A study of aggression in a karate school

This thesis represents research in two areas. First, the historical background of the martial art of Karate is explored from an anthropological perspective. A model is presented to illustrate Karate's diffusion (migration and borrowing) through Asian and Western cultures. The Boxer Rebellion is discussed as an example of a revitalization movement utilizing an early form of Karate, chuan-fa. The research in this area necessitated distinguishing between archeological evidence, historical documentation, and the oral tradition upon which much of the martial arts literature is based. Second, the main focus of the thesis is a study of aggression and related behavior (self-control, guilt) in a Los Angeles Karate school. A review is made of the literature on aggression theory and research in both anthropology and psychology. Hypotheses are tested concerning overt and self-reported aggression; values and social ranking; guilt lover aggression and condemnation of anger in others. Participant-observation, questionnaires and an Anger Self- Report (Zelin et al, 1972) are the main research techniques used in the fieldwork. An ethnographic description of the school is also presented. It is suggested that social learning theory is most applicable to aggression studies within the Karate school. Beginning students learn Karate fighting skills and values through observation of instructors and advanced students who function as models. Conclusions drawn from data analysis gained through the fieldwork should be considered specific to the research setting and not representative of all Karate schools.