Anthony Joseph Scuderi

A.A., Bucks County Community College, Pennsylvania
B.S., East Stroudsburg University, Pennsylvania
M.Div., Catholic Theological Union, Chicago
Liberty Universiy, Virginia
D.Min., Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Pennsylvania
Barbara Grimes, Ph.D., Advisor
Dissertation Coordinator
Southern California University for Professional Studies
17 E. 17th Street
Santa Ana, CA, 92705-8605

A Project in Psychology Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of
Doctor of Psychology
Southern California University for Professional Studies
January 2003


This study was conducted in an effort to illustrate how the martial art of Judo can be used to effectively treat depression, anxiety and help manage anger. Judo, for the purposes of the psychotherapeutic milieu shall be a concomitant modality in the treatment of the aforementioned psychopathologies in the event that psychopharmacologic intervention is necessitated.

Two groups of Judoka (Judo players) were randomly chosen, each group numbers 100. Group 1 consists of white belts (beginners) that have just started Judo training or have been in training for no more than one month. The second group is advanced judokas who vary in Judo rank and time in grade from one-year forward. The age requirement must be a judoka old enough to understand and write the English language in an effort to answer the enclosed self-assessment questionnaires.

Research was done on how Judo can be used as a social therapy, movement therapy, and psychotherapy. Further research on present day therapeutic modalities for treating depression, anxiety and anger follows. Finally, a discussion on the process of Judo Therapy will commence.

In an effort to assert the efficacy of Judo Therapy as an effective mode of psychotherapy to be used in the treatment of behavioral disorders, both groups were given the Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale (SAS), Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS) and the State-Trait Anger Scale (TAS-SAS). An explanation of each measurement including a full description, norms, scoring, reliability, validity, primary reference and where to obtain the measurements can be found in Appendix A.

Movement Therapy is common for the treatment of people recovering from some form of physical disability due to brain damage, a broken bone, stroke or other debilitating ailment that limits or prohibits physical movement. Exercise is not uncommonly used as adjunctive therapy for people who are suffering from depression, anxiety, or anger management issues. There are known neurotransmitters and chemicals that are released into the system giving a person a sense of relief from depression, anxiety and anger. However, Judo has not been used exclusively as a psychotherapeutic tool to help people overcome their issues. Judo was designed as a martial art to be used as a personal self-defense or a medium for competition. Never has it been considered as an adjunct to psychotherapy, let alone an effective psychotherapeutic theory.

This work will consider Judo as an effective form of psychotherapy. To protect the integrity of the art, the practice of Judo will remain in tact as its founder, Dr. Jigoro Kano, outlined. However, as a psychotherapy the art of Judo, combined with appropriate group and individual process oriented therapy can be very effective as a form of psychotherapy to assist the patient cope better with, or overcome the symptoms of depression, some anxiety, and to help the person deal with anger issues more effectively.

This study has found that judo in combination with group and individual psychotherapy is successful as a therapy helping people who are suffering from depression, anger, impulse control issues, and anxiety.

A word of caution needs to be addressed. The success of this therapeutic tool has only been tested on non-psychotic patients. If a patient presents with auditory and/or visual hallucinations, negative or positive symptoms related to schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders, or having a clear psychotic disposition, including gross vegetative depressive symptoms, this therapy will not work. In these instances the patient is referred to psychiatry for evaluation and medication. This initial study is designed as a therapy to be used as a means in helping the patient with uncomplicated (lack of psychotic features) depression, anxiety or anger overcome, or learn how to better deal with, and function in society appropriately within the confines of their mental illness.

Recommendations, implications and conclusions were then suggested.

Table of Contents


  • a. Background of the Problem
  • b. Statement of the Problem
  • c. Purpose of the Study
  • d. Nature of the Study
  • e. Organization of the Study
  • f. Definition of Terms


  • a. General Statements
  • b. Self Concept through Self-Assessment as a Predictor
  • c. A Brief History of Judo
  • d. The Psychology of Judo: A Systems Perspective
  • e. Judo as a Psychosocial Therapy
  • f. Judo as a Movement Therapy
  • g. Judo as a Psychotherapy

Part 1: Aggression (Anger)
Neurological Basis for Aggression
i. The Evolution of the Brain
1- The Limbic System
a) The Amygdala
b) The Hippocampus
c) The Thalamus
d) The Hypothalamus
e) The Cungulate Gyrus
f) The Brainstem
g) The Ventral Tegmentum
h) The Septum and Prefrontal Area
ii. Physiological Components of Aggression (Anger)
a) Pharmacological Intervention
b) Working through anger on the mats
c) Summation

Part 2: Depression
i. Definition of Depression
1. Neurological Basis for Depression
2. Bipolar Affective & Unipolar Disorders
3. Pharmacologic Interventions
4. Interim Summary
5. Pharmacology and Depressive Episodes
6. Summation
3. Working Though Depression on the Mats

Part 3: Anxiety
ii. Definition of Anxiety
1. Neurological Basis for Anxiety
a. Clinically diagnosing and understanding
2. Pharmacologic Interventions
3. Summation
4. Working Through Anxiety on the Mats


a. Therapeutic Techniques
i. Group and Individual Judo Therapy: The Process
b. The Therapeutic Process of SCJT: How it Works
i. Part 1: Group Therapy
ii. Part 2: Individual Therapy


a. Mind-Soul-Body Wellness: A Holistic Approach to SCJT





Appendix A – Examples of measurements that have been used to assess anger, anxiety and depression

1. Sample of the Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale
2. Sample of the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale
3. Sample of the State-Trait Anger Scale

Appendix B- Shihan Sensei Jigoro Kano’s First Three Throws