What specific aspects of martial arts training bring about these changes?
While it may be argued that what we get out of the martial arts is what we bring into the training, it is also possible that martial arts training makes us grow beyond what we bring. Some studies have tried to demonstrate the importance of class content on the changes observed in subjects. One study evaluated students from traditional martial arts schools (emphasis on meditation, respect, light-contact sparring, and patterns) and students from modern martial arts schools (limited meditation, respect not stressed, heavy contact sparring, and little emphasis on patterns). Beginning students in both traditional and modern schools had similar scores but advanced students in the traditional schools showed lower scores for aggression than beginning students while there was no change in the scores for advanced modern students. Another study found that both traditional and modern styles of training led to improvements in general mental health but that traditional students showed significant increases in scores for self-acceptance that were not reported for the modern students. Most research supports the hypothesis that the training environment and style of instruction influence these differences.
These findings suggest that martial arts should be much more than just kicks and punches. The training environment and/or the instructor influence whether or not positive psychosocial changes occur in martial artists, so, whether these changes occur or not is impossible to predict since there are many differences between martial arts classes, instructors, and teaching methods.