Sexual assault can significantly change how a woman lives her life. Many women who have been sexually assaulted look for methods of protection in order to avoid being victimized again. Some purchase guns, tasers or mace. Others acquire dogs for protection. And many women enroll in modern self-defense training (MSDT) classes in order to gain a sense of empowerment, strength and to reduce feelings of helplessness. “The primary goal of MSDT programs is teach participants how to avoid and resist sexual assault,” said Kimberly Ball of Health Professions and Technologies at Oakland Community College. “Traditional martial arts (TMA), boxing, and wrestling skills are typically taught, as well as preventative skills. Contrary to this misconception, karate, one type of TMA, is geared toward both ﬁghting and tactics that can be used for escaping assault.”
Ball and her colleagues conducted a study comparing MSDT and TMA. “Researchers typically evaluate modern self-defense training (MSDT) programs against a control or comparison group,” she said. “Evaluating the effectiveness of TMA versus MSDT programs in reducing fear and enhancing efﬁcacy would provide more information to program developers and potential participants on the relative merits of each type of program.” For her study, Ball evaluated 69 female college students who underwent a MSDT class, TMA class or typical stress management (SM) class.
“The MSDT course was speciﬁcally designed to teach women skills to avoid sexual assault and to ﬁght back if an assault occurred,” said Ball. “The TMA class instructor taught Shotokan Karate which is designed to focus on the total development of the student (i.e., physical, mental, social, and spiritual growth).” Ball found that the women in the MSDT group had significant increases in levels of self-efficacy and also saw tremendous reductions in fear. “In particular, the increase in efﬁcacy to defend one’s life and the decrease in fear for one’s life are, arguably, very empowering cognitive and affective changes.” Ball added, “In summary, our ﬁndings provide some moderate support for the effectiveness of MSDT interventions for reducing life-threating fear and for enhancing self-defense self-efficacy.”
Ball, K., & Martin, J. (2011, November 14). Self-Defense Training and Traditional Martial Arts: Influences on Self-Efficacy and Fear Related to Sexual Victimization. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025745
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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