Martial Arts in Education

Based on the idea of educating breadth into one’s education the idea of adding Martial Arts training to one’s education is of merit. It is a good resource for a liberal education program of studies (Levine, 1991). While there is the obvious advantage of Martial Arts training in terms of the physical activity being good for both the body and the mind, the benefit of practicing the Martial Arts may afford other benefits. Through the physical activity component of Martial Arts training the participants, develop ligament stretching, muscular strength, and some basic ideas about self-defense. The idea of self-defense helps to develop self-confidence in participant’s interaction with other people and in a variety of situations.

As an undergraduate student at the University of Lethbridge I took Judo for one semester from sensei (teacher) Yosh Senda. Mr. Senda was highly respected as a teacher and this respect transferred from the respect for the teacher to the respect of other people in the class. Bowing signified this respect. A benefit of class practice was in the learning of perseverance, a useful character trait to know. The exercises were both mentally and physically exhausting and through the development of perseverance, the participants continued even in exhaustion.

Having one’s mind being in the present moment in time, in class, the participants learn to center their minds and not think of other things. Being “here now” may be thought to be therapeutic when people have stress in their lives. While more research needs done to validate the psychological and affective benefits of Martial Arts training (Fuller, 2011), early evidence looks positive.

For myself, one of the most important lessons was to learn to enjoy the process as opposed to just wanting a result. I would do a particular technique and ask Mr. Senda how I did. He would reply, “that was very good, keep practicing”. I soon learned to concentrate on the process of the activity instead of trying to be done and to say, “I have done it”.

Self-regulatory abilities fall into three areas; cognitive, affective, and physical. Martial Arts training has been shown to foster the development of these domains in upper elementary school children and males showed the greatest amount of improvement at a time when they are starting to lag behind females in terms of maturational development (Lakes K. D. & William T Hoyt W. T., 2004). Adding Martial Arts to the Physical Education curriculum would help students do better in many extraneous ways.

Levine, D. N. (1991). Martial Arts as a Resource for Liberal Education: The Case for Aikido. The Body: Social Process and Cultural theory. 209 – 224

Fuller, J. R. (2011). Martial Arts and Psychological Health. Psychology and Psychotherapy, 61, 4, 317-328.

Lakes K. D. & William T Hoyt W. T. (2004). Promoting self-regulation through school-based martial arts training. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. Volume 25, Issue 3, May–June 2004, Pages 283-302

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