Curtin University researcher Eva Dobozy has been studying how martial arts could help with children’s development, and has specifically been looking at students taught by Greenwood and Currambine’s WA Institute of Martial Arts (WAIMA),
Dr Dobozy said her project aimed to further understand how the martial arts training delivered at WAIMA helped promote children’s overall wellbeing.
‘Children’s learning of academic and social skills does not stop at the school gate,’ she said.
‘There is increasing awareness by teachers and the general public that out-of-school activities are a major contributor to child development.
‘What attracted me to the study of martial arts training, as performed at WAIMA, is that it is rigorous, pedagogically designed and personalised. The focus of WAIMA’s martial arts training program is not simply on the development of technical skills and physical agility.’
She said about 250 parents and students were invited to participate in the study, as well as WAIMA instructors, and more 45 interviews were conducted, enabling participants to express their views concerning perceived benefits of martial arts training for children and adolescents.
She said it was clear from parent responses that there was a deep-seated belief in the psycho-social benefits of martial arts training as delivered by WAIMA.
All parents interviewed responded with ‘yes, definitely, or absolutely’ when asked if martial arts training was character building.
Parents also said their children learnt about overcoming self-doubt, respecting others, communication and life skills, good morals, how to stand up for themselves, persistence, commitment and self-control.
Dr Dobozy said martial arts training could also assist in the development of academic skills and could be a significant contributor to the development of all-rounded people.
‘Martial arts trainings assists in the building of resilience, develops empathy and contributes to respectful conduct,’ she said.
‘There are multiple forms of martial arts and this research shows there is a need to better understand how martial arts programs can add value to people’s life now and in the future.’
She said a background in martial arts could add to a more productive workforce.
‘Knowledge economies, such as Australia, generate knowledge-intensive work,’ she said.
‘Martial arts training can have a significant impact on the production of Australia’s future workforce.
‘People who are resilient, respectful, empathic and have well-developed social skills are increasingly seen as an important resource to increase Australia’s productivity.’