Naturalistic Field Research Field NOTES

Naturalistic Field Research Field NOTES



Motivation and Behaviors of Martial Arts Masters

Many people are fascinated by the skills that artists in martial arts display. Martial arts comprise codified schemes and customs of combat exercises practiced for a range of reasons. Apart from the benefit of self-defense, martial art also offers an effective of physical fitness. The correct meaning of martial arts is not only about fighting, but mainly to better ones self. Martial arts can help an individual to combine the mind and body to overcome confidently their fears. Based on this, individuals are encouraged to join martial arts classes. Usually, participants join specific classes, which comprise tae kwon-do and karate classes. The exercise is complex since it necessitates the learners to exhibit dedication, loyalty and hard work. This explains why motivation is ideal in enabling the students to proceed with the classes. My research question is based on the motivation behaviors and techniques used by martial arts professionals.

 Indeed, martial arts are a practice that requires a person to exude an exceptional degree of respect and discipline (Durlabhji, 2004). Discipline in martial arts involves recognizing what is appropriate and inappropriate and learning when it is necessary to take action. It requires enhanced concentration especially in the event of the practice sessions. Therefore, masters should have certain characteristics in order to hearten the learners to become consistent in their pursuit. In addition, masters also have certain expectations, which they believe that their students will attain. Specifically, masters expect the learners to exude a significant degree of control and obedience in class as well as within the external surroundings. This may discourage some students, especially if they are not used to following rules and recognizing authority. As much as it seems simple, this task is rather complicated for students because a considerable number end up quitting the classes, thus making it one major cause of martial arts dropouts. Moreover, this becomes difficult since the learners are required to abide by the regulations and revere the authority.

Often, instructors encounter students who possess diverse personalities. In addition, such diverse cohorts of students naturally have different points of coordination and aptitudes. Considerably, these differences among them act as a means of determining the effectiveness of the lessons and the effort put in towards learning. Additionally, the difference in the students’ ages also determines the differences experienced in the learning exercise. Because of these realizations, martial arts masters need to discover different approaches of motivating their students. On a different note, martial arts instructors do not exude the traits illustrated in films (Ko, Kim & Valacich, 2010). Interestingly, these masters are human regardless of their enhanced toughness. This explains why the selection of such instructors requires other professional aspects. For instance, martial arts teachers usually undergo selection since they are much disciplined in assisting students to learn the practice. They are also motivational and undergo a thorough assessment as well as education in order to foster their students and nurture the potentiality of the students.

Martial arts teachers use several approaches for motivating their students. Encouragement is one of these techniques. Martial arts instructors encourage their students to take challenges positively since they contribute to physical fitness. In addition, martial arts instructors also pay attention to the psychological differences that may emanate from disparities such as gender differences (Kavoura, Ryba & Kokkonen, 2012). This enables them to factor in interventions such as cultural engagement in order to neutralize such physical differences and thus, motivate both students. Moreover, they also value the importance of their exercises. Martial arts instructors also expose their students to several encouraging messages on a weekly basis. This usually takes place at the start of every session. Typically, the messages undergo selection from a range of topics, which comprise the value of courage, augmenting persistence, concentration, advantages of respect as well as the enhancement of discipline and confidence in practice. Such messages motivate them to pursue complex tasks (Durlabhji, 2004). 

The environment is also a significant factor to consider when availing motivation to martial arts students. According to Ko, Kim and Valacich (2010), providing a friendly surrounding for the learners participating in the exercise is important. Naturally, people usually assume that the martial arts school is an unsympathetic environment (Ko, Kim and Valacich (2010). In contrast to this predisposition, most martial arts institutions endorse a friendly environment in order to encourage the student (Durlabhji, 2004). Indeed, providing an environment that is affable and pleasant motivates the students to express comfort in their surrounding and work hard in order to fulfill their interests. Teachers go through comprehensive training and attain sufficient experience in order to manage different learners regardless of their disparate ages.

Accordingly, martial arts masters institute an atmosphere that endorses and supports significant values such as friendship and respect. Moreover, membership is also an important aspect in martial art development. According to Ko, Kim and Valacich (2010), martial arts schools encourage an effectual learner-instructor relationship. This is in accordance to the positive and motivational effect such an action poses on students taking part in this exercise. Irrefutably, an environment that constitutes values such as discipline, friendship, respect and support inspires students participating in classes upon implementation. Notably, other factors are significant in martial arts institutions apart from the ones previously stated. For example, instructors usually offer numerous challenges, which possess a positive structure. Such challenges are a form of platform for providing confidence to the learners. Undeniably, it is rather intriguing to observe children gaining confidence and assuming challenges. In order to perform the study, it is important to utilize certain approaches, which comprise the methodology. These constitute the setting, access, participants, apparatus and procedures.


First School

The first setting of my project will comprise a martial arts school based in Westminster, California. The school is located amid a pair of tall buildings. This school has three classes each day and each class runs for an hour and a half. The person that I will interview is Mr. D, who will show me around the school. Accordingly, it will also be important to determine the number of instructors in the school in order to conduct effective observations and interviews. The research in the school will also focus on determining the implications of the environment within the class in securing the safety of the students. Usually, the school limits any person from entering with their shoes so it will be important for me to leave them out. Similarly, the school also restricts foods and drinks. Furthermore, there are pictures of martial artists and marital arts regulations hanging on the classroom walls. The floor is covered with thick blue carpeting. There are handrails on one side of the wall, and mirrors on the other. There is also a big clock on the back wall. In the corner (near the entrance), there is a shelf that had kicking targets and kicking bags. Towards the rear of the school, there was a vending machine consists of sport drinks, two changing rooms, and one restroom. The participants in this institution will constitute the martial arts students and the instructor. The learners and their master will undergo observation and interview in order to verify the ways in which martial arts teachers encourage their students.

Second School

 The second school is also located in Westminster, California. It comprises fewer classes than the first one. At this institution, three of the school’s instructors, Ms. N, Mr. H and Mr. L, are required undergo research via observation and interview. Corresponding to the initial school, the changing rooms are also located in the back of the classroom. In addition, the classes do not possess any furniture since they include empty halls. In contrast to the first institution, this school possesses wooden floors, which are devoid of carpets. One side of the wall of this school had paintings of different tae kwon-do techniques and a framed picture of the founder of their martial arts organization. On the other side of the wall was four large pieces of mirror. There was also an American flag and Korean flag hanging on the front wall. The arrangement of the students is in rows based on their capacities. An equal distance is also visible between the students and their master. Interestingly, the male and female students have different classes. My role as the researcher in the school will also require me to engage in active participation in order to conduct the observations.

It is also imperative for me to learn the customs or the daily activities that the students and their instructors engage in for purposes of carrying out an effective observation. For instance, one of these activities involves the provision of lectures by the masters to their students at the start of the classes. In addition, the master usually assesses the lines created by the students in order to ensure that every student participates in the exercise. This evaluation will ensure that every person possesses an opportunity to gain from the master. There will be some exercise, which will require the learner to engage as pairs for effectual study. Based on this, the teacher will pair the students and take time to instruct each of the group in order to ensure that every exercise will undergo an adequate and correct performance. The following session will take place after observing the 1st school. 

Third School

 In this setting, the learners and their teachers, Mr. C and Mr. T will also undergo observation and interview. The location of the school is on a hill located in Orange, California, and the environment facilitates martial arts learning. The interior of the school had thick puzzled mats and there was nothing on the puzzle mats. Towards the front left corner of the school, was the masters’ (also known as the owner) office. In the back of the school, there were also two changing rooms and one restroom. In order to perform the research, the instructor is required to allot the students in age cohorts, which will distinguish the students based on their classes. Simply, there will be study groups for students aged between 7 and 14 and groups for students aged between 15 and 19. There will also be a group meant specifically for students above the age of 30. At the school, both male and female students will engage in practice together.


It is imperative for me to be active in participation for completing this research. Accordingly, it is also important for me to carry out the observation as if I am enrolling in the class. Based on this, it is required of me by the instructors to conduct the observations as a student. The approach that I will use will involve my role as the observer as a participant. Foremost, in order to integrate me into the schedule, the instructor will provide me with the class attire which every student wears after passing through their changing spaces.

Most of the martial arts institutions are usually exceedingly busy since they offer classes during evening hours. Hence, entering them was difficult since most of them concentrated on maximizing the available time in order to ensure effective coverage of their lessons. Nonetheless, it was possible gaining permission in order to conduct the research in the two institutions based in Westminster, California and one institution located in Orange, California. In order to gain access to the schools, it was imperative for me to conduct a face-to-face meeting with the administrators. For the first institution, it did not present any restrictions. Approval to conduct the study in the institution was granted after the presentation of a face-to-face meeting and short letter through email regarding mutual agreement on the date of the research. Regarding the second school, approval was possible based on the face-to-face conversation and my identification. As for the last school, after speaking to the master (also known as the owner of the school), the school granted permission for me to complete my full research. Because of the temperament of the training, the three institutions limited me from performing the study as long as I engage as an active participant. Based on this, I assumed my observing role as an active participant (insider) by attending the classes and adorning on the class uniform.


The study will constitute observation with respect to the objective of the research, which will comprise the motivation provided by martial arts instructors to their learners. For efficiency, I will focus on observing and interviewing the learners as well as their instructors. In addition, I will also perform an interview to three masters (instructors), one in every school. I will also perform an interview to two students, after the culmination of their practice sessions at each school.

In the martial arts class, the age for the students participating in the exercise will be between 8 and 50 years. The observation will focus on assessing 26 female learners and 32 male students. After the teacher concludes his regular motivational talk, the cohort will divide into different categories. The students within the 8-16 age groups will have a separate instructor and class. Similarly, the other category will comprise students aged 17 to 35 years. In addition, the last cohort will constitute students aged above 35 years. In my context, I will be part of the 17-35 years age group. This will be efficient based on the role I will assume as an active participant in order to determine the techniques used by the master in motivating students of different ages.


There will be a hand-written summary of my observations for each of the classes. Because I am participating with the class (insider), it will be difficult for me to write and actively participate      at the same time. However, I intend to make short jottings on the major proceedings. With this in mind, I will write the summary of my observations as soon I complete each class. I will also use audio recording using the “Voice Memo” application on the iphone4 since it is permissible as I proceed with the interviews. In addition, the interviews need to undergo transcription  in order to apply them in form of a Word document.


First School Observations

During the performance of the study in the first school, I will carry out observations for Mr. D as well as the students in his class for the two sessions that the institution will provide for me in my role as an active participant. Specifically, my observation will take place in the session scheduled between 4:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Monday, October 28, 2013at the institution. The proceeding observation will occur on Tuesday, October 29, 2013. However, since the students may exude nervousness due to my presence, it will be advantageous for the teacher to introduce me as a participant expressing interest in gaining more knowledge regarding martial arts. More particularly, I will exhibit considerable interest in observing the motivation approaches and the manner of interaction between the learners and their masters during their classes. In addition, I will also express interest in perceiving the strictness of the masters as well as the way in which the instructors will assist the students in rectification of their mistakes.

Second School

In the second school, I will also engage in observation for Ms. N, Mr. H, and Mr. L., From 7:00p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, October 28, 2013, I will conduct observations for Ms. N and Mr. H during their lessons. In addition, I will also monitor Mr. L in my second sitting, which will take place on Tuesday the 29th. In the third school, I will also perform evaluations for Mr. C and Mr. T on October 30, 2013 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Moreover, I will also observe the learners in classes and note down certain aspects important for the research. Notably, apart from the approaches I will use, I will also focus on determining the disparate methods used by the masters in approaching their classes. The observation will aim at identifying a range of correction techniques that the instructors apply in their classes. I intend to do it with the third school.


 Three masters, one from each school that was under observation participated in an interview in order to enhance the study. I will also interview two students participating in their classes. In addition, the interviews will take place during the teacher’s leisure time after the sessions. Mr. D’s interview will take place on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 from 9:00p.m. to 9:30 p.m. On the other hand, the interviews for the student will occur from 4:00 p.m. to 4:30p.m. on Wednesday October 30, 2013. In the second institution, the interviews for Ms. N will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 30, 2013. In additions, one student will undergo interviews from 5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on that same day. Interviews for Mr. C will occur on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 from 7:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The observations will take place before conducting the interviews based on my familiarity with the activities in the institutions. First, what are the behaviors and techniques of motivation used by martial arts masters? Secondly, how does the level of interaction between the martial arts masters and their students contribute towards encouraging the students to exude hard work? The appendix includes a full list of questions used in the study.


Durlabhji, S. (2004).The Tao of organization behavior. Journal of Business Ethics, 52(4), 401-409.

Kavoura, A., Ryba, T. V., & Kokkonen, M. (2012). Psychological research on martial artists: A critical view from a cultural praxis framework. Scandinavian Sport Studies Forum, 3, 1-23.

Ko, Y. J., Kim, Y. K., &Valacich, J. (2010). Martial arts participation: Consumer motivation. International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, 11(2), 105-123.

Appendix A

Possible interview questions:

  1. What is your full name? What is your belt rank?
  2. How long have you been practicing martial arts?
  3. How many hours a week do you practice or teach martial arts?
  4. What made you become a martial arts teacher/or a student?
  5. What are the techniques of motivation that you use to teach your students?
  1. How does the level of interaction between you and your students contribute towards motivating your students towards working hard?
  2. How do you connect with your martial arts students?
  3. What motivates you to continue training/teaching?
  4. How do you handle when a student is lazy or completely not paying attention to what you are teaching?
  5. How are you able to handle different types of students (ranging from age, to sex, to different levels of coordination)?
  6. How often do you speak to a student individually about their performance?
  7. What do you think motivates your students to learn and apply it into the classroom and outside of the classroom?
  8. Do you feel that students who engage in martial arts have a better opportunity to succeed towards their future? Why or why not?

<Included 3 PDF articles>

Student’s Name: Kim-Anh Nguyen Dang
INTRO & METHODS Grading Criteria
Points Earned Points Possible Item
1 1 point Introduction – Opening (e.g., Was the general topic briefly and clearly understood?)
3 3 points Introduction – Background/Literature Search (e.g., What has been done so far? At least 3 primary sources described?)
1.5 2 points Introduction – Research Question (e.g., Was the research question framed appropriately?)
2 2 points Introduction – Linkage to past research (e.g., Did the study link his/her research question to published research?)
1.5 2 points Method – Setting (e.g., Is the description vivid and well written? Can you picture the setting?)
2 3 points Method – Researcher Role/Access (e.g., Will the researcher be an insider or outsider? Applicable access issues discussed?)
2 3 points Method – Participant Description (e.g., Who will be observed? Who will be interviewed?)
3 3 points Method – Procedure Description (e.g., How long will the observations/interviews last? When and for how long will observations take place? What types of behaviors will be focused on for observations? Questions to be asked in the interviews?)
1 1 point Method – List of potential interview questions (in appendix)  
1 1 point Writing Mechanics – APA style (Follow APA style throughout, including the citations in the introduction and the references in the reference page?)
2.5 3 points Writing Mechanics – Proofreading (Any errors in spelling or grammar? Assignment carefully edited?)
1.5 3 points Writing Mechanics – Organization, Clarity, and Style (Is the assignment well organized? Is the writing clear and easy to understand? Does the writing flow well? Is it a pleasure to read?)
1 1 point References (Reference page)  
1 1 point Turned in first page of each reference
    Any deductions for turning in assignment late or failure to meet page requirements?
24 29 points TOTAL SCORE
Note: 3 points will be deducted for each day this assignment is late Note:  3 points will be deducted if the intro is fewer than 3 full pages and/or if the method section is fewer than 3 full pages

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