Mindfulness and psychological health in practitioners of Japanese martial arts: a cross-sectional study

Hiromitsu Miyata, Daisuke Kobayashi, Akifumi Sonoda, Hibiki Motoike, Saki Akatsuka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Empirical data have suggested that mind-body practices that originated in Eastern traditions can cause desirable changes to psychological traits, the brain, somatic physiological functions, etc. Martial arts in Japan refer to the physical/mental practices that were developed based on historical combat techniques. Today, martial arts are considered activities that seek embodiment and/or mind-body unity, as well as sports. Empirical studies involving practitioners of Japanese martial arts to date remain scarce. Methods: We conducted a questionnaire survey using a cross-sectional design to examine whether the practice of martial arts based on Japanese traditions are associated with mindfulness and psychological health. Participants included a population of practitioners of martial arts with a practice period of 0.6–35.0 years, and non-practitioners matched for demographic variables. Results: Compared with the non-practitioners, the practitioners of martial arts had significantly higher scores for mindfulness and subjective well-being and lower scores for depression. Among the practitioners of martial arts, a longer period of practice or a higher frequency of daily practice significantly predicted higher mindfulness and psychological health. Conclusions: The results obtained are consistent with those previously obtained for other populations of Japanese contemplatives, and support the view that practice of multiple Eastern mind-body practices might be associated with similar desirable psychological outcomes. A cross-sectional design has limitations in that it is difficult to determine the effect of continued practice, so that a longitudinal study that follows the same practitioners over time is desired in the future enquiry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number75
JournalBMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec

Keywords

  • Depression
  • Dispositional mindfulness
  • Japanese
  • Long-term practice
  • Martial arts
  • Subjective well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation

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