Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 12

LA LIGNÉE CORPORELLE : CONCEPTUALISATION DE LA

TRANSMISSION DES ARTS MARTIAUX TRADITIONNELS EN


OCCIDENT
David Brown et George Jennings

De Boeck Supérieur | « Staps »

2011/3 n°93 | pages 61 à 71


ISSN 0247-106X
ISBN 9782804165468

Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur


Article disponible en ligne à l'adresse :
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
https://www.cairn.info/revue-staps-2011-3-page-61.htm
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur

Distribution électronique Cairn.info pour De Boeck Supérieur.


© De Boeck Supérieur. Tous droits réservés pour tous pays.

La reproduction ou représentation de cet article, notamment par photocopie, n'est autorisée que dans les
limites des conditions générales d'utilisation du site ou, le cas échéant, des conditions générales de la
licence souscrite par votre établissement. Toute autre reproduction ou représentation, en tout ou partie,
sous quelque forme et de quelque manière que ce soit, est interdite sauf accord préalable et écrit de
l'éditeur, en dehors des cas prévus par la législation en vigueur en France. Il est précisé que son stockage
dans une base de données est également interdit.

Powered by TCPDF (www.tcpdf.org)


Body lineage: Conceptualizing the transmission
of traditional Asian martial arts (in the West)
La lignée corporelle : conceptualisation
de la transmission des arts martiaux
David BROWN
d.h.k.brown@exeter.ac.uk traditionnels en Occident
George JENNINGS
Qualitative Research Unit, DAVID BROWN • GEORGE JENNINGS
School of Sport and Health Sciences
University of Exeter, UK

Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur


RÉSUMÉ : Cet article présente les développements récents d’une recherché qualitative en cours explorant
les formes orientales des mouvements comme transformation de la corporalité en Occident. Il décrit en
particulier les premières explorations conceptuelles de la nature, des fonctions et des processus corpo-
Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur

rels dans la lignée des arts et de la culture martiale. La nature de la transmission dans les arts martiaux
suit les propositions de Schilling (2003) qui conclut que l’une des rares certitudes à propos de notre
corps c’est qu’il peut éventuellement mourir, et que cessera ainsi notre mode de connaissance incarnée,
si laborieusement élaboré durant la vie. Le souci de construire des « arbres de famille » ou de cartes de
lignée des « corps » dans les communautés traditionnelles des arts martiaux afin d’illustrer les liens
intergénérationnels entre les maîtres-enseignants de générations successives est indicatif de ces préoc-
cupations. En second lieu, nous examinons comment la lignée du corps semble avoir trois fonctions
globales : 1) exprimer légitimement la succession des maîtres d’un art martial donné ; 2) de charger ces
successeurs de la préservation ou de la conservation des caractères distinctifs de l’art et de l’illusio de sa
valeur ; 3) de fournir une identité collective distinctive de l’art. Troisièmement, nous considérons l’idée
de lignée des corps comme un processus social et thématisons ainsi la pratique du lignage corporel et
son langage.
MOTS CLÉS : arts martiaux, corps, sociologie, transmission culturelle, authenticité.

ABSTRACT: This paper presents some recent developments in an ongoing qualitative research project
exploring Eastern movement forms as body-self transforming practice in the West. In particular, the
article documents our preliminary conceptual explorations of the nature, function and process of body
lineage in traditional martial arts cultures. The nature of transmission in the martial arts follows Shilling
(2003) who concludes, that one of the few certainties about our bodies is that they will eventually die,
and along with the passing of our bodies will be the passing of embodied knowledge, so painstakingly
developed over a lifetime. The preoccupation with constructing “family trees” or “body” lineage maps
in traditional martial art communities in order to illustrate the intergenerational connection between
the Master teachers from successive generations is indicative of these concerns. Secondly, we consider
how body lineage appears to have three overarching functions, 1) to legitimately articulate the succes-
sion of the Masters of a given martial art; 2) These successors will be charged with either preserving or
conserving distinctiveness of the art and the illusio of its value; 3) to provide a distinctive collective iden-
tity for the art. Thirdly we address the idea of body lineages as a social process. Within this we address
the practice of body lineage and the language of body lineage.
KEY WORDS: martial arts, the body, sociology, cultural transmission, authenticity.
62 David Brown • George Jennings

Körperherkunft: Konzeptualisierung der der Transmission traditioneller


ZUSAMMENFASSUNG :
Kampfsportarten (in den Westen)
Dieses Dokument präsentiert die neuesten Erkenntnisse eines laufenden qualitativen Forschungspro-
jektes, das Bewegungsformen aus dem Osten als Praktiken der Transformation der Körperlichkeit im
Westen untersucht. Dieser Artikel dokumentiert vor allem unsere ersten konzeptuellen Schlüsse hin-
sichtlich der Art, der Funktion und des Prozesses der Körperherkunft in den traditionellen
Kampfsportkulturen. Die Art der Transmission in den Kampfsportarten geht so vonstatten wie Shilling
(2003) dies sieht, nämlich dass eine der raren Gewissheit, die wir über unseren Körper besitzen, die ist,
dass er sterben wird und dass mit diesem Verschwinden auch seine verkörperte Erkenntnis verschwin-
den wird, die so mühevoll ein Leben lang erarbeitet wurde. Die Beschäftigung mit der Konstruktion
von, „Stammbäumen“ oder „Körperkarten“ in traditionellen Kampfsportgemeinschaften, um Verbin-
dungen zwischen Generationen von Lehrern und Meistern darzustellen, ist kennzeichnend für diese
Besorgnis. Zweitens stellen wir fest, dass die Körperherkunft drei übergreifende Funktionen zu haben
scheint: 1) legitimerweise die Nachfolge der Meister einer gegebenen Kampfkunst zu verbinden; 2)

Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur


diese Nachfolger sind damit beauftragt, den distinktiven Charakter der Kunst und die Illusio seines
Wertes zu schützen oder zu bewahren; 3) eine kollektive und distinktive Identität der Kunst zu vermit-
teln. Drittens betrachten wir die Idee der Körperherkünfte als einen sozialen Prozess. Dabei themati-
sieren wir die Praxis und auch die Sprache der Körperherkunft.
Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur

SCHLAGWÖRTER : Kampfkünste, Körper, Soziologie, kulturelle Übertragung, Authentizität.

RIASSUNTO :La stirpe corporea: concettualizzazione della trasmissione delle arti marziali
tradizionali in Occidente
Questo documento presenta gli sviluppi recenti di un progetto di ricerca qualitativa in corso, esplorante
le forme di movimento in oriente in quanto pratica di trasformazione della corporalità in Oriente. I
documenti particolarmente studiati nell’articolo fanno lo stato delle prime conclusioni concettuali della
natura, la funzione e del processo di «lignaggio» corporeo nelle culture tradizionali delle arti marziali.
La natura della trasmissione nelle arti marziali segue l’idea di Shilling (2003) concludente che una delle
rare certezze sul nostro corpo è che finirà per morire, e con questa scomparsa scomparirà ugualmente
la conoscenza incarnata, così laboriosamente elaborata lungo tutta la vita. La preoccupazione di costru-
ire degli «alberi genealogici» o delle carte «corpo» del lignaggio nelle comunità tradizionali delle arti
marziali al fine d’illustrare il legame intergenerazionale tra gli insegnanti, maestri di generazioni succes-
sive, è al centro delle preoccupazioni di quest’articolo. In un secondo tempo esaminiamo come la stirpe
del corpo sembra avere tre funzioni globali: 1) esprimere legittimamente la successione dei maestri di
una data arte marziale; 2) questi successori sono incaricati della preservazione o della conservazione di
un carattere distintivo dell’arte e dell’illlusio del suo valore; 3) di fornire un’identità collettiva distintiva
dell’arte. Infine, l’articolo sviluppa l’idea di «stirpi di corpo» come processo sociale contemporanea-
mente nella pratica del lignaggio corporeo e nella lingua del lignaggio corporeo.
PAROLE CHIAVE : arti marziali, autenticità, corpo, sociologia, trasmissione culturale.

RESUMEN :El linaje corporal: conceptualización de la transmisión de las artes marciales tradicionales
en Occidente
Este documento presenta los recientes desarrollos de un proyecto de investigación cualitativa en
curso,que explora las formas de movimiento en Oriente como práctica de transformación de la corpo-
ralidad en Oriente. En particular, los documentos estudiados en el artículo hacen un análisis de las pri-
meras conclusiones conceptuales sobre la naturaleza, la función y el proceso de « linaje » corporal en las
La lignée corporelle : conceptualisation de la transmission des arts martiaux traditionnels en Occident 63

culturas tradicionales de las artes marciales. La naturaleza de la transmisión en las artes marciales sigue
la idea de Shilling (2003), concluyendo que una de las raras certitudes sobre nuestro cuerpo, es que ter-
minará por morir y que con esta desaparición desaparecerá también el conocimiento encarnado, tan
laboriosamente elaborado en el transcurso de una vida. Está en el centro de las preocupaciones de este
artículo, la preocupación de construir «árboles genealógicos» o cartas del « «cuerpo» del linaje en las
comunidades tradicionales de las artes marciales con el fin de ilustrar el lazo intergeneracional entre los
profesores, maestros de generaciones succesivas. En segundo lugar, examinaremos como el linaje del
cuerpo parece tener tres funciones globales: 1) legitimamente expresar la succesión de maestros de un
arte marcial dado; 2) estos sucesores están encargados de la preservación o de la conservación de un
carácter distintivo del arte y de la illusio de su valor; 3) entregar una identidad colectiva distintiva del
arte. Finalmente, el artículo desarrolla la idea de « linaje del cuerpo » como proceso social en la práctica
del linaje corporal así como también en la lengua del linaje corporal.
PALABRAS CLAVES : artes marciales, cuerpo, sociología, transmisión cultural, autenticidad.

INTRODUCTION Third, we turn our attention to the the notion

Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur


of body lineage as a social process, and identify
This paper presents some recent develop- some issues related to the practical and linguis-
ments in an ongoing qualitative research tic processes of transmission.
Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur

project exploring Asian movement arts such as


Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Yoga and meditation, as 1. THE NATURE OF “BODY LINEAGE”
body-self transforming practices in the West IN THE MARTIAL ARTS
(see for example, Brown & Leledaki 2005;
Brown, Jennings & Leledaki, 2008; Leledaki, & Our basis for identifying the social and cul-
Brown (in press); Leledaki & Brown (in press)). tural significance of lineage, and our interpre-
One aspect that has consistently emerged in tation of lineage as being more accurately
this project through our interviews, our in situ considered as “body” lineage is based upon
ethnographies and our documentary research Shilling’s (1993) consideration that, “it is only
has been the issue of these arts’ “lineage”. In in the context of the body’s inevitable death
our experience, the term lineage itself is very that we can understand its full social impor-
commonly used and discussed by martial artists tance” (Shilling, 1993, p. 175). As Shilling (1993)
themselves. Consequently, we have become in- concludes, one of the few certainties about our
terested in the question of “lineage” and how bodies is that they will eventually grow old and
martial arts are passed on from generation to die, and along with the passing of our bodies
generation. It is to this question and our devel- will be the passing of embodied knowledge, so
oping insights in relation to it that this paper painstakingly developed over a lifetime. As
addresses in three sections. We firstly begin by such this can be seen as a “body problem”. Shil-
conceptualizing what we mean by “Body lin- ling explains that the social significance of this
eage”. Secondly, we then discuss what appears issue is the problem it raises for the transmis-
to be three (amongst possible others) overarch- sion of valued body knowledge. In so doing
ing social functions, 1) to legitimately articulate Shilling draws upon Bourdieu’s key concepts of
the succession of the Masters of a given martial habitus and physical capital commenting:
art; 2) these successors will be charged with ei- “Physical capital cannot be directly transmitted
ther preserving or conserving distinctiveness of or inherited... because of the unfinishedness of
the art and the illusio of its value; 3) to provide the body, its development is a complex and
a distinctive collective identity for the art. lengthy process which can last for years... phys-
64 David Brown • George Jennings

ical capital... declines and dies with its bearer.” a Master’s martial arts career when they trans-
(Bourdieu, 1986, p. 245) mit knowledge. Finally, maps usually don’t
“Consequently, the possession of physical capi- show the length of time training with a master.
tal can be seen as a more transient resource
than the possession of economic capital.” (Shil-
Nevertheless, as mentioned above if we take
ling, 1993, p. 142) seriously the notion of embodied knowledge
then even if they are more diverse than the
Therefore, while these underlying existen-
maps indicate, lineages really must still be
tial and ontological “immutables” are faced by
viewed as “body lineages”. This is because,
all people in their everyday lives they are nev-
without body lineages, specific bodily knowl-
ertheless likely to become more acutely and
edge, such as use of energy, sensitivity, touch,
overtly realised when there is something of per-
“feel”, specific solutions to the problem of body
ceived value that is embedded in the body and
combat, idiosyncratic body ritual, and martial
which the possessor seeks to pass on to the next
choreographies, and the mythologised notions
generation. There are few instances where these
of “secret” techniques, contained within the

Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur


issues are more clearly brought to the fore-
myriad martial arts, as movement culture, would
ground of everyday life than the example of the
literally ‘die’ with the bodies of the last practitio-
prospect of the passing away of a master in the
ner. These concerns are particularly well illus-
traditional (and perhaps to a slightly to lesser
trated by the writings of the Tai Chi teacher
Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur

extent, modern) martial arts cultures. Therefore,


John Leporati who discusses transmission in
this biological moment is also a profoundly
relation to martial arts generally:
social moment and the realisation of the conse-
“What constitutes an ‘authentic’ transmission
quences of this event is the cause for consider- in terms of martial arts and which individuals
able concern and the stimulus for considerable received that transmission from their teachers
social change in martial arts culture. These con- is one of the most controversial topics in mar-
cerns are born out by our observations of a pre- tial arts today. Countless articles in martial
occupation with constructing “family trees”, publications have discussed it. Internet chat
rooms, list servers and newsgroups devoted to
“lineage maps”, or “genealogies” in traditional
the subject seem obsessed with it and I’ve sel-
martial art communities (see for example fig- dom read a martial arts magazine that didn’t
ures 1 & 2 below) in order to illustrate the con- have at least one letter to the editor in which a
nection between the Master teachers from practitioner claimed that ‘my sifu can beat your
successive generations. sifu’ because my teacher got the ‘real’ or ‘secret’
LINEAGE ILLUSTRATIONS HERE. transmission... As we enter an age where many
of the learned masters of the older generation
Before, moving on a few caveats are worth are dying off, how does one decide who to
making regarding the need for a critical view of study with? Whose ‘transmission’ can be said
the practice that lies behid the claims made by to be ‘authentic’?” (Leporati, John: http://
lineage maps. Firstly, although analytically use- www.patiencetaichi.com/).
ful, these maps don’t show the complexities of In our view, these brief conceptualizations
pedagogy and body lineages. Second, a senior and illustrations of the nature of transmission
student may have more influence on a junior begin to explain how the underlying stimulus
class mate than the official teacher. Third, an of the death of the body, the concern for the
experienced Sifu may has had several teachers, transmission of embodied knowledge has pro-
meaning that they do not have a ‘pure’ habitus foundly shaped the development of the con-
from one particular lineage. Fifth, ageing is a temporary martial arts culture. We now turn to
consideration in body lineage as it may influ- examine some of the social functions performed
ence what is passed down, and the moment in by body lineage.
La lignée corporelle : conceptualisation de la transmission des arts martiaux traditionnels en Occident 65

2. SOME SOCIAL FUNCTIONS tional martial artists to their embodied heri-


OF BODY LINEAGE? tage, is neither a mystical (although it may have
quasi mystical representations) nor cynical
2.1. To legitimately articulate the succession action (although clearly some use this modality
of Masters in a given martial art in cynical ways) but rather, following Bourdieu
(1990), can be seen as following a very practical
The most basic observation of the social
logic, in relation to struggles for survival and
function of body lineage is that its principle
precedence in the field of martial arts in which
purpose is to provide a modality to legitimately
a given martial art(ist) is currently positioned.
articulate the succession of the Masters of a given
Significantly, this practical logic is made all
martial art. Embodied martial knowledge is
the more pertinent, yet elusive and problematic
taken to be incorporated by those martial artists
given the intensification of interculturality that
who have trained with the most culturally
has evolved from the diffusion of what were
esteemed master practitioners of the previous
once localized martial arts into global networks

Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur


generation. This contact with previous masters
that now exist as common place phenomenon.
provides the next generation with a form of
In this situation transmission and succession
embodied legitimacy, which, following Bourdieu
often has to take place across very diverse cul-
(1990) can be understood as a form of symbolic
tures and the diversely socialized bodies and
and physical capital which in turn is readily
Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur

minds of its global community of practitioners.


converted into social, cultural and economic
The dynamics at play in this situation appear to
capital, through the ability of the possessor of
lead to a rapidly increased sense of concern for
this incorporated capital to demonstrate their
“authenticity” for some, just as for others (who
authenticity through martial movement and
perhaps do not have a direct lineage to connect
thus construct a claim to cultural authority in
to) it seems to stimulate the need to construct
the field of martial arts which they in turn can
new body lineages and traditions (often from a
“profit from” in numerous ways.
range of masters, a good example of this is
Such an analysis might benefit from a start- provided by the Spencer County martial arts
ing point suggested by Bourdieu’s (1993) anal- association at: http://www.spencercountymar-
ysis of the field of sport, physical capital and tialarts.com/lineage.htm). In both cases the stim-
habitus. In application we can see that struggles ulus tends towards accelerating the pace of
within the martial arts field are in fact struggles change and innovation, often ironically through
over what constitutes the legitimate martial body the invention of tradition (Hobsbawm & Ranger,
and the legitimate uses of the martial body (in 1983) in the contemporary martial arts.
this case via techniques of the body and the
moral codes of conduct surrounding how and 2.2. These successors will be charged with either
when combat techniques should used, and preserving or conserving the distinctiveness
what the goal of violent confrontation should of the art and the illusio of its cultural value
be, the appropriate style of movement etc.). In making sociological sense of why and how
The outcome of these struggles have consider- any given martial habitus is “passed on” to a
able significance for the identities of martial arts successor and it is useful to acknowledge that
and martial artists themselves and the Master is this succession also brings the responsibility of
the principle conduit who must embody and preserving the illusio (“The fact of being caught
personify this function. Subsequently, it is up in and by the game, of believing the game is
perhaps a little easier to appreciate that the ‘worth the candle’”, Bourdieu, 1998, pp. 76-77).
extremely close attention paid by many tradi- In addition successors must attempt to transmit
66 David Brown • George Jennings

the same mirrored illusio in their students, it is sociological sense, charismatic leadership and
useful to consider the insights offered by authority should not be reduced to a sole and
Weber’s theory of charismatic leadership. Weber constant focus on the combat ability of a martial
described this as, “Resting on devotion to the artist, tempting as this might be, as this obscures
specific and exceptional sanctity, heroism or the complexity of the master martial artist as liv-
exemplary character of an individual person, ing embodiment of a movement culture. While
and of the normative patterns or order revealed occasionally martial artists have fought in order
or ordained by him [sic]” (Weber & Eisenstadt, to establish a reputation, with this done, in an
1968, p. 46). However, as we have argued else- everyday practical sense more emphasis is placed
where (See Brown et al, 2008) the idea of cha- upon the performance of technique. Without
risma needs to be used creatively in order to speaking, or at least with very few words, a
accommodate the relatively more recent devel- charismatic martial artist’s “performance” can
opment of understandings of the body in the be read and decoded by those with the appro-
social sciences. In short these developments priate schemes of perception (see Brown, 2006)

Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur


might lead us to ask how might we come to in ways which signify them as belonging to a
understand charismatic acts from an embodied particular “School” or “art” and therefore re-
perspective? In addition, any application of the establishes cultural identity through the physi-
term also needs to be cautious about the fact cal act. The charismatic martial artist is thus an
Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur

that Weber’s general development of the con- accomplished performer. Indeed, the question of
cept surrounded the analysis of religious (and whether or not it really works is part of the be-
to a lesser extent military) leaders. While cer- lief framework that the charismatic martial arts
tain martial arts and their masters seem to master must construct through their perfor-
share a number of elective affinities with reli- mance for the next generation of students.
gious belief, ritual and practice, thus making the These performances are often visual as they are
above definitions useful, we also find Sennett’s for a group of people. In one-on-one situations,
(1977) notion of “secular charisma” equally use- demonstrations may use touch instead. Thus
ful, when he comments: some are known for their kicks, others for their
“In a secular society, when ‘charisma’ is variations of punches, chops or “breaking” abil-
applied to a forceful leader, the origin of his ities or their complex kata. Others are know for
[sic] power is more mystifying than in a sacred
their ritualised and regulated forms of combat
society... The sheer revelation of someone’s
inner impulses became exciting; if a person training such as “pushing hands” “Chi sau,”
could reveal himself in public and yet control kumite, randoori, or “gor sau”), invariably all of
the process of self-discplosure, he was exciting. these fall short of “free” fighting of the sort seen
You felt he was powerful but couldn’t explain in street or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting.
why. This is secular charisma: a psychic strip- Therefore, if body lineage is to function as it
tease. The fact of revelation arouses; nothing
should, it needs to produce the next charis-
clear or concrete is revealed. Those who fall
under the spell of the forceful personality matic leader who is able to provide the defini-
become themselves passive, forgetting their tive practical interpretation and performance
own needs as they are moved.” (Sennett, 1977, of the art, as well as knowledge of the art. How-
p. 269) ever, our understanding of what constitutes
Applying the notion of secular (body) cha- body charisma in the martial arts master
risma to martial arts masters of successive gen- remains very limited and needs expanding to
erations we can further explore the social include, verbal, narrative, gestural and moral
dimensions of body lineage. In a more micro authority through its in situ performance.
La lignée corporelle : conceptualisation de la transmission des arts martiaux traditionnels en Occident 67

Finally, a compelling question is if, in these of other bodies.’ In this sense (and we acknowl-
martial cultures, a kind of secular “martial” edge we have focused on a particular aspect of
body charisma is itself taught as part of the Frank’s own definition and application of the
object of transmission and sought out as criteria concept) the progressively committed martial
for succession? arts students and teachers are all invested into a
culture which is based around the consumption
2.3. To provide a distinctive collective identity
of a series of bodily experiences that are pur-
for (the version of) the art
posefully constructed to produce quite pro-
One of the key functions of martial arts found bodily changes of identity over time
body lineage is to secure a sense of distinctive towards a particular end. The model for these
and valuable identity for the practitioners of a changes is taken to be the charismatic master
given art and also importantly a given version and the master’s nominated students, and rela-
of an art (see for example, Delamont, 2006). It tively large amounts of respect and adoration,
is important not to underestimate the signifi- as well as scrutiny are paid to these “master

Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur


cance of the desire of martial artists to seek such bodies”, thereby setting up a relationship around
identities through an art into which they invest the mimetic construction of a collective identity
such enormous amounts of time and energy. around a charismatic leader figure.
Indeed, unlike competitive and participative
Thus the process by which the culture and
Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur

sports where the identities of the participants


the individual “models” and “mirrors” the bod-
are clearly demarcated in terms of success and
ies of the master is particularly worthy of focused
pleasure respectively (amongst other secondary
study. The obvious examples of the types of
things) most martial arts remain bound up with
martial movements mentioned above are para-
life long learning of an art which in most cases
mount, but additionally the whole range of
one learns not to display, or use unless threat-
bodily consumption from the mirroring of the
ened in a real situation, which for Reid and
gesture, comportment, speech patterns, martial
Croucher (1983) amounts to a “paradox” con-
style, dress style, ritual adherence, and in slightly
sistent across many self defence martial arts,
less obviously embodied areas, interpretations
both traditional and modernized. Concomit-
of philosophy, martial history and even reli-
tant with Bourdieu’s (1990) acquisition of habi-
gious association, all become important ele-
tus, if one “becomes” a martial artist then over
ments of mirroring to better understand.
a period of time it becomes something that one
is not something one merely does or has. Dela-
mont and Stephen’s (2008) work on Capoeria
3. BODY LINEAGE AS SOCIAL PROCESS
has already made some significant inroads into
this issue. By social process we mean any identifiable
processes that lead to leadership succession in a
Furthermore, the function of body lineage
given art. As it is not easy to precisely parse
for the construction of a collective identity can
social function from social process a number of
also be illuminated by Frank’s (1995) notion of
these we have already been mentioned, we shall
typical types of body usage including ”disciplin-
limit ourselves to a highlighting a few pertinent
ing”, “dominating”, “mirroring” and “commu-
aspects of the practical and linguistic representa-
nicative”. In particular, as Frank (1995. p. 43)
tions of the body lineage process.
articulates “The mirroring body defines itself in
acts of consumption.” [Emphasis original]... This 3.1. The practice of body lineage
body-self is called mirroring because consump- “A master who has made a decision to reveal
tion attempts to recreate the body in the images his art will often withhold a central core of
68 David Brown • George Jennings

advanced teaching that he will pass on only to evolved by a few, it was also of course embodied
an approved successor. Should a suitable can- and embedded in the bodies of a very few peo-
didate never appear, the technique dies unless ple, as with the Japanese example.
one of the followers is able to rediscover or
reinvent it.” (Reid & Croucher 1983, p. 19)
Unsurprisingly, the election of a successor
therefore is a key and contentious issue and
Historically, Skoss (1994, http://koryu.com/
often the production of a special artifact (often
library/mskoss4.html), considers that the trans-
a specialist weapon) or license (often in the
mission process was implicitly understood and
form of a scroll) or is used to symbolize and en-
refined in many of the Japanese martial arts.
shrine in ritual, the legitimacy of the successor
He points to evidence that suggests the practice
of transmission of numerous Japanese martial to the Kung Fu style or ryu. The struggles be-
arts took two main of processual forms. The tween potential successors and the micro poli-
first, isshi sodden, means the complete transmis- tics and rituals engaged in as well as the moment
sion of a ryu’s (art’s) techniques and principles of succession itself are all important elements to
to one’s heir by blood and as such clearly better understand this phenomenon as a prac-

Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur


reflected cultural legitimacies that were con- tical social process. Equally, important from a
structed around heredity in feudal Japan. The reflexive sociological perspective are the reac-
second yuiju ichinin, refers the practices of tions of the sometimes disgruntled “failed suc-
teaching all the ryu’s secrets to a single desig- cessors” who see no option but to split from the
Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur

nated inheritor who was not a member of one’s art and start up their own art based on their in-
family. A good contemporary example of these terpretation. Clearly this viewpoint also ex-
processes combined was Aikido’s founder poses one powerful source of proliferation and
Ueshiba who without a son (also indicating the change within martial arts culture.
very gendered order of hierarchy in traditional Furthermore, in contemporary societies
Japanese arts), decided to make Kiyoshi throughout the world in the late modern era,
Nakakura heir to the art of Aikido in 1932. the issue of body lineage, authenticity and
Nakakura was married to Ueshiba’s daughter transmission in martial arts has become a rela-
and also adopted the family name and the first tively diverse process. As illustrated by Villa-
name of Morihiro in order to strengthen the mon, Brown, Espartero & Gutierrez (2004) the
illusio of body lineage by blood (isshi sodden), large institutionalized “official” arts such as
when of course in fact he was a designated Judo, but also arts like Shotokan, Taekwondo
inheritor (yuiju ichinin). This example also illus- and increasingly Wushu (DeKnop & Theeboom,
trates the fragility of all forms of body lineage, 1997) have developed a relatively fixed view of
because around five years later, Nakakura their history and this has given way now to a
divorced Ueshiba’s daughter forfeitted his posi- dual process in which the institution is led by
tion as heir to return to practice his original arts one or more socially sanctioned figureheads,
of Kendo and Iado. often as elected presidents, but the actual tech-
Elsewhere, as Chu, Ritchie and Wu’s (1998) nical authority (especially in the case of the
research indicates, entire Kung Fu systems, sporting arts) is deferred to a “technical com-
such as in their case, Wing Chun were initially mittee” that is charged with researching and
practised under a “silent code” that meant that evolving technique and ensuring its relatively
“in order to prevent abuse, it was passed down uniform diffusion throughout the institution.
to only a few chosen disciples and was never Therefore, in studying such a phenomenon, we
documented” (p. 83). This silent code was one must remain cautious in our ability to theorize
of the strongest means through which arts and then generalize across all processes of
forms were guarded, conserved and carefully transmission in martial arts cultures.
La lignée corporelle : conceptualisation de la transmission des arts martiaux traditionnels en Occident 69

Beyond this, the key aspect to transmission social encounters and move towards the idea
as mentioned earlier is the direct practice and of martial artists as “relational beings” (Mau-
transference of “feel” from body to body of past thener & Doucet, 2003) in which, “the subject is
master to future master practitioners. While his [sic] body, his world, and his situation, by a
this is represented in body lineage maps, as a sort of exchange” (Merleau-Ponty, 1964, p. 72).
practical process it requires direct study. In a Finally, Mellor and Shilling’s (1997) more
similar vein, the practical process of “grading” recent notion of sensual solidarity (a sensation of
is necessary to understand how martial arts cul- unity through shared experiences) might also
tures construct highly ritualized and symbolic help us to focus on the product of these social
events that validate and legitimize certain tech- interconnection between martial artists as inter-
nical and stylistic variation and through this subjective “body-subjects”. Therefore, we might
provide the foundations for the recognition of begin to explore how through practical pro-
potential successors. Indeed a close scrutiny of cesses martial artists begin to feel “physically
the structure and content of gradings (or where united” by their explicit focus on the acquisition

Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur


these do not exist, the process of recognition of of a very particular type of psychophysical and
attainment) will yield important information social conditioning. Each of these constructs
about the transmission process. However such can help us to focus upon the embodied aspects
a process is extremely difficult to access as all that individual martial artists share and give
Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur

such practices are by human necessity ren- value to through their various collective corpo-
dered, interpreted and thus “limited” by lan- real practices.
guage (see for example, Shepherdson, 2008).
That said, a combination of, photographic and 3.2. The language of Body lineage
video analysis coupled with participant observa- Our final subsection considers how the pro-
tion and phenomenologically orientated inter- cess of body lineage is augmented by the use of
views (Hockey & Allen Collinson, 2007) that language. In terms of preserving a lineage these
focus on all of the bodily senses (see Sparkes, are important accoutrements that hitherto have
2009) and are cross referenced to this visual received little attention in relation to the pro-
data can certainly provide powerful in depth cess of transmission of martial arts. The first of
accounts of this practical process. Conceptually, these worthy of mention relates to the discourses
both training and gradings might also be facili- of martial arts training pedagogy. For example,
tated by paying close attention to a cluster of well the work of Basil Bernstein ([1975], 2003) on
known sociological concepts. First, Durkheim’s discursive linguistic codes (restricted / elaborated)
([1917], 2001) notion of collective effervescence surrounding the transmission of embodied
(the perceived energy field around a crowd of knowledge in particular instructional contexts
people that causes other people to act in a way (such as during training and grading sessions at
that is not normal for them alone or in other the dojo or kwoon) could yield new light on the
groups) might be used to provide insights into verbalization of the process of these arts’ trans-
how these practical encounters between the mission. For example, we have already noticed
bodies of martial artists are productive of some- that in very traditional arts the linguistic codes
thing greater than the sum of their parts. seem to work very much on the basis of highly
Moreover, this collective energy may serve to restricted codes (where very much is assumed or
promote what Merleau-Ponty (1964) refers to simply left out) in order to deliberately focus on
as intersubjectivity in which we might begin to the practical acquisition of skill instead of the
broaden our focus away from the notion of dis- intellectual acquisition of understanding. Only
crete “martial artists” influenced by practical later are these codes elaborated (once the student
70 David Brown • George Jennings

has acquired some skill) in order to show the study of Capœira). Finally, the increasing inter-
application, “reasoning” for the movement etc. est in (auto)biographical testimony also serves
Additionally, the plethora of creeds, maxims as part of the process of linguistic transmission
and classic texts that are drawn upon for both of the art. Increasing numbers of these kinds of
everyday training sessions, for grading students “testimonial” stories are being produced, often
and for representing the ethos of the art in in discrete sections of commercially available
question (e.g. oral explanations of teachers, texts on martial arts techniques, or as fully
posters in the training hall, training manuals, fledged (auto)biographies (see for example,
web pages, etc.), all serve as important sources Jacob, 2005).
for transmission that help to interpret the All of these brief illustrations, contain a range
meanings of the art linguistically for the next of narratives that remain to be explored in
generation of practitioner. Notable examples of detail yet strongly aid the process of transmis-
these are provided by the Wing Chun code of sion because of they aid in the production of
conduct (written by grandmaster Yip Man); what Murray (1999) refers to as narrative

Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur


Master Gichin Funakoshi’s 20 principles of resources which can be used by subsequent gen-
Karate; The code of Hwarang (adopted and erations of students to make sense of their iden-
elaborated but many Taekwondo associations); tities as martial artists within these lineages.
Wu Yuxiang’s (1812-8) Mental Understanding Indeed a strong familiarity with these is often
Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur

for the Practice of the Thirteen Actions, con- taken to be an important aspect that potential
cerning Tai Chi martial principles. successors must display in order to preserve or
Elsewhere the explosion of interest in narra- at least conserve the lineage, lest, like the skills
tive theory (see for example Herman, Jahn & embedded in the bodies of practitioners, the
Ryan, 2007) and research has led to quite pro- stories are lost with their passing also.
found transformations of academic interpre-
tations of the “story” and indeed “history”. CLOSING COMMENTS
Following theorists such as Somers (1994) we
can begin to see how certain stories that circu- This article has highlighted the phenome-
late in the martial arts can be seen as various non of body lineage and in so doing sketched
forms of narrative including “metanarratives” the beginnings for why and how we might
of transmission. A good example of this is pro- begin to conceptualize its study. As with any
vided by the widely circulated metanarrative of kind of embodied, practical knowledge, it is
the origin of many martial arts, which are told highly interpreted and elusive due to the inabil-
through the story of the Indian prince turned ity to access precisely the bodily experiences,
monk Boddidharma’s passage from India to the physical capital, and embodied charisma,
the Chinese Shaolin temple or the ancient ori- through which martial arts culture as content is
gin stories that circulate in relation to Tai Chi conveyed. As such we have advocated the
and the masters of Wudang mountain in deployment of a range of methodological strat-
China. Attached to these narratives, are invari- egies and social theory that appear to us to be
ably more localized narratives which connect to useful in order to approaching this task, but we
the metanarrative of the art’s creation through do not intend this to be an exhaustive concep-
the body lineage map, which depicts how the tualization by any means. To this end, as ours
current generations martial arts teacher is con- and hopefully others’ research unfolds these
nected with this ancient history, through the ideas will be elaborated, added to and new con-
bodies of their teachers (a more Western exam- cepts may well emerge from additional data
ple of this is provided by Joseph, 2008, in his collected. Therefore, our purpose in this article
La lignée corporelle : conceptualisation de la transmission des arts martiaux traditionnels en Occident 71

has been to draw attention the significance of JACOB, R. (2005). Martial Arts Biographies: An Annotated Bi-
this issue for martial arts culture and to provide bliography. Lincoln, NE, iUniverse, Inc..
some preliminary possibilities for how it may JOSEPH, J. (2008). ‘Going to Brazil’: Transnational and
corporeal movements of a Canadian-Brazilian mar-
approach as a topic of investigation. tial arts community. Global Networks, 8(2), 194-213.
LELEDAKI, A., & BROWN, D.H.K. (In Press). Journeys of libe-
REFERENCES ration: ‘physicalisation’ as somatic pedagogy for the
cultivation of liberation in Yoga and Meditation
BERNSTEIN, B. ([1975] 2003) Class, codes and control, vol. 111: practice. Asian Medicine.
Towards a theory of educational transmission. London, LEPORATI, J. (2009). The true transmission: Exploring the
Routledge, Taylor & Francis. controversy. http://www.patiencetaichi.com/public/120
print.cfm (accessed: 25/06/2009).
BOURDIEU, P. (1990). The logic of practice. Cambridge, Polity
Press. MAUTHNER, N. S., & DOUCET, A. (2003). Reflexive accounts
and accounts of reflexivity in qualitative data analy-
BOURDIEU, P. (1993). Sociology in question. London, Sage Pu-
sis. Sociology, 37(3), 413-431.
blications.
MELLOR, P., & SHILLING, C. (1997). Re-forming the body: Reli-

Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur


BOURDIEU, P. (1998). Practical reason: On the theory of action.
gion, community and modernity. London, Sage.
California, Stanford.
MERLEAU-PONTY M. (1964) Sense and nonsense. trans. Dreyfus,
BROWN, D.H.K. (2006). Pierre Bourdieu’s “masculine domi-
Dreyfus, and Allen, Evanston Ill, Northwestern U.
nation” thesis and the gendered body in sport and
Press.
physical culture. Sociology of Sport Journal, 23, 162-188.
MURRAY, M. (1999). The storied nature of health and ill-
Document téléchargé depuis www.cairn.info - - - 189.139.126.39 - 28/01/2019 23h35. © De Boeck Supérieur

BROWN, D.H.K., JENNINGS, G., & LELEDAKI, A. (2008). The


ness, in, M. Murray & K. Chamberlain (Eds.), Quali-
changing charismatic status of the performing male
tative health psychology, London, Sage, pp. 47-63.
body in Asian martial arts films. Sport in Society, 11(2),
REID, H. & CROUCHER. M. (1983). The way of the warrior: The
174 - 194.
paradox of the martial arts. London, Century Pu-
BROWN, D. H. K., & LELEDAKI, A. (In Press). Eastern move- blishing.
ment forms as body-self transforming cultural prac-
SENNETT, R. (2002 [1977]) The fall of public man. London,
tices in the West: Towards a sociological perspective.
Penguin Books
Cultural Sociology.
SHILLING, C. (1993). The body and social theory. London, Sage
CHU, R., RITCHIE, R., & WU, Y. (1998). Complete Wing Chun:
Publications.
The definitive guide to Wing Chun’s history and traditions.
North Clarendon, Turtle. SKOSS, M. (1997). Transmission and succession in the classical
arts. Retrieved 04/02/05, from http://koryu.com/li-
DELAMONT, S. (2006). The smell of sweat and rum: Teacher
brary/mskoss4.html.
authority in Capœira classes. Ethnography and Educa-
tion, 1(2), 161-175. SHEPHERDSON, C. (2008). Lacan and the Limits of Language.
New York, Fordham University Press.
DELAMONT, S. & STEPHENS, N. (2008). Up the Roof: The em-
SOMERS, M. (1994). The narrative construction of identity:
bodied habitus of diasporic capœira. Cultural Sociolo-
A relational and network approach. Theory and So-
gy, 2(1), 57-74.
ciety, 23, 605-649.
DURKHEIM, E. (2001). Elementary forms of religious life (C. Cos-
SPARKES, A. C. (2009) Ethnography and the senses: Chal-
man, Trans.). Oxford, Oxford Paperbacks.
lenges and possibilities. Qualitative Research in Sport
FRANK, A. W. (1995). The wounded storyteller: Body, illness and and Exercise, 1(1), pp. 21-35.
ethics. London, University of Chicago Press.
THEEBOOM, M., & DE KNOP, P. (1997). An analysis of the de-
GLEYSE, J. (1997) L’Instrumentalisation du corps, Paris, velopment of Wushu. International Review for the So-
L’Harmattan. ciology of Sport, 32(3), 267-282.
HERMAN, D., JAHN, M., & RYAN, M. L. (2007). Routledge Ency- VILLAMÓN, M., BROWN, D.H.K., ESPARTERO, J., & GUTIÉRREZ, C.
clopedia of Narrative Theory. Oxford, Routledge. (2004). Modernization and the disembedding of
HOBSBAWM, E., & RANGER, T. (1983). The invention of tradition. Judo from 1946 to the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Interna-
Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. tional Review for the Sociology of Sport, 39(2), 139-156.
HOCKEY, J. & ALLEN COLLINSON, J. (2007). Grasping the phe- WEBER, M., & EISENSTADT, S. N. (1968). Max Weber on charisma
nomenology of sporting bodies. International Review and institution building. Chicago, University of Chicago
for the Sociology of Sport, 42(2), 115-131. Press.