A 1998 study by Columbus and Rice (1998), Phenomenological meanings of martial arts participation, Journal of Sport Behavior, 21, 16-29, examined why people participate in martial arts and found four main reasons:
- Fear of criminal victimization.
- Seeking growth and discovery, including challenging oneself, either mentally, physically, or spiritually, and facing ones fears.
- Life transition and wanting to get life in control.
- Task performance and reaching martial arts achievement as contributions to achievement in other life situations.
Several of these reasons involve a desire for life enhancement, likely due to viewing the martial arts as a way of life rather than simply a sport. Many of the mental skills used in sports have been found effective in achieving peak performance throughout life. These skills have frequently been used in the martial arts even though they may not have always been systematically taught.