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Margaret P. Sanders and Nicholas P. Murray

The instructional environment of a self-defense program can influence skill acquisition, confidence, mood, and well-being. Two forms of learning responsible for the acquisition of a new motor skill is implicit and explicit learning. The purpose of the study was to evaluate a six-week implicit versus explicit self-defense training program on skill improvement, self-efficacy, affect, and subjective well-being. Thirty older adults were randomly assigned to one of two self-defense training groups, with one being taught implicitly and the other explicitly. A skill test was used to measure speed, accuracy, and effectiveness of self-defense skills learned. Participants were also assessed by a Self-Defense Self-Efficacy scale, PANAS-X, Personal Well-being Index-Adult, and Subjective Vitality scale. A repeated measure of ANOVA, post hoc test, and an independent samples t-test was used to evaluate each variable. Data analysis revealed that the implicit self-defense training group exhibited greater speed and accuracy in performing self-defense skills, while the explicit group demonstrated greater skill efficiency. Both training groups reported an increase in self-efficacy, positive affect, and subjective well-being. The findings of the study highlight the benefits of implicit instruction on self-defense training, and is unique to the older population.