An exploratory study about the perception and justification of violence in Mixed Martial Arts and kickboxing athletes

Schumacher-Dimech, Anne Marie; Brechbühl, Alain; Kohlbrenner, Patrick; Seiler, Roland (2012). An exploratory study about the perception and justification of violence in Mixed Martial Arts and kickboxing athletes. Forensic Update(107), pp. 19-24. The British Psychological Society

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THE INFLUENCE of combat sport practice on behaviour, attitude, personality and other factors was, and still remains, a research topic of great interest as well as conflicting points of view. Findings are as yet inconclusive since a direct or causal effect is difficult to establish and other factors external to the individual, such as the instructor’s coaching style, also need to be taken into consideration. Furthermore, the wide range of disciplines pertaining to the category combat sports differ from each other on a number of characteristics, such as the extent of physical contact or competition rules, and in fact, attempts have been made to distinguish between various sub-types (e.g. Trulson, 1986). A common distinction made is that between the traditional martial arts, which place emphasis on the art’s philosophy, its traditions and hierarchy (e.g. traditional karate, aikido) and the modern (or Western) combat sports (e.g. boxing, Mixed Martial Arts). An ongoing debate exists about the potential positive and/or negative influence of combat sport practice in comparison to other sport disciplines that do not include this element of fighting and direct aggression. On the one hand, combat sports have been presented by some researchers and sport practitioners as a means of promoting positive social and individual behavior, such as in Theeboom, De Knop and Wylleman’s (2008) evaluation of a martial arts Programme for socially disadvantaged youths in Belgium. Results revealed a positive effect of this project; however, it also highlighted the crucial role played by the instructors or leaders of such programmes. In another intervention using martial arts, Trulson (1986) reported a positive effect of a six month traditional martial art (Korean Tae Kwon Do) intervention with male juvenile delinquents including a reduction in aggressiveness and anxiety, thus confirming the positive influence of such an activity. Nevertheless, this effect was not observed in the other group participating in a modern Adaptation of this martial art led by the same instructor, where the philosophical aspect of this discipline was not emphasised. Moreover, an opposite effect was ascertained in this case where an increased tendency towards delinquency was reported. These results support the distinction between the various types of combat sports together with the way this sport is presented and taught by the instructor.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW)
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW) > Sport Science II [discontinued]

UniBE Contributor:

Schumacher Dimech, Anne Marie, Brechbühl, Alain, Seiler, Roland


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment


The British Psychological Society




Franziska Krebs

Date Deposited:

04 Jul 2014 16:08

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:25




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