MARTIAL ARTS STUDIES

Journal

Read our articles

Affective Mythology and ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor

Abstract

There are many ways in which we can interpret the sporting, commercial and personal success of Conor McGregor whose stories, fights and social appearances are analysed in this paper. There are archetypal traits of the hero and the trickster in McGregor’s journey, persona, legacy, and the semiosis that surrounds him through the myth of the fighting Irish, all of which I consider as affective mythologies in their psycho-discursive forms. Prior to this analysis, I revisit the discourse-mythological approach (DMA) whilst accounting for the psycho-discursive framework I developed to analyse affective mythologies. However, I found recurring mystical qualities which called for the expansion of this analytical framework. By analysing the myth of the law of attraction, I argue that a non-reductive materialist approach to mind and consciousness is necessary due to the role of mysticism and ideology in popular culture. Since the study of martial arts requires attention to cultural, political, economic, commercial, psychological, biological and transpersonal phenomena, this paper encourages more radical interdisciplinarity between cultural studies and biological sciences to develop innovative theorisations of culture, ideology and consciousness.

View/Download

DOI 10.18573/mas.47

Citation

Kelsey, Darren. 2017. ‘Affective Mythology and “The Notorious” Conor McGregor: Monomyth, Mysticism and Mixed Martial Arts’, Martial Arts Studies 5, 15-35.

Contributor

Darren Kelsey is Head of Media, Culture, Heritage in the School of Arts and Cultures at Newcastle University. He researches mythology and ideology in contemporary media, culture and politics. His recent monograph, Media and Affective Mythologies, synergises approaches to critical discourse studies with the work of Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell and other mythologists. His psycho-discursive approach explores the depths of the human psyche to analyse the affective qualities of storytelling.

The Influence of Competitive Co-action on Kata Performance

Abstract

Social facilitation is a phenomenon that can help explain performance outcomes in competitive sports. Previous research
has shown that performing in the presence of others may increase physiological arousal and that performance can be either facilitated
or inhibited depending on the skill level of the performers and the complexity of the skill performed. Although extensive research on this phenomenon has been reported in the sport psychology and related literature, previous findings have not focused on individual differences in terms of how social facilitation influences performance, and very little research has focused on martial arts. To bridge these gaps in knowledge, we investigated how a co-action situation would affect performance among 17 participants performing karate kata routines at a regional competition in SE England, comparing outcomes across age and sex variables. Expert judges awarded scores to each participant in both solo and co-action settings. Results showed higher performance scores in the co-action setting across the entire sample, with female karateka and older performers appearing to benefit the most. We argue that more research is required to explain this phenomenon, specifically with respect to understanding the apparent effects of age and sex on social facilitation.

View/Download

DOI 10.18573/mas.49

Citation

Thomas, S., Lugo, R.G., Channon, A. and Spence, A. ‘The Influence of Competitive Co-action on Kata Performance’, Martial Arts Studies 5, 52-60.

Contributors

Sion Thomas* is Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at the University of Greenwich, UK. He is a BASES Accredited Sport Scientist (Psychology), working with elite, professional individuals and teams across a number of disciplines. His research interests include the phenomenon of home advantage as well as hardiness amongst elite performers.
Ricardo Lugo* is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences and is an applied practitioner. His research is focused on how psychological and psychophysiological characteristics and the perception of psychosocial environments interact and influence behaviors such as performance and resilience.
Alex Channon is Senior Lecturer in Physical Education and Sport Studies at the University of Brighton, UK. His research interests lie broadly at the intersection of sports, martial arts and society. He is a member of the Board of the Martial Arts Studies Research Network.
Alan Spence is an independent researcher based in Japan. He is interested in the relationship between psychological factors and competitive martial arts performance. He has been training in karate for 17 years and holds a first-Dan black belt.
(*first co-author)

Editorial: Show, Don’t Tell – Making Martial Arts Studies Matter

Abstract

How can we make martial arts studies matter? Returning to the issues of triviality and legitimation raised in the Spring 2017 editorial, in this essay we explore various strategies for conveying the intellectual importance of our work to a scholarly but non-specialist readership. In recent years the field of martial arts studies has made impressive strides in terms of both growth and public exposure. Yet this success suggests that increasingly gatekeepers in the form of editors, funding bodies and promotion committees will have an impact on the development of our field. Appealing to such readers is a critical next step in the creation of martial arts studies. The first draft of this editorial was presented by Benjamin Judkins as a keynote at the July 2017 Martial Arts Studies Conference at Cardiff University. It has subsequently been edited to reflect the opinions of both authors and the current context.

View/Download

DOI 10.18573/mas.46

Citation

Judkins, Benjamin N. and Bowman, Paul. 2017. ‘Show, Don’t Tell: Making Martial Arts Studies Matter’, Martial Arts Studies 5, 1-14.

Book Review: Her Own Hero

Her Own Hero:
The Origins of the Women’s Self Defense Movement.
by Wendy Rouse
New York University Press, 2017
288 pages

View/Download

DOI 10.18573/mas.52

Reviewer

Emelyne Godfrey is author of Masculinity, Crime and Self-Defence in Victorian Literature: Duelling with Danger (2010) and Femininity, Crime and Self-Defence in Victorian Literature and Society: From Dagger-Fans to Suffragettes (2012). Her Kitty and the Cats: Mrs Pankhurst’s Suffragette Bodyguard and the London Police is forthcoming in 2018, and will be the first known book-length biography of influential campaigner Emily Katherine (Kitty) Willoughby Marshall.

Book Review: Embodying Brazil – An Ethnography of Diasporic Capoeira

Embodying Brazil:
An Ethnography of Diasporic Capoeira.
by Sara Delamont, Neil Stephens and Claudio Campos (eds.)
Routledge, 2017
244 pages

View/Download

DOI 10.18573/mas.54

Reviewer

Craig Owen is a lecturer in psychology at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham. His PhD research focused on the performance of masculine identities in capoeira and Latin and ballroom dance classes. Currently, he is collaborating on new research projects that explore the negotiation of gender identities in different social contexts.

Captivation, False Connection and Secret Societies in Singapore

Abstract

Interminable ritual repetition of set movements (taolu) has resulted in Chinese martial arts facing trenchant criticism as being useless in fight sports, mixed martial arts, and actual combat. In Singapore, the neglect of body-callousing or conditioning methods in Chinese martial arts may render them unfit for unarmed combat. This led me to ask whether the entire edifice of set practice in the martial arts is based upon a false connection. Researching Hong Shen Choy Li Fut, a Chinese fighting style notoriously infested with gangsters in the red-light district of Singapore, I was informed that all Chinese martial arts and lion dance associations are triads. Nevertheless, even here I was shown curious dancelike interpretations for martial arts moves taught. Does the endless repetition of sets captivate the performer into a delusional belief that they are becoming a better fighter? Are the audiences of such sets, performed in dramatic rendition, similarly held captive in a false connection?

View/Download

DOI 10.18573/mas.48

Citation

Farrer, D.S. ‘Captivation, False Connection and Secret Societies in Singapore, Martial Arts Studies 5, 36-51.

Contributor

Douglas Farrer is Visiting Professor of Performance at the University of Plymouth, and Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Guam. He has conducted extensive field research in Singapore, Malaysia, and Guam. Dr. Farrer’s research interests include martial arts, sorcery, anthropology of performance, visual anthropology, sociology of religion, social theory and psychoanalysis. His publications include War Magic: Religion, Sorcery, and Performance [2016]; Martial Arts as Embodied Knowledge: Asian Traditions in a Transnational World [2011]; and Shadows of the Prophet: Martial Arts and Sufi Mysticism [2009].

Book Review: Late Medieval and Early Modern Fight Books

Later Medieval and Early Modern Fight Books:
Transmission and Tradition of Martial Arts in Europe (14th-17th Centuries).
by Daniel Jacquet, Karin Verelst and Timothy Dawson (eds.)
Brill, 2016
619 pages

View/Download

DOI 10.18573/mas.53

Reviewer

Russell Alexander Stepp is a Medievalist who works principally in the literatures of North-West Europe. He currently holds the position of Visiting Lecturer of Spanish Language in the Department of Romance Studies, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

Tales of a Tireur

Abstract

A tireur is a male practitioner of savate, a martial art relatively unknown in the UK but popular in France, Belgium and much of central Europe. Savate, which is also known as French kickboxing or boxe française, is very much a minority sport in contemporary Britain and Northern Ireland, and its enthusiasts have received little research attention from social scientists. This article is a collaborative case study of one tireur: James Southwood. It draws on ethnographic research on the classes taught by Southwood, a British teacher who is an international medallist. The interrelationships between this teacher’s pedagogy, his enthusiasm for savate, and his biography are explored, drawing on his life history and the events in his classes. The small world of savate in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in which teachers find it hard to make a living, and the success of this teacher as an international competitor, are contrasted herein. The article also introduces Bourdieu’s concept of habitus in a way parallel to the work of Wacquant on boxing.

View/Download

DOI 10.18573/mas.51

Citation

Southwood, J.V. and Delamont, S. ‘Tales of Tireur: Being a Savate Teacher in Contemporary Britain’, Martial Arts Studies 5, 72-83.

Contributors

James Vincent Southwood graduated in the History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge in 2001. He has focused since then on being a Savate teacher, practitioner, advocate, and competitor. He won a gold medal at the 2014 World Championships and has silver medals from European and World Championships in 2007, 2015 and 2016. He was awarded Silver Glove grade in 2017. James is active in the organisation that runs GB Savate, serving as President from 2010-2014 and National Director of Technique from 2014-present. He has appeared in a TV series, and in newspaper articles promoting savate. Contact details are available at LondonSavate.co.uk.
Sara Delamont is Emerita Reader in Sociology in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University. Her main research interest since 2003 has been doing ethnographies of capoeira, and since 2009, savate assaut. Her most recent, written with Neil Stephens and Claudio Campos is Embodying Brazil: An Ethnography of Diasporic Capoeira [Routledge, 2017].

Contact the journal

If you would like to get in touch with the editorial team, you can leave a message below or email using the link below: