Reducing aggression with martial arts: A meta-analysis of child and youth studies

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Abstract

Martial arts are becoming a mainstream sport for energetic youth and their popularity extends globally. Following a comprehensive search of martial arts research, a critical review of the field and the psychological implications was conducted. The resulting meta-analysis examined the effect of martial arts on problematic externalizing behavior (aggression, anger, and violence). The final meta-analysis included twelve studies, with 507 participants (ages 6 to 18), where study type was a moderator. For nine intervention and longitudinal studies, there was a homogenous effect size of 0.65 (95% CI: 0.11, 1.03) indicating a medium effect, where martial arts improved aggression amongst the practicing youth. The other three one-time comparisons studies did not yield a homogenous effect size. Based on these analyses, it appears that martial arts has a potential to reduce externalizing behaviors in youth, although further research is needed to determine the mechanisms of change and specify the most relevant population groups for targeted interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-101
Number of pages6
JournalAggression and Violent Behavior
Volume34
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Aggression
  • Externalizing behavior
  • Martial arts
  • Meta-analysis

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