Video report made by VUB students Hermelien Goyvaerts, Dorien Vandenberk, Joël Ocula and Cleo Pavoncelli during the course “introduction to adult educational sciences ” together with the Brussels Boxing Academy (BBA)

Name of the participant and other supporting staff if relevant Hebe Schaillée, Marc Theeboom
Short description of the project? Main goals, ambitions, strategy? The Brussels Martial Arts Living Lab is funded by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and contributes to the implementation of the University’s General Strategic Plan. This 2-year project aims to bridge the gap between two knowledge worlds: the science and the practice of martial arts. The purpose is to translate existing scientific knowledge  into relevant and usable knowledge and tools for martial arts clubs in Brussels, in close collaboration with practitioners.

The project team consists of ten scientific partners affiliated to the Vrije Universiteit Brussel or the Université Libre de Bruxelles with specific expertise (such as feasibility and effectiveness frameworks) and two partners (i.e., Risicovechtsportplatfom and UNIVER.CITY) that can provide project-based support (e.g., in terms of communication of project results and guidance of students).

This series of short clips, shot during the WeKonekt event Fighting stances, gives a good insight in the philosophy of the Living Lab

CERL project title(s) & Name of community partner and/or any other supporting partners (public or private sector) VUB

Sport & Society

Crime & Society

Department of Educational Sciences

Movement, Nutrition, Health and Performance

Multidisciplinary Institute for Teacher Education

Voicing Youth at Social Risk



Research Unit of Psychophysiology applied to Motor Learning

Department of Clinical and Health Psychology

Research group on Ethnic Relations, Migration and Equality

Centre for the study of political life

Other partners

Martial Arts Platform Flanders

Brussels Boxing Academy

Brussels Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Association

Team Antwerp Piranhas

Can you provide any tangible info – e.g. module descriptor, learning outcomes, assignments, assessment criteria, …? Different students from several disciplines were involved in the Martial Arts Living Lab in 2021:

One student from the third Bachelor of Criminology did her internship at the BXL Living Martial Arts Lab. Her assignment consisted of conducting a literature study on the role and use of martial arts in detention & preparing and giving an interview in the run-up to the online event Fighting Stances. She also made a FactSheet to map the impact of this online event and write an introduction for an article in FATIQ, the magazine for Criminal Policy and Prison System (a publication of the Liga voor Mensenrechten vzw.)

A second student from the applied social sciences wrote her master’s thesis within the framework of the BXL Living Vechtsportlab. She was involved in the research trajectory that was started in collaboration with the RVSP (Flemish platform for Martial Arts, red.) in order to gain a better understanding of the extent to which and the way in which martial arts clubs in Flanders and Brussels use martial arts as a tool.

4 other students from bachelor in applied social sciences were given the opportunity to volunteer at the Brussels Boxing Academy.

In the context of the course ‘Social inclusion, youth and city’ in the Bachelor applied social sciences, an ‘impact plan’ was developed together with several students for two clubs, namely the Brussels Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Association (BBJJA) and Team Antwerp Piranhas. During this CERL project, students were assigned to monitor and evaluate a part of the operation based on a theory of change. For the impact measurement, the following steps were followed:

1.      Developing an impact plan: determining the research design: choice of evaluation method and data collection techniques, indicators, etc.

2.      Pilot study: data collection, analysis and sense-making

3.      Reporting: communicating about the impact in an adapted way in function of the intended target group (e.g. policy makers, participants)

At the Brussels Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Association, eight students went to work. At Team Antwerp Piranhas there were ten students. For the elaboration of the assignment the students were given approximately four months time in which they worked intensively with people from the field (although mainly online because of the COVID measures). During this period, monthly feedback moments were scheduled with the students, the practice organization and the education team to allow for adjustments. All actors (practitioners, teaching team and fellow students) also played an active role during the evaluation of the impact plan itself, as well as with respect to the process evaluation.

What have you changed about your programme/course in relation to CERL? ‘Social inclusion, youth and city’: we chose to develop an evaluation Rubric to include our partner organisations in the assessment. Peer evaluation was also used through the online learning environment CANVAS.
How could/will you improve your CERL teaching practice next time? More time and space is needed to merge different knowledge worlds of academics and practitioners.
Any challenges and how you overcame them? Managing my workload and find common ground in the expectations from students and partners.
Any resources that are publicly available that you want to share? Extra knowledge clips:

1.      Martial arts as a tool

2.      From theory to practice

3.      Let’s get started!