Anu Vaittinen and George Jennings 2016

Sensuous Transformation: The Interconnections between Embodied Training and Multi-Media Resources in Wing Chun


Anu Vaittinen [1] & George Jennings [2]

[1] University of Newcastle, UK             [2] Universidad YMCA, Mexico



To date, research on martial arts has tended to look at subcultural/embodied experience and mediated knowledge on martial arts as two separate areas of investigation. Within the disruptive, interdisciplinary camp of martial arts studies, new questions are now being raised. How might martial artists use specific visual and audio media to support their learning? How could this influence their transformation as practitioners, and the continued transmission of the art? In this paper, we examine the multisensory interconnections between the embodied practical transmission of skills and such external resources among two dedicated groups of Wing Chun exponents in England and in Mexico. The dual aim is to share preliminary ideas/analysis into how regular practitioners utilise different resources to support more hands-on training methods, and to consider the role of these resources in the development of their evolving identities as Wing Chun practitioners. We examine the topic through a theoretical lens guided by sociological phenomenology, with an emphasis on the embodied, situated, sensuous and inter-subjective nature of lived-experience. This approach is particularly pertinent for drawing out these interconnections in the everyday lives of the practitioners as beings-in-the world. The discussion in this paper draws from three main sources: 1) the authors’ respective auto-ethnographic and auto-phenomenological notes 2) observations of Wing Chun practice as participant-instructor-researchers interacting with practitioners over a nine-month period 3) an analysis of a range of mediated materials on Wing Chun and devoted online discussion forums. In short, it is hoped that this contribution offers an in-depth look at the relationships between martial arts practice and media through the symbiotic and sensuous issues of transmission and transformation.

Keywords: Embodiment; media; senses; transmission; transformation.


Author biographies


Anu Vaittinen

Anu Vaittinen is a qualitative sociologist and a health researcher based at the Institute of Health & Society at Newcastle University, interested in sociological Phenomenology and development of socially situated, sensuous embodied ways of knowing within physical cultures and health. Anu is a recreational MMA and Wing Chun practitioner and novice triathlete.

George Jennings

George Jennings is a qualitative sociologist interested in alternative physical cultures, such as traditionalist martial arts hailing from different civilisations. George is currently researching the dynamic relationships between martial arts, health and society. He is also a Wing Chun Kung Fu instructor and offers English language services to international researchers and professionals.


[1] *Corresponding author, email: