ABA and Martial Arts

Source: https://flic.kr/p/ahZbb7

By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

Founding Editor, bSci21.org

UFC fans have much to rejoice in Ronda Rousey’s defeat of Cat Zingano by arm bar in a mere 14 seconds last Saturday.  Many now refer to Rousey as the Mike Tyson of women’s mixed martial arts.  In the spirit of this awe-inspiring era of combat sports, it seems only appropriate to bring attention to Applied Behavior Analysis and martial arts.

One of the few ABA studies in this area comes from Harding, Wacker, Berg, Rick, and Lee (2004) in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis.  Researchers targeted response variability and stimulus generalization as pertaining to punching and kicking techniques across two martial arts students.  

The basic task was this — the students had to demonstrate techniques in response to a punching attack.  In baseline, no feedback was given to the students.  During the treatment condition, the instructor provided feedback for each different technique executed during a session.  In the end, the researchers found that the variability of techniques increased and generalized to live sparring conditions that approximate naturalistic fighting or competition.

If you’re interested in reading more about the study, the hyperlink takes you to a full-text version of the article.  

Do you think ABA would help in your martial arts training?  Let us know in the comments below!

Also, don’t forget to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is President of bSci21 Media, LLC, which owns bSci21.org and BAQuarterly.com.  Todd serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management and as an editorial board member for Behavior and Social Issues.  He has worked as a behavior analyst in day centers, residential providers, homes, and schools, and served as the director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Todd’s areas of expertise include writing, entrepreneurship, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Instructional Design, Organizational Behavior Management, and ABA therapy. Todd can be reached at todd.ward@bsci21.org.

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