Executive Function Strategies Blog

How Martial Arts Training Helps Develop Executive Function Skills

Editor’s note: This week, we feature guest bloggers Michael Keesler and Jason Navon of Fox and Ferns Mental Health in Philadelphia, PA. Please read more about Michael and Jason below.

In fall of 2000, a 16-year-old Michael Keesler took his first class at the Asheville Taekwondo Academy. It would be the first of many classes to follow, each beginning with bowing in and reciting the tenets of the school: Honor, Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control, Courage, and Community. Fast-forward nearly 20 years and Michael – now Dr. Keesler – trains less, but has a new and altogether different appreciation for martial arts training.



The Anxious College Student: An Executive Function Connection

College students have plenty of fuel for anxiety. They’re in a social and academic environment that’s significantly different than any that they’re used to. They’re often trying to balance course work with a job - in addition to social and family obligations. And they’re doing all this while also trying to chart out a plan for their entire future (and trying not to think too hard about all the student loans they’ll need to repay upon graduation). While that is a lot to handle, some of that anxiety can be mitigated with upgrades to the way that they manage their demands, or their Executive Functioning. The two students you’ll be reading about show the connection between anxiety and Executive Function - and how learning more effective self-management techniques can help to lighten the emotional load.



Why Smart Kids Can Struggle in School

The first part of the school year is almost in the record books, and already you see the writing on the wall. Your bright, funny, curious child brought home a backpack crammed with crumpled worksheets, last week’s hummus snack, and teacher comments that were less than stellar. You know she can do better. Her teachers know she can do better. Your child wants to do well - but is at a loss as to how. She thinks, “I guess I’m not so smart, after all.” But succeeding at school is not all about pure intellect, or IQ. Rather, skills of self-management, or Executive Function skills, are the key to consistent academic achievement. Smart kids can struggle in school when they don’t have tools and strategies to manage their academic demands. 



Pets, Chores, & Other Nuisances: Negotiating Responsibilities at Home

Even though much of our work as Executive Function coaches focuses on helping students and adults work more effectively, you may be surprised to learn that we get a fair amount of questions during our presentations and talks that relate to managing a household, as well. And why not? After all, we use skills such as time management, emotion regulation, planning, and persistence in our everyday lives, too - not just when a report is due to the boss or a teacher. We took a few minutes to chat with author and CEO Michael Delman to find out how an Executive Function expert applies his knowledge to his own family life.