“Just be Natural With Your Body” The Paradox of Studying Pain Phenomenologically in Mixed Martial Arts Fighting

The aim of my contribution to MMA studies is to investigate bodily experiences through an autoethnographic fieldwork in an MMA club and to analyze what experiences of pain can contribute to the understanding of the phenomena of MMA in general and the violence associated with the sport in particular. I argue, that by experiencing pain, the researcher can sense the emotional and instrumental affects of MMA practice. Thereby I can identify violence and comprehend the transformation of my body’s development and evaluate the embodied accomplishments gained from the fighting process. Informed by Julia Kristeva’s notion on horror and Maurice Merleau-Pontys’ phenomenology of the body I discuss the concept of stained-violence and do so by focusing on an inter-subjective approach to the concept of a body’s abject. As a vital source of the autoethnographical knowledge, I claim that the researchers own bodily reformation is an important asset when examining the consequences of engaging in MMA training. Thus a further aim of this conference paper presentation is to apply a body-based method of performing ethnography in order to examine what kinds of bodily improvements that develops. Finally, I propose that the force in MMA that is released onto the opponent outward in the octagon is optimized and disciplined in the exchange of embodied and controlled knowledge.

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