Approaching Martial Arts Studies Events

Happy New Year!

As the first martial arts studies research network event is approaching fast, I just wanted to send a quick reminder: if you are planning to attend the Gender Issues in Martial Arts Theory and Practice Event at Brighton University (Eastbourne Campus) on Friday 5th February, please could you register via Eventbrite as soon as possible.

Registration is free, but we need to know how much (equally free) food and drink we need to order.

For anyone travelling a distance, there are any number of hotels and lodgings available in Eastbourne. However, the Devonshire Park Hotel, where the organisers and speakers will be staying, are offering a concessionary rate for anyone else who books directly with them and mentions that they are coming for this Brighton University event (£60 per night inc. breakfast).

The line up for the day is excellent, and is sure both to advance key issues around gender and martial arts. I hope to see you there!

In other news, there is still a small window of time to submit contributions on ’the invention of martial arts’. Accepted articles will be published as issue two of Martial Arts Studies.

There is also some time left to submit abstracts for the July 2016 Martial Arts Studies Conference in Cardiff. Anyone planning to attend the conference who will need accommodation should register as soon as possible in order to ensure get on the list for a room in a Cardiff University Hall of Residence. There will be other accommodation options available in Cardiff, of course, but the university halls will be the most convenient, sociable, high quality cost effective accommodation option. A list of confirmed speakers is available here.

The other research network event on the horizon is the one day conference on contemporary debates around martial arts film at Birmingham City University on 1st April. As with all our other events, we have an absolutely excellent line up of speakers.

I don’t want this update to get too long, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

For automatic updates, you can subscribe to the Martial Arts Studies Research Network feed. For both lighthearted and serious conversations, you can join the Facebook Group, like the Facebook Page, and, if you are so inclined, follow us on Twitter.

Here’s to 2016!


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Timetable: Gender Issues in Theory and Practice

Martial Arts Studies: Gender Issues in Theory and Practice

Hosted by the Centre of Sport, Tourism and Leisure Studies, University of Brighton, Eastbourne Campus, 5th Feb 2016, 10am-5.30pm

Please Register Free via EventBrite, Here

Time Session Speaker(s)



10.20-10.40 Welcome address from the Martial Arts Studies Research Network and the University of Brighton Dr Paul Bowman, Cardiff University

Professor John Sugden, University of Brighton

10.40-11.20 Engaging marginalised young men in a local boxing club Adam Hanover, Eastbourne Boxing Club

Dr Christopher R. Matthews, University of Brighton





Sex, gender and boxing: What’s changed since 2012?

Professor Kath Woodward, The Open University
12.20-13.40 Lunch
13.40-14.20 Creating supportive environments for LGBT people in martial arts clubs Anna Kavoura, University of Jyväskalä

Catherine Phipps, University of Greenwich


Plenary session: Engaging girls and women in martial arts & combat sports

15.00-15.20 break

Tales from the ring: Young boxers’ narratives of desistance from violence


Dr Deborah Jump, Manchester Metropolitan University


‘Love Fighting, Hate Violence’: Building an anti-domestic violence campaign within martial arts and combat sports

Dr Alex Channon, University of Brighton

Dr Christopher R. Matthews, University of Brighton

17.00-17.30 Book launch – ‘Global Perspectives on Women in Combat Sports’ & wine reception

Wayne Wong 2016

From the Martial to the Art: Slow Aesthetics in Transnational Martial Art-house Cinema


This paper will argue that there is a paradigmatic shift of cinematic martial arts from fast-paced “chopsocky” actions of the 1970s and 80s to aesthetic marital art-house cinema emphasizing slowness and stillness. Martial arts has always been considered a frivolous genre with little affiliation to “slow aesthetics” of European art cinema. From King Hu’s bamboo forest in the 1960s, Bruce Lee’s flying kicks in the early 70s, to Tsui Hark’s new wave “wire-fu” and “undercranking” in the early 90s, speed has been accentuated as a signifier of martial arts skills, training, and power. However, the transnationalization of Hong Kong cinema in the past two decades has gradually transformed the popular genre from the martial to the artistic, the bodily to the spiritual, and the external to the internal. Rather than accentuating what David Bordwell calls “the glimpse” and the “burst-pause-burst” pattern reminiscent of the Chinese operatic traditions, cinematic martial art-house films such as Zhang Yimou’s Hero, Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster, and Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Assassins feature extended long takes, lengthy pauses, and sparse narrative, which aim not to highlight, in Leon Hunt’s terms, the (archival, cinematic and corporeal) “authenticity” of martial arts performance, but an abstract embodiment of yijing (idea-image) through slow aesthetics created by an uncanny synthesis of mechanical mediation (wirework) and digital reproduction (computer generated imageries). More intriguingly, this accentuation of slowness emerges not only from the fantastical world of wuxia, but also from the kung fu genre with much emphasis on realism and violence. In addition to being a critique of and an alternative to fast-paced Hollywood action spectacles, this new paradigm is an exit strategy for a disappearing genre with aging talents and discontinuing lineage.

Wayne Wong is a joint PhD researcher at the Department of Comparative Literature at The University of Hong Kong and the Film Studies Department at King’s College London. He has published in Martial Arts Studies and is interested in Hong Kong martial arts action cinema, digital effects, and game studies. His current research focuses on martial arts action cinema and its digital reproduction.


Veronika Partikova 2016

A phenomenological study of being a traditional Chinese martial arts teacher
Veronika Partikova

Department of Physical Education, Hong Kong Baptist University


The study will introduce a qualitative phenomenological research held to explore what is to be a teacher of traditional Chinese martial arts by examining the structure of experience. The special attention is given to the essence of being the teacher when admitting the martial arts include certain taught strategies applicable in the fight but also in the life outside the gym. Three male teachers from Czech Republic with an average of 15 years experience and teaching in their own martial art school (club) were invited to take part in this study. A half-structured and narrative methods of interview were used in data collection. All data were further analyzed by using the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The study uncovered four topics: ego, self transformation, guidance and spiritual background. The findings suggested the teachers understand themselves as a “life guide” on the path of self transformation and liberation. Moreover, the study revealed a strong and sometimes restrictive relation between the individual and the community. Finally, the style of leading the students by their teachers was identified as “guidance non-guidance” in the reference to the Taoist “wu wei” (non-action) principle.



Biographical note:

Veronika Partikova is a PhD student at the department of Physical Education at the Hong Kong Baptist University. Her research area is a connection of sport psychology and traditional wushu. In her Master’s thesis research she conducted a phenomenological research exploring traditional wushu teachers in the Czech Republic. She has been also practicing martial arts for the last 15 years, now focusing on the southern Chinese style of Hung Kuen.



Vera Kérchy 2016

Tai chi and/as Marionette Dance


In his analysis, Aesthetic Formalization: Kleist’s Über das Marionettentheater, Paul de Man interprets Kleist’s three anecdotes as different models of reading. The essay’s narrator uses the short stories as illustrations of aesthetic gracefulness, but for de Man the battle with the bear allegorizes hermeneutic interpretation, the boy’s scene in front of the mirror shows the system of mimetic reading and the analysis of marionette dance stands for the performative textual model. I would like to make sense of the marionette’s descriptions (in particular the parts where Kleist uses a lot of mathematical expressions like ellipsis, parabole, hyperbole) by relying on the principles of the yang style tai chi chuan 48 form. I think, that the rules of lowering the center of gravity, balancing the counter movements or the specific state of consciousness (a meditative one in the case of tai chi, and the absolute lack of it in the case of the marionettes) connects the two ways of motion. On the basis of these similarities I argue that tai chi chuan can also be seen as an allegory of performative textual model, in other words as a performative performance. I would also like to analyse some artworks which mix the elements of tai chi and marionette theatre, especially Yeung Faï’s Hand Stories.


I am an assistant lecturer at Department of Comparative Literature, University of Szeged, Hungary. My main research topics are contemporary theatre theory, intermediality (theatre and film), theories of performance and performativity. I defended my PhD thesis in 2012. In my dissertation I analysed the differences between postmodern self-reflexive irony and deconstructive „permanent parabasis” (Paul de Man’s deconstructive notion of irony). It was published as a book in 2014. I have been teaching compulsory core courses (e.g. Theatricality, performativity; Contemporary theatre: postmodern) at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Szeged since 2006. I have been practising yang style tai chi chuan since 2009.




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:

Tommaso Gianni 2016

Scholars, professional martial artists, and enthusiasts of martial arts tend to address some of the same basic cultural concepts when training and studying martial arts. For example, they often discuss concepts such as ‘qi’ and ‘health’ and their relationships to traditional Chinese medicine or whether to classify martial arts as competitive sports or spiritual practices. Their assumptions and concerns are often based on perspectives promulgated by earlier scholars. This paper presents the works of three influential British scholars who conducted research on Chinese martial arts in the late 19th through mid-20th centuries. Scottish physician John Dudgeon became interested in martial arts during his search for alternative healing treatments in China. He concluded that enhancing qi through the practice of Kungfu could improve health. English sinologist and diplomat, Herbert Giles, examined primary Chinese sources describing martial arts. He determined that Chinese boxing was a very old sport activity. In clarifying the origins and nature of martial arts, another English sinologist, Joseph Needham, concluded they were a form of gymnastics based in Taoist principles. He explored the relationship of martial practices to the ‘deadly points’. Their perspectives led them to adopt three different views. In uncovering their views on Chinese martial arts, this paper reveals that these three men, publishing their conclusions in English, disseminated assumptions and conceptual issues still affecting martial arts training and scholarship today.



Tommaso Gianni lectured on comparative martial arts cultures at the University of Suwon. He is completing an ethnographic work on comparative martial art pedagogies and translated into Italian for the EWTO. Among his works published: “Tang Hao e la sua ricerca sulle origini della tradizione [Tang Hao and his quest for the origins of a tradition]” in Gioco, Dramma, Rito nelle Arti Marziali e negli Sport da Combattimento presented at the first I.M.A.C.S.S.S. conference in Genova. He has written the preface to Riccio Global TaiChi and delivered a talk at the University of Siena-Confucius Institute. He has martial experience including Escrima and WingTsun.