Finding belonging through traditional karate for children from low-income settings


Introduction: Sport has been shown to improve the social and emotional health of participants; however, existing literature demonstrates lower rates of participation for children from low-income settings. For children, participation in sport is more than a hobby but is a human right. The purpose of this research was to examine the benefits and barriers of karate participation for children from low-income settings and their parents. Traditional karate is a martial art focusing on character development and is suitable for any age, gender, or physical ability. Methods: Participants in this constructivist grounded theory study with a patient-oriented approach were children from low-income settings in a small western Canadian city who participated in traditional karate with the assistance of charitable support programs, and their parents. Children (n=8) and parents (n=7) completed a demographic survey and participated in 34 semi-structured interviews. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using grounded theory procedures. Findings: In this grounded theory, titled Finding Belonging, children had to overcome various challenges in their quest to Finding Belonging through the sub-processes of Physical Belonging, Social Belonging, and Building Competence. The sub-processes supported Finding Belonging and allowed children to improve confidence, competence, increase friendships, and improve sense of belonging. Alternatively, failure to achieve obstacles reduced participants' affinity to the group. Conclusions: Specific barriers existed for children from low-income settings to participate in sport which inhibited Finding Belonging. There is a need for future research to examine persistent barriers and novel methods to allow more children to experience positive sporting experiences.