Good Friends Are Good for Your Health

Every single day, Sr. Master Janelle Gleisner talks to good friends she’s made in ATA.  Now that she is a member of the ATA headquarters staff, she has the luxury of talking to even more.  But it’s not just about doing her job.  She says the personal relationships she’s developed in her over 28 years in martial arts have created a global network of colleagues that has led to true camaraderie and friendship that reaches numbers far too great to count.

“I think that’s one of the strongest benefits of ATA,” says Gleisner who is the Vice President of Licensing and Sales for ATA’s international headquarters.  Whether Gleisner knows it or not, that benefit of ATA is also a benefit to her health!  It turns out that friendships are not only good for emotional well-being, but also for physical health.  Studies show that friendship can help keep your brain healthy, reduce anxiety and stress, and boost your immune system.

Looking for the fountain of youth? A study published by Personal Relationships in 2017, surveyed more than 280,000 people across nearly 100 countries about their nearest and dearest, along with their happiness and health, and found that people who placed more importance on friendship and family tended to say they were happier, more satisfied and healthier than those who didn’t.  And when it comes to the buddy system, it’s better to have a few great friends than a ton of mediocre ones.

Spending time with close friends, especially when sharing a passion such as with ATA, can even have physical effects.  The journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reported an article in 2015 that showed groups of people who had strong social connections had lower blood pressure and lower body mass index. 

What’s more, those close friendships can support you in your Taekwondo training.  “It helps motivate you for the next testing or tournament,” Gleisner says.  “You have a group of people that you only see at ATA events, but it’s great because you come back to the next event and feel like you were just with them yesterday—socializing and having fun.”

For Sr. Master Sean Smith, time with ATA friends goes well beyond competition and the classroom—for him it went all the way to the altar!  Smith’s been a groomsman for ATA friend wedding and even had a Songahm buddy serve as best man in his own wedding.  He even met his wife through Taekwondo, traveling the tournament circuit. 

“Regardless of when you start training, whether you’re a kid or an adult, the people you see at tournaments are going to be people who will follow you through your training all of your life.”  Smith says, “I tell my students to make sure they meet someone their rank, especially at Worlds or Nationals, so that you have a friend in this with you.”  Next time there’s a buddy event in your school, think hard about inviting someone to join you on this journey.  Do your health a favor and kick start your friendships!


So, what are some specific ways science has shown that friendships can help your health?  Here are a few:

  • They help you live longer and enjoy your time more.
  • Keep your mind sharp.
  • Gain confidence and learn valuable social skills.
  • Boost your immune system.
  • Challenge you to improve and try new things.
  • Lower stress levels and lessen depression.
  • Get through tough times.
  • Laugh, which has been linked to blood vessel functioning.
  • Adopt healthy behaviors. (A study by Current Opinion of Psychiatry showed that people who have a good network of family and friends tend to have healthier lifestyles, including eating more fruits and veggies, and even quit smoking.)


So how can you be better friend?  Here are some suggestions!

  • Celebrate! Compliment your friends when they do good things or achieve their goals. People want to be around people who make them feel good.
  • Try New Things. Invite your friend to Taekwondo!  It’s great to have a buddy in class.  Inversely, try something your friend has been asking you to do.  It will create mutual respect and a stronger bond.
  • Stay in Touch. Yes, you can send “HBD” when Facebook reminds you of a friend’s birthday.  But don’t lose sight of the power of a phone call or a card.  Keep connections personal.
  • Don’t Keep Score. You’re bound to compete against your buddies in ATA, but focus on the friendship—not the medal count. 
  • Live Your Oath. The Songahm Spirit encourages us to use courtesy, loyalty and respect in our friendships.  Show these to your pals and expect the same in return.



Author: Anna Belfort



Back to Newsroom

Tiffany Haag and Northwest Austin ATA


2021 Spring Nationals Update – March 4, 2021

Anecke Viljoen and the Traditional Taekwondo Academy

Press Release: February 19, 2021

Faith Clevenger and Summit Martial Arts

Press Release: February 9, 2021

Letter From The Tournament Department - February 2, 2021

2021 Spring Nationals Update - January 22, 2021

2021 Spring Nationals Update - January 19, 2021

Press Release: December 22, 2020

Letter from the Masters’ Council: December 2, 2020

Press Release: December 1, 2020

Press Release: November 25, 2020

Press Release: November 16, 2020

Press Release: November 13, 2020

The 2020 Wolrds Results Are In!

Press Release: October 9, 2020

Press Release: October 6, 2020

Press Release: August 31, 2020

ATA HQ Tournament Update: August 20, 2020

Press Release: August 11, 2020

Press Release: July 23, 2020

Press Release: July 22, 2020

Press Release: July 17, 2020

The 2020 Spring National Results Are In!

Clean the Clutter

Power Me Up with Bananas

Not A Morning Person


Master of Discipline


To The Letter

Student Spotlight

Healthy Heart Tips

The 2019 Fall Nationals Results Are In!

New Thanksgiving Traditions

Choosing To Be Happy

Eternal Grand Master’s Legacy

A Life Renewed Through Martial Arts

What Exactly is Self-Esteem?


Policy Letters

Smart Snacks

The 2019 Worlds Results Are In!

Super Senior: Robert McGee

Heart of a Champion

ATA’s “Super Ken”

Make It Possible

Keep Calm

The 2019 Spring Nationals Results Are In!

Songahm Superfoods

Don’t Stop Believing…In Yourself!

Flexibility Facts

Martial Hearts

Discipline Yourself

Change Yourself First!

Winter Checklist

Arm Yourself for Martial Arts

Happy Thanksgiving

The 2018 Fall Nationals Results Are In!

Buddy Up!

How To Build Endurance

Food for Thought

Honesty It Is Still the Best Policy

Watch Your Tech Etiquette

Get That Black Belt Attitude

Protein Prescription

Happy ATA Founder’s Month!

Find the JOY in YOU

Balance Yourself

9 Fast Facts About Presiding Grand Master Nominee G.K. Lee

Mind Your Manners

Train For Speed

Songahm Superfoods

Better Together

WE18 Results

Join the Journey


Proudly at Peace

A Worldly Experience

9 Hot and Healthy Summertime Habits

ATA Official Facebook Frames

History is Made by Four Songahm Legends

Presiding Grand Master Nomination Announcement

Break Like A Master


Grand Master In Ho Lee Passes the Torch for the Future

Road Ready


Mind Body Spirit

Tournaments 101

Ready for Worlds!

All in the Mind

ATA Leadership and Life Skills Excellence

Packing a Punch

You Better Believe It!

How To: Improve Your Core Strength

Got Calcium?

The 2018 Spring Nationals Results Are In!

Ready for Routine

Carbs: The Good, The Bad, The Complex

How To: Master Your Test

Dynamite Discipline

Don't Forget!

How To: Crank Up Your Cardio

Snow Day

ATA Students Know: There’s Always More to Learn

The Masters' Council Presents: ATA Unity Workout

Spring Nationals Hotel Stay Giveaway!

How To: Create A Team Sparring Success Story

Urgent Tournament Bulletin: The ATA Tournament Standings have been updated!

9 Ways to Develop Self Control

How To: Master The Sword

As Natural as Breathing

Results are in!

Thank you, Veterans!

Rev Up Your Reading

How To: Get Your Kicks

Self-Esteem: The Leadership Life Skill that Starts Within You

Check out Marvel's Inhumans, starring one of ATA's own...

2017 Worlds Mid-Term & Rank Testing Results

The 2017 Spring Nationals Mid-Term & Rank Testing Results Are In!

One of ATA's very own is on the big screen!

"Utah Boy with Autism Wins World Title in Taekwondo: 'I Cannot Wait to See What the Future Holds for Him,' Says Mom" - People

"ATA Taekwondo championships return to Little Rock" - THV11

"ATA International To Locate Headquarters In Little Rock, Arkansas" - Area Development

"H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden" - Atlas Obsurca

News Release: ATA International breaks ground for new World Headquarters

Back To Top