Comparing martial art pedagogies: Teachings in the Leung Ting WingTsunkuen: In the EWTO-Italy-England-Germany and in the IWTA-South Korea

This paper explores a pedagogic trend occurring within Asian martial arts practiced in the “West”, taking as a case study the Leung Ting lineage of WingTsunkuen (梁挺詠春拳). It compares the pedagogy adopted in South Korea to teach this traditional Chinese kungfu system with teaching methods used in England, Germany, and Italy. The WingTsunkuen syllabus has been updated a number of times as various grandmasters have modified their pedagogies to fit a variety of purposes. Teachers attempt to remain loyal to the Chinese tradition while moderating their teaching methods to meet the desire of most students to learn practical self-defence techniques. Data for the initial comparison are drawn from historical and contemporary texts along with ethnographic field-work, including two years recent experience of participant-observation in WingTsunkuen classes in Seoul and long term past training experience in Livorno. This paper analyses the comparative data and proposes reasons for the pedagogical differences between classes in Korea and Italy. It argues that WingTsunkuen pedagogical changes are the result of negotiating tradition with modernity in an attempt to provide an updated, efficient, and “realistic” course in self-defence, as preferred by the mass of students. Scholarly communities have also contributed scientific knowledge to this trend as martial arts classes have been adopted into the curricula of a growing number of institutions of higher education. No research has yet compared the pedagogies used in different classes of a single Chinese martial art. This article attempts to fill that gap in the scholarly literature of martial arts by providing a comparative theoretical model for researchers studying change in other martial arts. Martial art instructors may also find that this model will assist them in developing new training methods.

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