Panel 12: Communities: Friday 2.00-3.30, room 0.31




Room 0.31


PANEL 12 – Communities

Room 0.31

Martin Joh. Meyer

Doormen Fraternities and their Resemblance and Affinity to Martial Arts Societies

The security sector has recently experienced a period of growth in all areas of public life, especially in the Night Time Economy. Somewhere between militia and police staff, doormen essentially administrate the ongoing flow of clients. To accomplish their tasks they have to be competent talkers, observers, performers, saviours, brawlers and comrades in arms. The main characteristic of doormen and martial artists is their affinity/interest to hand-to-hand-combat, especially in self defense settings. This explains why doormen have often martial arts knowledge (and in case not, they nearly almost have street fighting experience). Martial artists as well as doormen often develope solitary, pugnacious groups with a very distinct team spirit. My research is based on three scientific approaches: A qualitative study on motives of shotokan karateists, a hermeneutical analysis of sociological aspects within the Night Time Economy, and a current qualitative study of German doormen, which focuses on talking and (preD/postD) fighting strategies of bouncers. The current work highlights behavioural, moral and social similarities and differences between doormen and martial artists with respect to:

(1)      the muscular, combat-ready and uniformed human body as a visual symbol of intimidation

(2)      clan structures and a general priority of respect networking

(3)      theoretical and practical experience and necessity of hand-to-hand-fighting

(4)      a brotherhooded counter culture based on a special moral code, which deals with the discrepancy of hurting and protecting people

(5)      social paranoia and ambush fears

an elobared theoretical and   practical view of strategies, psychological trickery and fighting techniques in hand-to-hand-combat.

Anna Seabourne

‘The students create the teacher’: Participation in a martial art’s community of practice.

This paper uses the concept of a community of practice to explore how involvement in koryū bujutsu extends beyond formal practice time within the walls of the dōjō and into participants’ lives. There is a developing area of martial arts studies focussing on ideas of embodiment to explore individual experiences. At the other end of the scale are examinations of the role of martial arts in society, the visual arts, across cultures or as political tools. Martial arts require the participation of others (even if in the form of an imaginary opponent), and yet, this wider group is not a team. There is a lack of research which foregrounds the practices at the level of the dōjō, and in particular of the koryū bujutsu, from which, it has been claimed, many of the modern Japanese forms originate. If studies are limited to individual experiences or the wider influence of martial arts, then there is a danger of missing what could be argued is a key orientation for martial arts studies: an awareness of the community of practice which makes it possible for a system to be recreated for successive generations. This leads to questions about the nature of the curriculum, the pedagogical mechanisms whereby accrued knowledge is passed on, and the resulting network of teaching and learning relationships. Data for this paper comes from fieldwork conducted at the current head dōjō of Takenouchi-ryū Bitchūden, a system dating from 1532. The koryū are impenetrable, even for Japanese, however, a longstanding association allowed participant observation and provided unprecedented access to carry out in-depth interviews with both new and senior members of the group. Research on a particular koryū should serve as a useful example for comparison and contrast with studies of groups within other martial arts and related enterprises.

Discussant: Paul Bowman


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