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Br J Med Psychol. 1988 Dec;61 ( Pt 4):317-28.

Martial arts and psychological health.

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Butler Clinic, Langdon Hospital, Dawlish, Devon, UK.


The misleading public image of the martial arts masks a rich though esoteric psychological legacy containing informative parallels for contemporary psychotherapeutic concepts and practices. To date, empirical research on the martial arts has lacked sophistication in the questions it has posed and in the methodology adopted to answer them. Whilst not entirely consistent, findings from studies of martial artists' personalities, outlooks and behaviour have generally indicated positive psychological effects of training. Clinical and psychotherapeutic applications are at an exploratory stage but appear promising. As an exemplar the psychological facets of the art of Aikido are discussed, and prospective uses of martial arts principles as systemic or adjunctive therapies are considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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