School-Based Karate-Do: Supporting The Well-Being of Gay Male Youth

Jacky WL Chan


This paper explores how the traditional practice of karate-do can support the overall well-being of gay male youth (GMY). Many GMY are at a heightened risk of mental health issues that are linked to heteronormative attitudes, homophobic discrimination, and hegemonic masculinity found within sport culture. The traditional martial art of karate-do has the potential to be an effective mental health strategy for GMY. However, the commercialization of martial arts has meant the loss of its philosophical values as a traditional practice towards an overall sense of well-being and has become associated and confused with a violent and combative nature. These benefits have been misunderstood by the general public through organizations like the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) franchise and the practice of mixed martial arts (MMA) for competition and sport. This paper explores the benefits of a school-based karate-do program as an embodied well-being program for GMY. This paper concludes with a list of recommendations that will help support educators, physical education teachers, and school administrators in the implementation of a school-based karate-do program as an embodied well-being practice for GMY within Canadian schools.

The video abstract for this paper is available on YouTube.


mental illness; mental health promotion; gay male youth; well-being strategies; karate-do; martial arts; hegemonic masculinity in sport; embodied well-being; school-based martial arts program

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Last updated November 2 2018