Adolescence is the period of lifetime development in which many youth begin to make health and lifestyle choices that have a significant impact on overall wellbeing as they transition from childhood into young adulthood. Physical activity appears to be linked to making other healthy lifestyle choices including non-engagement in risk behaviors and improvement in mood and self-concept. The current study sought to examine the effect participation in traditional martial arts training has on overall psychological wellbeing in adolescents. This study administered two widely used and validated scales, the CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) and the Piers Harris-2 (PH-2) self-concept scale, to 55 students training in traditional styles of martial arts. It was hypothesized that students who had trained longer would engage in less risk behaviors and have higher overall wellbeing. It was also hypothesized that males would engage in more risk behaviors than female students. Lastly, it was hypothesized that the different styles of martial arts examined in the study will not have an effect on risk behaviors or wellbeing. Length of training did not significantly predict engagement in risk behavior nor did it predict perception of wellbeing. Age did account for some of the variance with younger students being less likely to engage in some risk behaviors and reporting an increased sense of wellbeing on some of the PH-2 scales than older students. As predicted, male students proved to be significantly more likely to engage in some domains of risk that their female counterparts. The style of martial arts discipline did not have an effect on risk behavior but students who trained in one style did report better wellbeing on two domains of self-concept than the other style. A surprise finding of this study occurred when comparing the study's YRBSS results to the national data provided by the CDC. This study's sample engaged in significantly less risk behaviors overall than did a general sample of adolescents the same age. This indicates that adolescents who participate in traditional martial arts may be less likely to engage in risk behaviors than adolescents in the general population.

LLU Discipline

Clinical Psychology


Clinical Psychology


School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Arechiga, Adam

Second Advisor

Boyd, Kendal

Third Advisor

Medina, Ernie

Fourth Advisor

Vermeersch, David

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded

January 2013

Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Health Behavior - In Adolescence; Risk Factors;

Subject - Local

Adolescence; Martial Arts Training; Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System; Piers Harris-2 Self-Concept Scale; Risk Behaviors; Well-being; Adolescents - Conduct of Life



Page Count

75 p.

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses & Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives