Research Topic

Martial Arts, Health, and Society

About this Research Topic

The "martial arts" - more broadly conceived as "martial activities" - have existed in nearly all societies and cultures around the world, and are particularly illuminating for their range of techniques and practices underpinned by philosophically-informed pedagogies. To date, empirical research and theoretical writings have tended to focus on the combative, historical, and pedagogical elements of fighting systems and their wider cultures of combat in terms of taxonomy, habits, civilizing and modernizing processes, sensuous embodiment, mediated discourses, and indigenous knowledge.

Through revised philosophies, pedagogies, and techniques of the body, the interconnected cultures of combat match the values and expectations of contemporary society according to its modernizing and civilizing principles. The connections between these cultures of combat continue from earlier colonial, trade and slave routes that led to the spread of fighting systems for warfare and survival to sporting, self-defense, and human development activities.

How martial activities might be health-giving, dangerous or healing, therapeutic and rehabilitative activities connected to ideas on the body and medicine remain largely unaddressed. This Research Topic will examine important themes such as revised mind-body relationships, the resurgence of mass media health messages, and the revival of specific cultural or local knowledge on health and healing. The “re-” of reinvention is key in examining how martial activities can be “re-examined” or “re-constructed” as vehicles not just for fighting but also overall wellbeing. Such a holistic view on health (in physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual terms) is an essential aspect of the process of reinvention for both a martial activity and its practitioners.

In light of the dominant themes in martial arts studies and the sociology of martial arts in particular, we welcome contributors to submit original articles, reviews, reports, book reviews, position statements for this Research Topic in order to mark a new direction for martial arts scholarship. Researchers and practitioner-researchers are welcome to use any social scientific framework and methodology, but might want to consider our suggested themes of:

- (Un)healthy habits, practices and body techniques;
- Long-term processes connecting to injury, illness, and pain;
- The categorization of different martial arts systems according to models of health and well-being;
- The role of the senses for understanding experiences of wellness, pain, and injury;
- The place of competing health narratives, paradigms and discourses in global martial arts;
- Local and indigenous health knowledge and healing practices.

We anticipate a collection that will reflect the global diversity of these systems and their complex relationships with ideas of health, well-being, and illness/disease. Contributions are very welcome from researchers operating in all academic and combative disciplines.


Keywords: martial arts, combat sports, health, wellbeing, therapy


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The "martial arts" - more broadly conceived as "martial activities" - have existed in nearly all societies and cultures around the world, and are particularly illuminating for their range of techniques and practices underpinned by philosophically-informed pedagogies. To date, empirical research and theoretical writings have tended to focus on the combative, historical, and pedagogical elements of fighting systems and their wider cultures of combat in terms of taxonomy, habits, civilizing and modernizing processes, sensuous embodiment, mediated discourses, and indigenous knowledge.

Through revised philosophies, pedagogies, and techniques of the body, the interconnected cultures of combat match the values and expectations of contemporary society according to its modernizing and civilizing principles. The connections between these cultures of combat continue from earlier colonial, trade and slave routes that led to the spread of fighting systems for warfare and survival to sporting, self-defense, and human development activities.

How martial activities might be health-giving, dangerous or healing, therapeutic and rehabilitative activities connected to ideas on the body and medicine remain largely unaddressed. This Research Topic will examine important themes such as revised mind-body relationships, the resurgence of mass media health messages, and the revival of specific cultural or local knowledge on health and healing. The “re-” of reinvention is key in examining how martial activities can be “re-examined” or “re-constructed” as vehicles not just for fighting but also overall wellbeing. Such a holistic view on health (in physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual terms) is an essential aspect of the process of reinvention for both a martial activity and its practitioners.

In light of the dominant themes in martial arts studies and the sociology of martial arts in particular, we welcome contributors to submit original articles, reviews, reports, book reviews, position statements for this Research Topic in order to mark a new direction for martial arts scholarship. Researchers and practitioner-researchers are welcome to use any social scientific framework and methodology, but might want to consider our suggested themes of:

- (Un)healthy habits, practices and body techniques;
- Long-term processes connecting to injury, illness, and pain;
- The categorization of different martial arts systems according to models of health and well-being;
- The role of the senses for understanding experiences of wellness, pain, and injury;
- The place of competing health narratives, paradigms and discourses in global martial arts;
- Local and indigenous health knowledge and healing practices.

We anticipate a collection that will reflect the global diversity of these systems and their complex relationships with ideas of health, well-being, and illness/disease. Contributions are very welcome from researchers operating in all academic and combative disciplines.


Keywords: martial arts, combat sports, health, wellbeing, therapy


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

24 August 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

24 August 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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