Martial Mind: Examining the Relationship among Martial Arts Participation, Identity, and Wellbeing
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For hundreds of years, supporters of the traditional Martial Arts have spoken of the ability to promote the personal development of the practitioner through serious training practices (Lu, 2008). The connection between personal development and mind-body training practices is illustrated in the Japanese concept of budo, which applies generally to “those Martial Arts that have more than a combat dimension” (Lawler, 1996, p.9). While the physical training is similar to other forms of combat (such as boxing or military training), it is the philosophical focus of the training as a form of personal development that makes budo a unique characteristic of certain forms of Martial Arts practice. The current study attempts to examine the way in which training in the Martial Arts affects the overall lifestyle of the individual. Understanding the main relationship between Martial Arts participation and personal wellbeing, and how this is influenced by the identity of the participant, represents the central focus of the current study. While the main relationship being studied is the one between Martial Arts participation and well-being, there are several l factors at play in influencing this central relationship. Given the unique connection of mind and body in the practice of the Martial Arts, one factor that influences the relationship between Martial Arts participation and well-being is the spirituality of the individual practitioner. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between Martial Arts participation and well-being, and to investigate how this central relationship is influenced by the associated concepts of identity, spirituality, serious leisure, motivation, and involvement. This study found that although Martial Arts participation displayed significant power in predicting wellbeing scores, the psycho-social factors associated with the training experience heavily shaped this relationship. The results of this study also suggest that it is not the style of Martial Arts participation, but the way the individual engages with the act of training and incorporates it into their daily life that separates individuals.