Martial arts practice in community-based rehabilitation: A review

Pavithra Rajan

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


� 2015 MA Healthcare Ltd. Aim: Martial arts are forms of self-defence or attack that have been modified for modern sport and exercise, and are reported to provide health benefits for people who practise them. This article discusses the evidence base for the use of martial arts, such as tai chi, karate and taekwondo, in the rehabilitation process and how they may play a role in community-based rehabilitation.Findings: Tai chi is a low-impact form of exercise that can help to: reduce the risk of falls among community-dwelling stroke survivors; lower blood pressure in patients with heart failure; and improve the wellbeing of breast cancer survivors. Karate is a more rigorous form of martial arts than tai chi and research has highlighted its benefits for children, including: improved memory and self-esteem for those with epilepsy; reduced stereotypy among children with autism; and improved developmental skills among schoolchildren with and without special needs. Taekwondo is another rigorous martial art form that has potential health benefits; limited research has been conducted into this, with a study reporting improvements in class behaviour and academic performance among children who practise it.Conclusions: While each martial art form has its own positive health benefits, future research must be undertaken to compare the effectiveness of different martial art forms in different communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-34
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Community-based rehabilitation
  • Karate
  • Martial arts
  • Taekwondo
  • Tai chi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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