Self-orientation in Chinese martial arts context
Drinking with your boss would probably produce a different degree of commitment than offering tea to your sifu during the Bai Si ceremony. Commonly, specific rules, habits and rituals of a kung fu community are repeated and accepted by foreigners, too. Some of these behaviors may be however very different from their own society or daily actions.
Psychological collectivism can be defined as a tendency to internalize norms of people’s in-groups and ability to understand hierarchy. Unlike the Hofstede’s macro collectivism, psychological collectivism directs attention to individual rather than the society. It describes the way we organize relationships around our own.
Chinese martial arts provide a unique environment for exploring psychological collectivism due to its strong concepts of sorted roles, such as student-master, community and transmitted philosophical influences. Is it therefore possible that psychological collectivism could be an important topic for traditional martial arts? Could it explain the functioning of foreigners inside such community and the acceptance of all its commitments? Psychological collectivism is moreover an actual topic for the sport field. Without surprise, it is said that sport teams should possess some degree of psychological collectivism to be more effective. But it nevertheless turned out that individual sports are not as individual as we thought. Indeed, close group mates can influence significantly not only the motivation of an athlete, but also the performance itself.
Since individualistic and collectivistic attributes of self are likely sampled in separated cognitive structures rather than being dichotomous, the level of individualism and collectivism may therefore differ in various contexts. Thus, different environments would have different effects. Is martial art such salient environment to influence one’s self orientation? And mainly what kind of impact would it have to the practice and theory of martial arts?
Veronika Partikova is a PhD student at the department of Physical Education at the Hong Kong Baptist University. Her focus is psychological collectivism and mental toughness in traditional wushu. She has been also practicing martial arts for the last 15 years (mainly hung kuen kung fu) and she is an active athlete, representing Czech Republic.