In a nutshell
In search of alternative intervention methods, martial arts-based programmes have been proposed to carry the potential for violence prevention in adolescents who are at increased risk of engaging in violent and aggressive behaviour and delinquency. These programmes have further positively affected discipline, respect for oneself and others, emotional coping skills as well as self-esteem of participants in general.
The Bom Combat School Intervention concept is community-orientated and provides a supportive learning platform for adolescents, by teaching honourable conduct and how to channel impulsive emotions into proactive and prosocial behaviour, through the teachings of martial arts in practice and philosophy.
What we do
In urban areas like Cape Town, where community and gang violence are amongst the highest in South Africa, homicide is the leading cause of death of young people between the ages of 15 and 19 years. Instead of providing a context in which the youth are able to strive to become responsible and empathic young adults, this environment is laying the foundation for multiple risk factors for mental and physical harm for individuals, families and whole communities in South Africa.
Institutions and organisations responsible for interventions with violent and aggressive youth, often lack the capacity to detain adolescents and fail to create an environment for at-risk youth to learn and adapt through the adoption of alternative, prosocial behaviour strategies. In order to counter the increased risk of youth engaging in violent and antisocial behaviour and to decrease their risk of becoming involved in criminal activities as adults, there is a real need for the development of alternative, evidence-based intervention programmes which they can engage in.
Martial Arts and combat sports generally offer a unique frame of development by enabling participants to experience their own limits, while building relationships with peers and coaches that require inclusion and discipline of all to develop one’s individual skills. The very nature of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu involves students working through strong emotions evoked during practice and requires them to learn to control these emotions. This is not only a humbling experience, but initially a factor of attraction for young adolescents, who want to participate and learn.
How we do it
Participation in this multi-phased martial arts-based programme, which is facilitated by two martial arts instructors, consists of two 60-minute sessions per week, bi-annual community outreach activities and job shadowing opportunities. The programme is sub-divided into four different phases and strongly builds on cognitive-behaviour techniques and psychoeducation, in addition to the martial arts practice. See the Bom Combat - Four Phase Intervention infographic in the gallery above.
What we have learned
We believe that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Martial Arts, in general, provide an opportunity to learn and practice important values such as, respect for self and others; empathy; dedication; discipline; and a sense of unity. Having its roots in Brazil and Japan, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a Martial Art and more so, a way of life that is based on the experience of the limits and possibilities of one’s own body movement. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu used to be an exclusive skill that was taught to a select few and was a sign of social status. In our Bom Combat School Intervention programme, we provide an opportunity to learn and practice these, often exclusive, skills and teachings to young individuals in our society that often do not have access to these experiences. This allows participants to review their views on the use of aggression and violence as normative behaviours, and hereby offers a new opportunity to:
- Experience a sense of mastery in their physical activity;
- Build peer relationships based on trust and respect, rather than fear; and
- Develop a prosocial identity.
A special thank-you to Martin Gerry Gerhardt, of Bom Combat, for compiling this project profile. For more information on the Bom Combat - School Intervention, please contact:
- Martin Gerry Gerhardt: Gerry_Gerhardt@web.de
- Nathan Maart: firstname.lastname@example.org