Communicating Embodied Knowledge: Workshops and Round Table Debate

Communicating Embodied Knowledge: Workshops and Round Table Debate

Martial Arts Studies Conference

Cardiff University, UK

11-13 July 2017

At this year’s Martial Arts Studies Conference, we will set aside time for workshops and a round table panel discussion that will explore key problematics pertinent to anyone researching, writing about or teaching martial arts.

This problem has been well posed by Loïc Wacquant, who puts it like this:

How to go from the guts to the intellect, from the comprehension of the flesh to the knowledge of the text? Here is a real problem of concrete epistemology about which we have not sufficiently reflected, and which for a long time seemed to me irresolvable. To restitute the carnal dimension of ordinary existence and the bodily anchoring of the practical knowledge constitutive of pugilism – but also of every practice, even the least ‘bodily’ in appearance – requires indeed a complete overhaul of our way of writing social science. (Loïc Wacquant, ‘The Body, The Ghetto and the Penal State’, Qual Sociol, 2009, p.122)

Not everyone working in martial arts studies will regard themselves as a social scientist, and not everyone need be completely satisfied with Wacquant’s own solution. (Wacquant mixes different styles of writing, different modes of address: sometimes literary/descriptive, sometimes confessional, emotional, ethnographic, sometimes analytical, and so on.) But all of us working in martial arts studies will benefit from thinking about this problematic further.

Some of the questions that spring up here include:

·      What concepts, metaphors, images and vocabularies are best able to convey embodied knowledge, skill, technique, experience?

·      Does one have to experience a martial art to be able to know it or write about it?

·      Is the written word actually capable of communicating any of this?

·      Might other, newer media be any better?

·      In addition to the question of how to go ‘from the guts to the intellect’, is it possible to ‘go from the intellect to the guts’, and be able to truly experience what others experienced, as in projects that try to reconstruct lost or past physical knowledge, such as HEMA?

·      Do we need a complete overhaul of our ways of thinking and our styles of academic writing?

In order to dedicate time and space to these questions, we will first break out into different groups and then regroup for a round-table panel and discussion.

The break out groups will be self-selecting and organised by the familiar ways we already tend to categorise the main kinds of approach to martial arts. So there may be a group focusing on weapons-based arts, another focusing on grappling styles, another on striking, pugilistic martial arts, and another on internal martial arts, one on reconstructed arts, and so on.

After working in our groups, we will all reconvene together and spokespeople will report back to everyone about each group’s main findings, issues, agreements and disagreements, which will lead into an open discussion.

Participation will of course be entirely voluntary.

Should anyone have specific ideas and suggestions related to any of this, please let me know by email (BowmanP@cardiff.ac.uk).

different-styles

Kai Morgan’s Write Ups of Our Events

Independent, non-academic martial arts blogger Kai Morgan has written up the following informal reports and reflections on many of the Network events:

http://www.budo-inochi.com/violence-vulnerability-and-visions/ [Overall write-up of the Martial Arts Studies: Gender Issues in Theory and Practice conference, hosted by the University of Brighton on Friday 5 February 2016]

http://www.budo-inochi.com/kung-fury-contemporary-debates-martial-arts-cinema-conference-write/ [Overall write-up of the Kung Fury: Contemporary Debates in Martial Arts Cinema conference]

https://fitisafeministissue.com/2016/04/16/are-kick-ass-martial-arts-movie-heroines-empowering-or-not-guest-post/ [Based on Colette Balmain’s talk at the Kung Fury: Contemporary Debates in Martial Arts Cinema Conference: ‘Chick Kicks: Bad-ass heroines of Hong Kong Cinema’]

https://goodmenproject.com/guy-talk/chasing-boyhood-dreams-is-actually-a-fast-track-to-maturity-wcz/ [Based on three of the talks at the Kung Fury: Contemporary Debates in Martial Arts Cinema conference]

https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/the-attraction-of-violence-wcz/ [Reflections on an awkward moment at the Martial Arts Studies: Gender Issues in Theory and Practice conference, and write-up of a follow-up telephone conversation about it with Paul Bowman]

http://www.budo-inochi.com/eight-reasons-to-train-in-lightsaber-combat/ [Based on Ben Judkins’ talk at the 2016 MAS Conference: ‘Liminoid Longings and Liminal Belonging: Hyper-reality, History and the Search for Meaning in the Modern Martial Arts’]

http://www.budo-inochi.com/five-ways-sparring-can-change-you-as-a-person/ [Based on Janet O’Shea talk at the 2016 MAS Conference: ‘Making Play Work: Competition, Spectacle and Intersubjectivity in Sparring and Sport Fighting’]

http://www.budo-inochi.com/possible-recreate-lost-martial-art-old-training-manuals/ [Based on Daniel Jaquet’s talk at the 2016 MAS Conference: ‘Lost Embodied Knowledge: Experimenting with Historical European Martial Arts out of books’]

http://www.budo-inochi.com/ten-reasons-you-should-exploit-martial-arts-myths/ [Based on Neil R Hall’s talk at the 2016 MAS Conference: ‘A Convenient Myth’]

http://www.kungfupodcasts.com/index.php?route=news/article&news_id=33 [A two-part podcast on Kung Fu Podcasts, inspired by Kai Morgan’s article (below) on Ben Spatz’s lecture]

http://www.budo-inochi.com/looking-secrets-within-martial-art-study/ [Based on a lecture given by Ben Spatz at the 2016 MAS Conference – ‘Embodied Research: An Epistemic Context for Martial Arts Practice’]

http://www.budo-inochi.com/martial-arts-can-powerful-route-mindfulness/ [Based on a talk by Deborah Middleton – ‘Mindfulness and Performance’ – at the Mindfulness Turn in Martial, Healing and Performance Arts conference]

http://www.budo-inochi.com/beautiful-exercise-illuminates-bruce-lees-way-no-way/ [Based on a session by Pasquale Esposito – ‘The Spell of Our Body’s Point of View’ at the Mindfulness Turn in Martial, Healing and Performance Arts conference]

http://www.budo-inochi.com/is-lightsaber-combat-a-real-martial-art/ [Based on (a) Martin Meyer’s talk at the 2016 MAS Conference (b) Ben Judkins’ article in Volume 2 of the MAS Journal: ‘The Seven Forms of Lightsaber Combat: Hyperreality and the Invention of the Martial Arts’]

http://www.budo-inochi.com/new-research-martial-arts-and-mindfulness/ [Overall write-up of the Mindfulness Turn in Martial, Healing and Performance Arts conference, held at the University of Huddersfield on Saturday 19 November 2016.]

Has Martial Arts Studies had an Impact?

As you may know, last year the Martial Arts Studies Research Network received funding for conferences and activities from the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). This funding is soon (too soon) coming to an end.

In order to apply for further funding, I need to show the AHRC (or indeed any other possible funder) that our network activities to date have had an impact or influence.

So, I am calling on those who have encountered our activities to ponder this question: has the encounter changed anything you do?

Maybe you encountered the Martial Arts Studies Research Network directly, by attending one of our events or conferences. Or maybe you have encountered us indirectly, by reading one of our associated blogs, or by watching one of the talks on our YouTube channel.

In either case, has this changed anything that you do?

The AHRC thinks about change in terms of two contexts.

  • The first is ‘inside the university’. So, if you are in a university, have any of our activities altered or enriched anything that you do in terms of your writing, teaching or research?
  • The second AHRC context is ‘outside the university’, or ‘in society’, or ‘in the community’. So, have any of our activities altered or enriched anything that you do in non-academic places – whether that be, say, teaching martial arts, any outreach activities you may do, any community building, film making, writing, or anything like that?

The more examples I can give of the Martial Arts Studies Research Network having an influence, impact, or changing people’s activities or lives, in any small or large way, the more chance I have of winning further funding to continue our activities.

So, please don’t be shy. If something changed after attending, participating, viewing or reading something related to Martial Arts Studies, please let me know.

Indeed, if you have a good idea for developing something new that occurred to you thanks to something we’ve done, please let me know. One of the types of funding I’m applying for is called ‘follow on funding’. This would allow us to develop projects that link up academic work with communities or society more widely.

So, please don’t be modest or shy. You may think your change was little, but others – including funding bodies – may regard it as something significant, that they’d like to sponsor further.

To discuss anything about this, please contact me by email: BowmanP@cardiff.ac.uk

For your information: the official network site is here  my blog is here  the Facebook page is here, the YouTube channel is here, and the Twitter feed is here. Also, of course, the academic journal is here.

For anyone out there who has a blog, website, or association that they would be happy to say is intellectually and ethically affiliated with the Martial Arts Studies Research Network, please also let me know.

Thank you!

Paul