Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



After-School Martial Arts utilizes mixed methods to further our understanding of (a) how martial arts became an established after-school activity for elementary school children, (b) how parents and participants perceive the value of martial arts, and (c) whether sustained participation in martial arts is associated with academic gains. I begin with a historical case study that examines how parents came to see martial arts as one of the viable after-school activities for their elementary school age children. Next, I employed qualitative observations and in-depth interviewing techniques to learn more about what parents and participants perceived as attractive in marital arts programs and any connection to educational success. Finally, I used quantitative methods and a nationally-representative data set to explore the relation between sustained martial arts participation and improved test scores of U.S. elementary school children (from kindergarten through fifth grade). The central findings of my dissertation are three-fold. First, parental interest in martial arts for their children dovetailed with the growing integration of the practice into U.S. culture along with the marketing of multiple benefits of participation to parents. Second, parents and participants today perceive multiple benefits of participation, including (but not limited to) enhanced academic performance. Third, my quantitative findings did not lend strong support for academic benefits of any martial arts participation, but I uncovered some evidence that sustained participation was associated with increased reading scores.



Committee Chair

Schafer, Mark