Professionalisation of Martial Arts: Case of University of Derby Developing a BA (Hons) Joint Honours Degree in Martial Arts with the European Wing Tsun Organisation in Heidelberg Germany

This paper is to discuss the development of a BA (HONS) degree programme with a partner in Germany. This is a new area of study within the British higher education sector, and potentially European and was originally trialled in the UK prior to being developed fully in Germany. In contrast Japan and China have a long history of acceptance within these areas of study. This is illustrated by the high number of institutions delivering innovative programmes which concentrate on the practical and experiential aspects to assist learning. The wider impact of these constructs has been well recognised, with particular reference to the enhancement of the overall student experience. Martial arts are a popular activity and sport, with high numbers of both amateur and professional practitioners in the United Kingdom. It was ranked 5th in the number of participants belonging to clubs in the UK in the early 2000’s and if all areas of study martial arts are added together it would be 13th for participated sports activities in the UK (Sports England 2006). This positions the martial arts above weight training, cricket, rugby union and athletics. With these figures in mind, recognising there may be a gap in the market, and with feed back from market research that showed an enthusiasm for professional development amongst martial artists, a degree programme was proposed at the University of Derby. Funding was gained to undertake research into the area of martial arts at University level in Japan and China at the National Institute for Fitness and Sports in Kanoya (NIFS) and Tianjin Sports University in China respectively. The programme was implemented and workshops based on the idea of using martial arts as learning tools where delivered in Finland and most recently Germany with very positive results for the participants.

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