2017, Volume 13, Issue 1

Physiological and psychological benefits of aikido training: a systematic review

Zsuzsanna Szabolcs1, Ferenc Köteles2, Attila Szabo2

1Doctoral School of Psychology, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary
2Institute of Health Promotion and Sport Sciences, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary

Author for correspondence: Attila Szabo; Institute of Health Promotion and Sport Sciences, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary; email: szabo.attila@ppk.elte.hu

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Background and Study Aim: The aikido is a philosophy and a Japanese art of self-defence, which is proposed to have several beneficial effects on mind and body. It is limited, but growing research on this topic. A summary of the empirical works could shed light on the anecdotally postulated benefits of aikido. The aim of this systematic literature review is to summarise the current knowledge about the physiological and psychological benefits of aikido training.

Material and Methods: Databases including SPORTDiscuss, PsycINFO, PubMed, MEDLINE, and ScienceDirect were searched by following the PRISMA guidelines for systematic reviews. A total of 20 articles met the final inclusion criteria.

Results: The authors of the half of selected articles examined the physiological benefits (flexibility, wrist strength, functional efficiency, balance stability, scoliosis, and injuries) while the other half looked at psychological benefits of aikido training (mindfulness, self-control, self-esteem, health-related behavior, mood profile, and goal orientation) but also on Type A behaviour, as aggressiveness and anger. In line with the analysed reports, the gist of these studies suggests that aikido training has positive benefits on both physiological and psychological measures, including flexibility, scoliosis, balance stability, mindfulness, anger control, and/or ego-orientation indeed. However, certain methodological concerns weaken the strength of the evidence.

Conclusions: The key message of this review is that the theoretically postulated benefits of aikido have started to emerge from both physiologically and psychologically oriented empirical research, which provide infrastructure, as well as the incentive, for future work in this currently underexplored field of study.

Key words: posture, pliability, health, exercise, ego, budo, anger, affect, scoliosis