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Martial Arts as an Academic Qualification

men practiisng martial arts

Art and Culture have preserved martial arts since early times via paintings in caves, murals and potteries, besides sculptures and manuscripts. Academia have promoted art and culture, and, in this respect, academia has played a significant role in preserving and promoting martial arts over the years. But martial arts as an academic qualification like a BA, MA, or PhD course is generally not offered by formal academic institutions granting degrees, diplomas, and certificates.

This may be due to several reasons with one being that the pursuit of martial arts takes a lifetime, while an academic course has a fixed duration. Again, in the employment sector, a BA in Martial Arts would perhaps be less attractive than a BA in Computer Science or Management.

Due to such and many other reasons, martial arts are generally not featured as an academic course. Nonetheless, it is well-known that martial arts provide innumerable benefits and thus, academic institutions explore different ways to introduce martial arts to their students. For example, some institutions implement martial arts student clubs or organize martial arts events or programs, while some other institutions offer academic qualifications in martial arts.

Martial arts offered by academic institutions

Universities are allowing students to form clubs and organize programs, events, seminars and demonstrations with respect to martial arts. Students pursue their regular undergraduate or graduate studies for an academic qualification, and also participate in martial arts student clubs or programs for their physical fitness and overall wellness.

Harvard University organized an event on Kendo for the benefit of its students.

Harvard University video “Wintersession at Harvard: Japanese Sword Fighting”:

Yale University has a Shotokan Karate program [1] and a Taekwondo team.

Yale Taekwondo video “Yale Taekwondo 2022-2023 Season Recap”:

University of California Berkeley offers a UC Berkeley Martial Arts Program for its students [2].

UC Berkeley Recreation and Wellbeing video “UC Martial Arts Club | Berkeley”:

Columbia University features a Tae Kwon Do club for its students [3].

Jeremy Suh video “Columbia University Taekwondo 21-22 Demo Reel”:

Hampshire College, a private liberal arts college in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA, offers a Hampshire Budō Education Program that includes Shotokan Karate, Kickboxing, Kyūdō (Japanese archery), Aikidō, and Iaidō (Japanese sword drawing) for its students [4].

Klara Ingersoll video “Kyūdō Class at Hampshire College”:

Bryan College, a private Christian college in Dayton, Tennessee, USA, offers programs in martial arts [5].

Bryan College Athletics video “Bryan Open Karate Tournament – Bryan College Martial Arts Academy”:

Radford University, a public university in Radford, Virginia, USA, offers an Asian Martial Arts Minor to its students. Students can earn credits, which includes Asian martial arts, self-defense, world martial arts, pre-professional fieldwork, and health and safety foundations [6].

RUCEHD video “Martial Arts Emphasis – RU ESHE Major”:

Indiana University, a public university in Indiana, USA, offers an Undergraduate Certificate in Martial Arts that features many different martial arts like Hapkido, T’ai Chi Ch’uan, Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Japanese Jujitsu, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Aikido, Escrima, Shotokan Karate, Jeet Kune Do, and more [7].

Aza Burns-Williams video “Martial Arts@IU”:

Yong In University, a private university located in Kyonggi Province, Korea, offers martial arts courses [8].

Matt Thomas video “Yong In University Taekwondo Demonstration Team”:

Kyung Hee University, a private research university in Seoul, South Korea, offers Taekwondo through its College of Physical Education [9].

태권인턴 video “[3화] 항저우 아시안게임 국대 선발, 경희대학교 품새부 훈련ㅣKyung Hee University Taekwondo Poomsae Training”:


Generally, the performance of a martial artist shows the level of the skill attained, and thus, no academic qualification is required. However, a martial art academic qualification may help students to secure jobs in sports, security services, police, armed forces, or to become martial arts instructors, or to open up their own martial arts school. Sometimes, students having degrees in other fields like medicine, law, engineering, business, arts, sciences, etc., may additionally earn an academic qualification in martial arts, to make their resume a bit more attractive to employers.

DISCLAIMER: This article does not subscribe, or advertise, or promote, in any way, any academic institution, of any kind, anywhere in the world.


1. Yale University, Shotokan Karate program.
https://karate.sites.yale.edu/ [Accessed on 27 Oct 2023]

2. UC Berkeley Martial Arts Program.
https://recwell.berkeley.edu/competitive-programs/martial-arts/ [Accessed on 27 Oct 2023]

3. Columbia University Tae Kwon Do club.
https://perec.columbia.edu/tae-kwon-do [Accessed on 27 Oct 2023]

4. Hampshire College, Martial Arts, Hampshire Budō Education Program.
https://www.hampshire.edu/student-life/outdoor-programs-recreation-and-athletics/martial-arts [Accessed on 27 Oct 2023]

5. Bryan College, Athletics, Martial Arts Academy.
https://bryanlions.com/sports/martial-arts [Accessed on 27 Oct 2023]

6. Radford University. Asian Martial Arts Minor.
https://catalog.radford.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=45&poid=4970&returnto=1747 [Accessed on 27 Oct 2023]

7. Indiana University, Undergraduate Certificate in Martial Arts.
https://bulletins.iu.edu/iub/phb/2022-2023/undergraduate/certificates/martial-arts.shtml [Accessed on 27 Oct 2023]

8. Yong In University, Department of Taekwondo. https://www.yongin.ac.kr/cmn/en/wvtex/nibr/colDept/COL_DEPT_00000000076/colDeptMain.do [Accessed on 27 Oct 2023]

9. Kyung Hee University, College of Physical Education, Department of Taekwondo.
https://www.khu.ac.kr/eng/sub/content.do?MENU_SEQ=1000702 [Accessed on 27 Oct 2023]


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