Sylvain Gagné Abstract, July 2017 Conference



Prolegomena for the teaching and academic research of martial arts: the empowerment of a field of knowledge

We are now witnessing the emergence of a field of study and research that the Anglo-Saxons call “Martial Arts Studies”, which appears in England, Germany, Poland, various countries in Asia and In the United States in particular. The efforts of dedicated academics such as Paul Bowman, Stanley Henning, D.S. Farrer, John Whalen-Bridge, Sixt Wetzler, Peter Lorge and many others show that there is a real interest in this academic discipline and field of research. Several academic conferences have been held in recent years, dozens of theses have been supported involving one aspect or another of the martial arts. The disciplines involved are as varied as anthropology, sociology, religious sciences, medicine, performing arts, literature, cinema, cultural studies, sports studies and many others. A corpus of serious studies is thus gradually emerging. A new university journal specifically dedicated to martial art was born in 2015 at Cardiff University: Martial Arts Studies; and the Martial Arts Studies Research Network under the leadership of Paul Bowman. Academic programs such as the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in the Martial Arts Studies of the University of Bridgeport or the Institute of Martial Arts and Sciences (IMAS) of the University of Derby. It is clear that the elements conducive to the empowerment of the discipline of martial arts are gradually developing. This is, of course, a transdisciplinary dialogue. In Quebec, French dissertations and theses have been approved, articles and books are slowly published. The French academic milieu seems to be listening to the discussion and the actual question is how will it be revealed in the establishment of the apparatus of empowerment of the discipline of the martial arts? I intend to go over the current advances in the disciplinary field of martial arts, both epistemological, conceptual, terminological and methodological, in order finally to propose avenues of reflection in view of a better contribution of the university institution (Quebec universities in particular) to the development of knowledge in the fields of study and research that are Martial Arts Studies.

Sylvain Gagné holds a doctorate in French Studies (1997), Université de Montréal, Canada. Sylvain worked in the public service and practises martial arts Kung Fu, Tai chi, Qi Gong. He writes a second doctorate in literature, performing arts and screen at Université Laval, Québec, Canada. His research involves the use of Shaolin martial arts onstage, and how the Western filter conditions the reception and reappropriation of martial arts as a staging language in various media: Theater, Circus, Dance.