekwon-Do
the tool to build such self-confidence is the martial- or combat training.
In ref.  the founder of Taekwon-Do, Gen. Choi Hong Hi, describes when he and his
demonstration team in 1959, visited Vietnam and Taiwan. It was there where he first formulated the
first basic ideals for the Taekwon-Do practitioners. The fist one was:
“By developing an upright mind and a strong body, we will acquire the self-confidence to stand on the
side of justice at all times.”
Every movement of Taekwon-Do techniques and every exercise in the training lessons are
designed for a certain purpose. Whether it is how a blocking technique works or how a stretching
exercise affects the body, it is important that the students understand that purpose. The combat,
breaking and sparring training develops courage and knowledge to use techniques.
All the parts in Taekwon-Do combat practice are connected, and not until you learned to use a
technique in all parts, you fully understand it. When mastering it, the knowledge that it really works
will give you the confidence to use it in self-defence.
A skilful instructor can in that way make the student believe that with continuos and patient
practice, success is possible for everyone and every obstacle is possible to overcome.
Some students loose the patience after a while and don’t think that they develop or learn anything new.
To overcome this the student must learn not to compare what they have learned since yesterday but
compare what they have learned and developed since they started practice.
When the student then discover what great power he possesses, he get the self-confidence to meet any
opponent or any challenges in life.
But the martial training is only one tool in the complete Taekwon-Do martial art.
A way of life
To get the self-confidence to fulfil all requirements of Taekwon-Do, one must master all parts of
the Taekwon-Do martial art.
The philosophy, mental training and training in discipline and respect, are essential for the
student in order to control the knowledge learned in the combat training. Otherwise the purpose
of the knowledge may be incorrect, with devastating consequences such as building arrogance.
In mental training the student learns concentration, focus and the mental motivation to achieve
the personal goals to advancement.
By helping in public services, the student learns humanity, the appreciation from needing
people and that one can make a big difference with small deeds.
All these things will contribute to become more harmonic and self-confident, and become a better
General Choi Hong Hi (2004) Taekwon-Do the Korean Art of Self Defence the 5th edition
Self-confidence search on Wikipedia encyclopaedia on internet:
Self-confidence search on Webster´s online dictionary on internet:
Self-confidence site on internet: www.self-confidence.com