Overview & schedule

CONFERENCE TABLE

Wednesday 15 JULY
PANEL 1 2 pm
PANEL 2 5 pm
PANEL 3 1 pm
PANEL 4 10 am
PANEL 5a & 5b (merged) 3 pm

Thursday 16 JULY

PANEL 6 3:30 pm
PANEL 7 6 pm
PANEL 8 3:30 pm
PANEL 9 2 pm
Closing Remarks TO BE CONFIRMED

 

Keynote Speaker: DS Farrer (Palau Community College) – Martialité: Art, Performance, and Religion

While preparing a new research project on the Palauan archipelago, I continue to write up the findings from earlier fieldwork concerning art, performance, and martial arts in Malaysia, Singapore, and Guam. Indigenous religion, in tandem with martial arts are reported as all but ‘extinct’ in Micronesia, an assumption that I have previously challenged. Nevertheless, respecting ethnographic discretion in the maintenance of secret traditions, and in recognition of pioneering French research, I consider a study in martialité as an alternative to martial arts. Inspired by last year’s Martial Arts Studies conclave, followed by a year on Palau, I offer some tentative remarks and initial typologies of martialité. My aim is to help reconfigure the horizons of possibility for research into martial arts, religion, and spirituality, indicate the dangers of toxic martialité, and consider a study of martialité in the Palauan archipelago.

PANEL 1 MARTIALITÉ: YOGA, SORCERY AND TRANSFORMATION

What is the meaning of a ‘warrior pose’? How does yogic practice intersect with martial arts? Are the grand narratives of ‘martial arts studies’ and ‘yoga’ better supplanted with a focus on martialité? Martialités are somatic techniques and visceral symbols of physical prowess articulated in combat, trained in practice, restored in theatre and ritual behaviour, and represented in art, film, and literature. Manifested across the spectrum of embodied practices, from the local and esoteric to the transnational and commercial, martialités in movement, posture, and intention appear to be a fundamental social expression, from widespread, secularized modern postural yoga and tai chi, to vernacular martial arts, MMA, folk medicine, witchcraft, and assault sorcery – not to mention their role in ancient and modern warfare, the modern war machine, and the state. No matter how ‘secular’ the transformation of the body, and the development of the self or ‘spirit’, both are considered essential parameters in scholarly and popular conceptions of martial arts and yogic practice. Perhaps ‘spirit’ is an expression of joy, juxtaposed against the sad passions of death cults?

Some martial arts seem wrapped up in negativity, given their raison d’être is fighting, conquest, warfare, domination, and overcoming the ‘enemy’ for social, economic, and political gains. The flip-side of martialités is the ‘noble warrior ethos’ to serve, protect, and develop the self and the community, and to connect with nature and the environment on a spiritual and material level.

    •  Discussants: Jean-Marc de Grave (IrAsia, Aix-Marseille University/CNRS) & DS Farrer (Palau Community College)
  • Daniel Mroz (University of Ottawa) Martiality and Transformation: Taolu as a Yoga of Space
  • Adam Frank (University of Central Arkansas) Still Life with Qi: Wuji, Standing Like a Stake, and the Aesthetic of the Warrior’s Energy Body
  • Ricardo K.S Mak (Hong Kong Baptist University) The Invention of Spirituality in Martial Arts in Late-Nineteenth Century China

PANEL 2 – COSMOLOGIES AND HOLISTIC REFERENCES IN THE CONTEXT OF TRANSMISSION AND PERFORMANCE

The contributors will frame the martial practice groups’ art cosmologies and the holistic reference sets constructed by artistic performance collectives. Martial techniques often interconnect with a range of practices, from dance to theatre and therapeutics. The transmission processes can take initiation form and transpose into micro-social organisation and hierarchies. Several presenters will discuss the apprenticeship conditions and their contemporary transformation. Others will describe the incorporation of martial techniques and values in the process of artistic creation.

  • Discussants: Kathy Foley (University of California) & Virginie Johan (Paris-8 University) 
  • Carole Drouelle (Paris 8-Vincennes University) Martial Arts Servicing a Spiritual Theatre; Two Cross Examples: Anatoly Vasiliev and Claude Régy
  • Heidi Rasmussen (Independent Researcher) – Kalaripayat, Kalari Massage, and the Relationship with Ayurveda
  • Kolanad Gitanjali (Independent Researcher, IMPACT, Toronto) – How Movement Means: The Ritual Salutation of Kalaripayat
  • S. Gowtham (KU Leuven) Apprenticeships and Guru-Sishya Relationships in South Indian Martial Systems
  • George Jennings (Cardiff Metropolitan University) – “We are the Gods!”: From Mesoamerican Religion to Embodied Philosophy in Mexican Xilam
  • David A. Palmer & Martin Tse (University of Hong Kong) – The Civil-Martial structure in Chinese Communal Religion: A Buddho-Daoist Jiao ritual in northern Guangdong

PANEL 3 – CULTURES OF WAR: FROM CLASSICAL TEXTS TO POPULAR REPRESENTATIONS IN CULTURAL INDUSTRIES

Warfare is at the core of classical texts that relate its effects on the social classes and groups categorisation, and on philosophical doctrines of governance. The presenters will also examine the role of media and literature in constructing and disseminating myths, fantasies, ideas and discourses of martial arts, religion and spirituality.

    • Discussants: Peter Lorge (Vanderbilt University) & Laurent Chircop-Reyes (IRASIA-Aix-Marseille University/CNRS, EHESS, FU Berlin)
  • Aron Somogyi (Eötvös Loránd University) The Concept of “Hard” and “Soft” in Ming Dynasty Fencing Theory and its Parallels in Early Daoist Military Philosophy
  • Wu Dong (Beijing Sport University) Traditional Culture Connotations of the Exercise of Pushing Hand in Taijiquan
  • Manuel Stadler (Leipzig University) Roger Caillois’ Theoretical Approach to Transgression, the Festival and War
  • Olivier Bernard (Université Laval) Magico-religious in the Martial Arts: Between Social Practices and Cultural Industries

PANEL 4 – ETHICS IN MODERN FIGHTING GAMES AND MORAL VALUES REFERENCES IN TRADITIONAL MARTIAL ARTS

Ethical violence: from virtuous normative framing, codification and moral philosophies, to institutional regulations, arrangements and transgressive practices.

    • Discussants: David Palmer (Hong Kong University)
  • Martin Meyer (University of Vechta) – I Went to a Fight the other Night and a Hockey Game Broke Out” – ‘The Code’ of Fighting in North American Hockey
  • Kai Morgan (Independent Scholar, UK) – Martial Arts, Religion and Ressentiment
  • Petra Karlová (Palacký University in Olomouc) – Significance of Karate for Buddhist Karate Practitioners: A Case of Sri Lanka
  • Maciej Talaga (University of Warsaw) – ‘Have the Highest Righteous Fencer in your Mind’s eye’: Medieval Martial Ethic as a Conceptual Repository for the Just War Theory
  • Sanko Lewis (Sahmyook University) – Promoting Peace, Practising War: Mohism’s Resolution of the Paradoxical Ethics of War and Self-Defence in East Asian Martial Arts

PANEL 5 – FROM LOCAL TO GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT: FOLK RELIGIONS, CULTURAL HERITAGE AND HEALTH     

Local martial arts practices linked to the Chinese religious landscape as a means for cultural construction and national ideologies through processes of patrimonialisation, sportification and biopolitics.

SUB-PANEL 5a – CONTEMPORARY CHINESE MARTIAL ARTS: TRADITIONAL CULTURE, HEALTH AND GLOBALISATION

Chinese martial arts, designated by the generic terms of wushu or gongfu in mandarin, can be observed in various forms nowadays. These terms refer to a large variety of heterogenous practices and meanings. In China, martial arts are often practiced within the population, through local networks consecrating the relationship between the master and his/her disciples. Through an initiation ritual, the initiate enters the lineage of his master and is therefore bound to the community by symbolic family ties. Individuals identify themselves with regard of their position in the lineage but also by their belonging to this community in contrast to other lineages. Besides, wushu also refers to an institutional discipline in which national and standardized new sets of routines – discursively constructed as being the continuity of traditional lineages – are often practiced as sport whether during competition or physical education classes. Although, the ritual relationship between master and disciple has been replaced by the sport’s ideology, practitioners identify their sport and the values it conveys by reference to an authentic Chinese culture. Finally, wushu is increasingly reaching an international diffusion resulting in some adaptation. In particular, the lineage ties between master and disciple or certain cultural artefacts included in wushu are unexpectedly synchronized in abroad, especially in certain African countries. Within these various transmission networks of martial arts techniques, a shared assumption is that martial arts provide self-defense, entertainment and self-cultivation (understood as both physical and mental health) to the practitioner. Martial arts benefits for health is a common element in both practitioners and institutions discourses. In China, this shared idea has been especially blooming since the Central Administration of Sport defined in 2016 a new direction for the national promotion of sport where the “physical health of the population” (quanmin jianshen) is at the center of this political project. In the last decade, the academic community in China and abroad undertook experimental researches to systematically survey the effect on the human body of martial arts exercises and especially taijiquan. Health is also a common discursive feature among international networks of practitioners as well as a vehicle for effective internalization. This panel will address the broad question of traditional Chinese culture and the process of identification within martial arts communities. It will reflect on how notions of lineage, brotherhood, and health cultivation are mobilized as a means to convey what is thought as an authentic Chinese culture. Starting from the construction of identity within martial arts local communities in China, the panel will explore the various representations of traditional Chinese culture as discourses and meanings are reconfigured within sport-oriented practices, globalized networks of practitioners and in experimental research in the field of Health Sciences.

    • Discussant: Georges Favraud (LISST, Toulouse Jean-Jaurès University)
  • Pierrick Porchet (University of Geneva) – Re-Appropriating Traditional Chinese Culture within the Wushu Elite Sport Context: Continuity and Rupture
  • Wang Hongwei (Beijing Normal University) – The Construction of Identity in Folk Martial Arts Community: How Individual Identity becomes Collective Identity
  • Zhang Jianwei (Beijing Normal University) – Taijiquan and Health Sciences
  • Li Cuihan (Beijing Normal University) – The Notion of Martiality in Zhuang People Traditional Sports
  • Li Xiongfeng (Beijing Normal University) – Sacred and Mundane: The “KaiGuangDianJing” ritual in lion dance performances and its various modes of representation

SUB-PANEL B – CULTURALISING CHAN BUDDHISM AND DAOISM CURATIVE APPLICATION

This panel will, first, highlight the Shaolin’s martial arts characteristic in the specific context of its patrimonialisation, and analyse to what extent both Chan Buddhism and the Temple’s fighting practices can be regarded as “culture” instead of “religion”. Second, it will explore the spiritual dimension of martial arts inspired by Daoist ritual and alchemical exercises and their curative applications.

    • Discussant: Laurent Chircop-Reyes (IrAsia-Aix-Marseille University/CNRS, GEAS, CECMC)
  • Giles Yeates (Oxford Brookes University) – Daoist Spirituality, Martial Arts & Healthcare: An Interdisciplinary Journey of Translation and Application
  • Joan Listernick (Boston University) – Tai Chi Forms Designed to Treat Depression

PANEL 6 DISCIPLINED AND FREED BODIES: ASCETICS, SELF-CULTIVATION, SELF-INFLICTION

This panel will explore different ways experienced by the martial arts practitioners to explore and transform themselves. These ways range from the search of harmony with the cosmos, balance of the senses, intuition development through meditative practices, self-infliction, exceeding of pain and overshoot of physical limitations.

    • Discussant: Marceau Chenault (Lyon Est University)
  • Spencer Bennington (University of South Florida) – Embodying the Dao: Tae Kwon Do Pumsae as Moving
  • Ron Dziwenka (Salisbury University) – Martial Art Spiritual Practice: From Process to Praxis to Intuition
  • Noora J. Ronkainen & Tatiana V. Ryba (University of Jyväskylä, Finland) – Infusing a Martial Artist Identity with Religious Meaning: a Case Study of a Finnish Judoka
  • Matteo di Placido & Lorenzo Pedrini  (University of Milan) – Change Yourself, Change the World: Engaged Spirituality in Boxe  Popolare and Odaka Yoga
  • Eric Caulier (Côte d’Azur University) – Taijiquan: Tradition, Esotericism and Authenticity

PANEL 7 – CHANNELLED VIOLENCE AND TRANSCENDENT EXPERIENCES: FROM COLLECTIVE RITUALS TO INDIVIDUAL SPORT

The presenters will discuss symbols and practices of collective exorcism, access to the sacred through physical confrontation, and co-construction of risked situations shared by practitioners in sparring context.

    • Discussant: Benoît Gaudin (Versailles Saint-Quentin University) 
  • Jiao Yupeng (University of California) – “You Cannot Harm Me:” Martial Arts Networks and the Cult of Invulnerability Rituals in Modern China
  • Fiorella Allio (CNRS – IRASIA) – Symbolic Fights and Real Confronts: The Stand Point of Martial Troupes in Taiwan’s Religious Processions
  • Thomas Mallette (University of Victoria) – Accessing the Sacred: An Ethnographic Account of MMA
  • Alex Channon (University of Brighton) – Violence, Communities, and the Constitution of the Self through ‘Edgework’ in Mixed Martial Arts

PANEL 8 – ETHNORELIGIOUS IDENTITIES, NATIONALISM AND POLITICAL USES

The presentations will focus on social groups’ construction through martial arts practices and their religious references: the papers’ topics range from local groups cohesion to defend minority rights and marginalized communities, to nationalist militias and vigilantes aimed at defending exclusive ideals of imperialist countries.

    • Discussants: : Andrea Molle (Chapman University) & Benjamin Judkins (Cornell University) & Gabriel Facal (IrAsia-Aix-Marseille University/CNRS, CASE-EHESS/CNRS)
  • Gabriele Paone (Oxford University) – Kimono and Rifle. Ethnography of BJJ among the Youngest Inhabitants of a Carioca Favela
  • Raphael Schapira (Graduate Institute Geneva) – Fighting the Good Fight: Urban Evangelical Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Rio de Janeiro’s Periphery
  • Henrike Neuhaus (Goldsmiths College, University of London) – The Spiritual and Martial Body: Catholicism and Taekwondo in Urban Argentina
  • T.J. Desch-Obi (Baruch College, CUNY) – Pacts, Power, and Community Ethics
  • Andrea Molle (Chapman University) – A Nation of Warriors: The Impact of Krav Maga on the Ethno-Religious Identity of the Jewish People
  • Steven Jug (Baylor University) – Adding Faith to Martial Arts and Combat to Orthodoxy in Putin’s Russia

PANEL 9 ANALYTICAL METHODOLOGIES: INNER AND OUTER PERSPECTIVES

Methodological approaches along continuities between representations and practices: Vernacular notions and categories, body-mind experiences, subjectiveness, self-reflective writing, agency, phenomenology.

    • Discussants: Edouard L’Hérisson (IFRAE, INALCO) & Fanny Caron (IrAsia-Aix-Marseille University/CNRS)
  • Sixt Wetzler (Deutsches Klingenmuseum Solingen) – Martial Arts and Religion – An Evident Connection?
  • Noora J. Ronkainen, Noora J. Ronkainen, Anna Kavoura, Heli Siltala & Olli Tikkanen (University of Jyväskylä) – Is this Spirituality? Exploring Reflective Writings on the Spiritual in Martial Arts
  • Anna Kavoura (University of Jyväskylä) – Methodological Challenges and the Potential of Self-Reflective Writing
  • Gabriel Guarino de Almeida (PUC-Rio, Brazil) – “The Energy Manifests Itself”: Techniques of Body, Performance and Agency in Taijiquan
  • Thabata Castelo Branco Telles (University of São Paulo) – Framing Spirituality in Martial Arts: An Embodied Comprehension through Phenomenology