Call for Papers: Martial Arts Studies journal

Martial Arts Studies invites academic articles of 5-10,000 words on a wide range of aspects of martial arts studies, especially those focusing on social, cultural, political, historical and economic issues relating to martial arts. All submissions will be anonymised and sent out for double blind peer review, but in the first instance, submissions must include:

  • A title and abstract;
  • A short biographical contributor note;
  • An article prepared with full and complete references and bibliography (Chicago Author-Date 16th Ed. Style)

Book Reviews:

Martial Arts Studies invites book reviews of 1,500 words on books relevant to the academic study of martial arts.

Review Articles:

Martial Arts Studies invites review articles of 5-10,000 words. Review articles should offer detailed engagement with themes, issues and problematics pertinent to martial arts studies via a high level engagement with one or more academic publication in the field of martial arts studies. All submissions will be anonymised and sent out for double blind peer review, but in the first instance, submissions must include:

  • A title and statement of the book(s) reviewed;
  • A short biographical contributor note;
  • A review article prepared with full and complete references and bibliography (Chicago Author-Date 16th Ed. Style)

Conference Reports:

Martial Arts Studies invites conference reports of 2,000 words on conferences and seminars that focused on or have relevance to to the academic study of martial arts.

Book Reviews:

Kyle Barrowman is the Book Review Editor.  He can be reached at:

Book Review Editor
Kyle Barrowman
School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies
Cardiff University
Bute Building, King Edward VII Avenue
CF10 3NB

Panel 14: Taijiquan to Mindfulness: Friday 4.00-5.30pm, room 0.14




Room 0.14


PANEL 14 – From Taijiquan to Mindfulness and back again

Room 0.14

Giles N Yeates & Tamara A Russell

Beyond Mindfulness: Introducing constructs and practices from Chinese Martial Arts into Western healthcare

Mindfulness meditation has become a widespread and influential set of concepts and practices within Western healthcare, education and neuroscientific communities. However there are several limitations emergent in the rapid transition from the heterogeneous Buddhist spiritual and cultural context of origin, to secular set of techniques in the West. Perspectives on these limitations are shared in this presentation from two clinicians who are also martial artists working with enduring complex physical and mental health problems in the UK’s NHS. Firstly the progressive disembodiment of mindfulness practices during their secularisation as psychotherapy techniques is explored, resulting in the restricted access/benefit of now predominantly sitting meditation practices to those with complex health conditions. A programme that uses Chinese martial arts movements, breathing practices and sequences to improve the accessibility of mindfulness concepts and benefits to these groups will be described. Secondly, the over-extension of mindfulness to many therapeutic mind-body practices within the Western lens is reflected upon, alongside the progressive loss of the original cultural and spiritual contexts of practices such as Tai Ji during their incorporation into Western healthcare. It is argued that these trends have inadvertently masked the unique applied potential of other ancient Eastern spiritual traditions. The Daoist concepts and practices of Flow (famously evangelised by Bruce Lee) and Neidan within Chinese internal martial arts will be shared as an example, together with their planned application within UK stroke rehabilitation.

Zhang Gehao

Bodily Sense and Spiritually Sensibility: the practices of Tai Chi Quan in the UK

This research takes one of the primary contemporary icons of Chinese tradition – the popular practice of Tai Chi – and subjects its career in both China and the West, to a series of critical interrogations focusing on three main moments; the invention and (re)imagination of tradition, the practice’s migration from China to the West, and its translation by its English practitioners. Based on ethnography in the United Kingdom it explores the contending understandings of Tai Chi among its British practitioners, both teachers and students. It explores the ways in which British practitioners’ invention and translation of bodily sense such as rou (softness), xu (emptiness) and how these bodily senses shape the practitioners’ understanding tai chi quan as a spiritual discipline rather than martial arts.

Mark Langweiler & Stefanie Sachsenmaier

On Not Neglecting the Near for the Far: The Practice of Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan

Drawing on a range of perspectives, this contribution presents a discussion of some of the philosophical principles underlying the practice of Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan. Based on the Daoist concepts of ‘the constant within change’ and ‘movement within stillness’, Tai Chi Chuan can be understood as the physical embodiment of these principles. Relying on an analysis of the underlying anatomical structures, along with concepts of the theory of practice, the present discussion focuses on several aspects of the Wu Family archive with particular emphasis on the process of ‘practising of the self’ as a means to martial skill. As a martial art it is a training system in which the practitioner prepares for the continual relational changes that an opponent might present. Through discussion and the presentation of examples of selected forms, as well as pushing hands techniques, we seek to highlight the mental, emotional and physical components this state of ‘constant readiness within the changing martial parameters’ might involve.

Panel 13: Choreographies of Gender: Friday 4.00-5.30pm, room 0.05




Room 0.05


PANEL 13 – Choreographies of Gender

Room 0.05

Luke White & susan pui san lok

Through the Window – Wing Chun as Woman Warrior

The origin myth of Wing Chun – a martial art invented by one woman for another – is striking with respect to gender. Of its many cinematic tellings, the most intriguing in reworking the figure of the heroic swordswoman is Yuen Woo-ping’s Wing Chun (1994). Sasha Vojkovic (2009) understands the film – emerging from a longer cultural tradition of women warriors – as ‘a landmark of … womanhood in Chinese cinema’ and ‘an art of empowering women and subverting patriarchal authorities’, where martial arts create a transformed femininity rather than merely masculinising the film’s protagonist. However – in spite of its rendering of a decaying patriarchy where the authoritative, sympathetic characters are overwhelmingly women – Wing Chun might be read as simultaneously undermining and reinscribing gender norms. This paper will take the form of an experimental visual/textual essay, in which some of the film’s key moments are re-cut and re-framed with a dialogic/reflexive commentary, exploring the film’s gender politics and our own spectatorial positionings. Our starting point is to investigate the repeated imagery of windows in Wing Chun. Cheng Pei-pei (who plays Wing-chun’s teacher) recounts refusing a direction, during the making of an earlier film, to exit a scene by the door rather than the window, like her male counterparts. A swordswoman, she insists, leaves by the window. Marking the boundaries of domestic (female) and public (male) space, the window, like the cinema screen, is not only a portal for gazes and misrecognitions, but also one through which the athletic, unconventional warrior (male or female) exits and enters. As a motif, how might ‘leaving by the window’ be read as a figure of female empowerment, resistance, or otherwise? How do the film’s three central female characters and archetypes – Wing-chun (‘martial artist’), her aunt (‘businesswoman’) and Yim Neung (‘beauty’) – speak and move within and beyond its frames, to invoke different femininities? How do narratives of Yeoh herself, transitioning from beauty queen to action star, intersect with the film’s images of Wing-chun as warrior and woman? Among multiple gazes, what spaces open up for spectators to variously imagine, identify or contest the empowered, transformed and gendered woman warrior?

Gladys Mac

Wen, Wu, and Romantic Love: The Xia and Masculinities in Jin Yong’s Wuxia Novels

In 1955, Jin Yong serialized his first wuxia novel in Hong Kong. Generally categorized as being part of the New School wuxia fiction, Jin Yong had followed a literary tradition that was no longer permitted in China, with a different interpretation of the xia figure and the composition of masculinity. Jin Yong’s male characters are not fully wen (cultured) or wu (martial). His male protagonists do not consider women a source of trouble or distraction from their martial arts studies; in fact they all boldly embrace romantic love. Yet love is not the men’s sole focus, as the men in the scholar-beauty stories. These heroes are simultaneously impacted by their female companions and the political situation at the time, thus range somewhere in the middle of the wen and wu spectrum, but never completely reach either ends. Chen Jialuo, the male protagonist of Jin Yong’s first novel Book and Sword, is a handsome, learned young man hailing from an honorable family and has superb martial arts skills. In great contrast, the “hero” of Jin Yong’s last novel Deer and Cauldron is the rascal Wei Xiaobao, who is illiterate, has weak morals, and his only martial arts skill is to escape from danger. In addition to the two characters mentioned above, I will also examine Guo Jing from Condor Heroes, and Linghu Chong from Proud, Smiling Wanderer in regards to the wen, wu, and romantic aspects in the makeup of their masculinity and chivalrous characters.

PD Hyunseon Lee

Martial body in Akira Kurosawa’s early films

Martial arts films are characterized by elaborate action pictures. In his famous paper “The Movement-Image” Gilles Deleuze demonstrates the prototype of actions picture with Akira Kurosawa’s film “Shichinin no samurai” (1954). In the martial arts genre, one of the most important characters is that of the sword fighter, which embodies the performance of fighting body of men. The sword fighter plays a significant and poignant role in these films. The portrayal of the sword fighter exists primarily in the historical works of Kurosawa. These works highlight the phenotype of the Japanese martial male which is depicted with images of worriors. Kurosawa’s samurai films also pose the underlying question of ‘Japaneseness’. Other questions raised in Kurosawa’s films are: How the martial bodies are mobilised, critically interrogated and investigated throughout? To which extent Kurosawa’s unique film aesthetic is expressed and the martial body as the spectacle portrayed? How does the inclusion of the indigenous culture manifest itself? The focus of the following presentation aims to examine such questions while centring on the motive of the ‘martial body’. This equally has a close relationship with the transcultural and -national development of martial arts genre. Examples referenced for analysis are Kurosawa’s early films such as “Sugata   Sanshirō, 1943) “Sugata   Sanshirō, Part II” (1945) and „Shichinin no Samurai“ (1954).


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


Panel 11: Women’s Martial Arts 2: Friday 2.00-3.30, room 0.05




Room 0.05


PANEL 11 – Women’s Martial Arts 2

Room 0.05

Helen Owton

Performative Female Boxing Embodiment

This paper draws upon data generated by an autoethnographic research project on sporting embodiment within the physical cultures of boxing.   The researcher, H, actively started participating in women’s boxing in the Midlands (UK) with an aim to become a fully-fledged insider member of a boxing club in 2012. The methods of data collection and analysis included keeping very detailed and critical field notes in personal logs and reflective journals. Commensurate with a phenomenological approach, lived, corporeal experiences of boxing are portrayed through the use of vignettes. Key findings are grounded in the researcher’s female lived-body, with a focus on the gendered dimensions of embodiment, as well as the intense and heightened sensorial forms of embodiment encountered in the physical and masculinist cultures of boxing. Analyses of the findings draw upon this previous research which includes rich detail of carnal experience to explore the intense and heightened sensorial aspects whereby the hard-contact, bloodying, bruising, sensory dimensions of boxing strongly emerge. Findings of this research offer a greater understanding through a critical analysis of female sporting embodiment with an aim to generate potent insights to the female boxing experiences as lived and felt in the flesh.

Catherine Phipps

“I’m not the Type of Person who does Yoga”: Women, ‘Hard’ Martial Arts and the Quest for Exciting Significance

This research explores the experiences of elite women in two ‘hard’ forms of martial arts – Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). The study utilises data from two separate studies, both of which were completed in a British context. Using data taken from semi-structured interviews with 14 professional female Muay Thai athletes and 6 elite female MMA athletes, we draw upon the notion of ‘exciting significance’ to understand the emotional aspects of women’s experiences, as a means of further detailing women’s participation in Muay Thai and MMA. We found that Muay Thai or MMA provided these women opportunities to enjoy the feeling and significance of being physically ‘violent’ and feel pleasurable emotions that were difficult to achieve in other realms of social life. For instance, in entering their respective sports, these athletes sought forms of emotional experience which they argued were often not been accessible in their previous sporting careers, which often included participation in several forms of ‘softer’ martial arts. Women were also motivated by the physical and mental challenges of their respective sports; Muay Thai and MMA offered the opportunity to be physically tested, physically suffer and test their mental ability when pushed to their physical limits. Finally, these women enjoyed the opportunity to test their mental and physical defences against ‘realistic’ forms of violence. Overall, this research provides an insight into the symbolic meanings athletes attach to their participation in combat sport, and explores the situational significance of these social spaces in women athletes’ search for self-discovery and self-realisation.

George Jennings

Sharing Women’s Stories of Martial Arts: Language, Audience and the Life of Marisela Ugalde, the Founder of Xilam

The stories of women’s martial arts experiences are typically overshadowed by those of men in the popular martial arts media. This paper draws upon a recent life history of Marisela Ugalde (Jennings, forthcoming), the founder of Xilam, who is one of the few verified female founders of a martial arts system. It first charts Ugalde’s life story through key periods: from her early days of training in various Asian martial arts; to research into pre-Hispanic martial arts and indigenous wrestling styles; to an apprenticeship under a shaman-master; to the founding and promotion of her own martial art and life philosophy within Mexico and beyond. The second focal point is stimulated by ongoing discussions with Ugalde and a reflexive musing on my own positioning and limitations in how to portray and share her story in different tongues and outlets in order to maximize its potential for an audience outside academia and social scientific martial arts studies. At the close of the presentation, I suggest ways to analyse, portray and communicate (particularly female) case studies such as Ugalde’s story to a wide variety of readers and listeners: Martial arts practitioners and instructors; academics and martial arts scholars; local communities and wider society; alongside international, online audiences. My presentation thus invites colleagues to reflect upon their own research into martial arts, gender, and related sociocultural issues, and dwell upon the possibilities and challenges of working with different languages, writing styles and formats, readership, and the potential for martial arts research to be appreciated by non-specialists. In sum, it provides an example of how gender-sensitive martial arts research can lead to broader considerations of methodology and communication that can be adopted at various stages of a study.


Panel 10: Historical European Martial Arts 2, Friday, 2.00-3.30, room 0.14




room 0.14


PANEL 10 – Historical European Martial Arts 2

Room 0.14


Daniel Jaquet

“That’s how they handled longswords“: Historical European Martial Arts, towards a critical definition of a concept.

This paper attempts a critical definition of the concept “Historical European Martial Arts”, also known as “Western Martial Arts” to set those apart from the western modern day mental construction(s) of Eastern Martial Arts. These terminologies have been lately accepted by broad communities of practitioners and by scholars attempting to ground a dedicated field of research. The late medieval and early modern conceptions of such a “discipline” and its associated bodily knowledge would be defined from direct source material (technical literature from an heterogeneous corpus known as Fight Books) and discussed through relatively large areas (modern day North Italy up to Central Germany, early 15th up to early 17th c.) regarding their perception and place within history of ideas, especially in perspective of what A. Tlusty (2010) defined as “martial ethic”. This comparative documented approach will then be questioned through its broad reception in the late 19th c. up to today, especially in the context of groups or initiatives which intend to “re-vive”, “re-create” or “reconstruct” or even “replicate” those martial arts. At the crossroad of academic research, cultural mediation and establishment of a growing martial sport, the concept will be critically analysed. A focus point being the distance between original conceptions and its reception by epistemology of social sciences, modern day representations and myths about martial arts and the concept of tradition in the context of the creation of a “new” martial sport.

Eric Burkart

Memorizing Martial Arts: The 14th Century Notebook of an Erudite Martial Artist in the Tradition of Johannes Liechtenauer (Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Hs. 3227a)

The oldest surviving manuscript in the tradition of the German martial arts teacher Johannes Liechtenauer, the ms. 3227a in the Germanische Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg, is dated approximately to 1389. It provides the first known reference to a professional fencing instructor whose system influenced martial arts treatises for about 200 years. In this paper I will discuss several questions concerning the manuscript 3227a and its genesis. After a short summary of the research history of the codex, the problem of written communication about body techniques will be addressed. These written accounts face the challenge to transmit information about the practical knowledge of experienced fighters. However, following the works of Michael Polanyi, an integral part of these skills is bound to a subjective experience of movement and cannot be expressed explicitly by the use of speech or media. The key to understanding the described body techniques therefore rests on a form of tacit knowing that cannot be verbalised or depicted. Starting from this perspective, the studies of Jan-Dirk Müller on the communication strategies of medieval fight books (which use mnemonic verses, glosses and depictions in different combinations) gain a key relevance to understanding these attempts to describe body techniques. On the basis of a codicological autopsy of manuscript 3227a I will then argue that the codex first consisted of separate notebooks which were later bound together. The anonymous scribe seems to have used these notebooks to copy the mnemonic verses used in Liechtenauer’s didactic system to preserve and memorize the concepts and techniques. He then added his own comments in different stages of writing, sometimes correcting his former statements in the light of new insights. Therefore we do have a very early documentation of the intermixture of martial arts and academic culture and of the advancement of a martial arts practitioner in the late 14th century. These observations shed light on the development of late medieval fight books as a literary genre and underline the importance of a detailed dissection of the concrete fight book to determine its genesis, intended purpose(s) and the possible situations of reception.

Sixt Wetzler

Glíma-wrestling in medieval Iceland: Technical characteristics and social functions in the light of Old Norse literature.

From the mythical match of the thunder god fiórr with Elli, personified old age, to the fights of the notorious outlaw Grettir the Strong, Old Icelandic literature is rich in descriptions of wrestling as a competitive pastime. The sources give details on techniques and rule sets: heel hooks, hip and shoulder throws are applied, and saga authors obviously aimed at an audience that had a clear understanding of wrestling terminology and techniques. The kind of wrestling described – often, but not exclusively called glíma – is a typical example of European “sports” wrestling, as we also find it in Fabian von Auerswald’s wrestling manual from 1539, in the Schwingen of Switzerland, or Breton Gouren. Glíma wrestling fulfilled several functions in social life. The wrestling ground was a stage for men to demonstrate their physical skills, but also their adherence to a socially accepted code of conduct. Social prestige was the reward for those wrestlers who dominated their opponents without breaking the rules of fair play. In this way, wrestling highlighted the Icelandic ideals of proper, manly behaviour, and enabled participants to integrate themselves into the network of friendships, mutual support, and legal dependencies that was constituting for the Icelandic commonwealth. The lecture will give an introduction into the historical properties and social implications of medieval Icelandic wrestling. On a methodological level, it will discuss how narrative medieval literature can serve as a source for the study of historical European martial arts. Furthermore, Icelandic wrestling shall be compared to practices of combat sports with similar social functions, like later European Fechtschulen, or Zulu stickfighting.


Panel 9: Pedagogy: Friday, 11.00-12.30, room 0.31




Room 0.31


PANEL 9 – Pedagogy

Room 0.31

Tommaso Gianni

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.

Charles Spring

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.

Ian Kenvyn & Alexander Boyd

The challenge of developing an effective coach education process when dealing with an ancient embodied knowledge system; the evolution of a coaching foundation degree for a Chinese Daoist embodied learning and practice system.

Coach education within the traditional martial arts exists within a field of tension that has to balance respect and acknowledgment of ancient practice with the contemporary needs to grow an educated, effective and sustainable cohort of coaches. These coaches need to be able to recognise and respond to demands from the public while still maintaining the ethos and essence of an embodied learning and practice system. This paper charts the process through which the educational charity Lishi International engaged with Leeds Trinity University to develop an innovative and unique coach education programme for a diverse student population. This process will have relevance to other forms of practice within the martial arts that are concerned with coach education and sustainability. This is possibly the first time that a traditional embodied system from the East had been validated as a degree by a Western institution. Lishi International is a registered charity that governs the delivery of the traditional knowledge system; Weihai Lishi Quanfa, known as ‘Lishi’ which is a method of Daoist embodied learning and practice from China. Having been transmitted between family generations for thousands of years Lishi was exported to the UK in 1930. Much work has been done since then to develop pedagogies that ensure Lishi continues to be relevant and beneficial to communities in the West; where it has spread to locations throughout the UK, Europe and the USA. Lishi International had inherited a traditional coach training apprenticeship that took too many years for a student to qualify, it was recognised that to meet a growing demand for coach training from constituencies of learners who were in many ways at distance, a new intensive coach education programme needed to emerge. The key challenges included a need for coaches to be trained in three areas: Firstly, to learn the structuring framework and practice of Lishi; Secondly, how to coach Lishi to others; Thirdly, to develop professional skills that would sustain them as coaches within the creative sector. Independently conducted evaluation of the programme has highlighted the student experience, and has drawn out strengths and weaknesses to the particular approach that was adopted. This evaluation is included in the key findings of the paper. The paper will inform other embodied knowledge systems (of which there are many within the martial arts) and will have utility for all those that are concerned with coach education and sustainability.