Posted by: Dr Martha Eddy | February 12, 2008

Preventing violence in schools by teaching martial arts?

“Katas,” the flowing movement sequences that combine punches, blocks, and kicks into a coordinated sequence much like a dance, involve strong and direct movement. Despite the forcefulness of this movement, (the literature cited) katas and meditation as the key distinguishing features of a traditional karate training that effectively decreases traits of juvenile delinquency (Trulson, 1986). Rosenberg (1995) cited “katas” as an explicit way to teach the critical, philosophical aspects of martial arts.

The practice of the martial arts is multi-layered. Whereas the katas may promote self-discipline and the warm-ups may be devised for awareness of violence, sparring permits the practice of self-defense and even of attacks. Indeed, the inclusion of martial arts in violence prevention programs appears contradictory. The media often portray martial artists as rampant killers or avengers. In this study, however, educators reported that students rarely use their martial arts techniques outside the formal setting except for occasional horsing around. Students knew that it is necessary to be an expert to successfully engage in martial arts fighting for “real.” On the other hand, they are reported to be more alert and self-confident in avoiding and protecting themselves in dangerous situations.

When considering sparring in relationship to the essential “tactics” for violence prevention, it was revealed that sparring teaches useful skills because of the high level of engagement, teamwork, and opportunity for making choices inherent in the activity.

Excerpts from: Eddy, M. (1998). The role of physical activity in educational violence prevention programs for youth. Dissertation. Teachers College, Columbia University.

Chapter V, page 333

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