Analysis of experiences of young martial artists

Jikkemien Vertonghen, Marc Theeboom

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)Research


To date, little is known about the way children experience the involvement in martial arts. It is interesting to note that conclusive evidence regarding the effect of martial arts on young participants remains scarce as not all research findings point in the same direction. While some studies reported an increase of antisocial behaviour among young martial artists, others described positive social-psychological effects (e.g., increased self-confidence and social skills, less aggressiveness, ...). It has been indicated that it is often too difficult to make general statements with regard to the socio-psychological effects of sports participation without taking into consideration the structural qualities of the sport itself, the participants' characteristics, the social context and also the type of guidance. Therefore, a study was set up to analyse the experiences of young martial artists (aikido, judo and kick/thaiboxing). This study, which is part of a larger research on children's martial arts involvement, made use of a qualitative methodology. Ninety children between the age of 8 and 13 years, as well as their parents and trainers, were interviewed in-depth regarding their experiences and (perceived) effects in martial arts. Children's social background and orientation to their body, as well as the characteristics of the specific martial art, the aim and the approach used by the trainer were taken into account. In general, findings seem to support the relationship between martial arts practice and positive socio-psychological responses. However, it is concluded that analysing the experiences of children in martial arts should not only make a distinction between the wide variety of martial arts styles, but should also take the different 'approaches' of martial arts practice into account (e.g., sporting, traditional, efficiency).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSport & Culture & Society
EditorsM.d. Topic, S. Licen
PublisherEuropean Association for Sociology of Sport
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2008
EventFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 21 Sep 200925 Sep 2009

Publication series

NameSport & Culture & Society


ConferenceFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet

Bibliographical note

M.D. Topic, S. Licen


  • martial arts


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