2017, Volume 13, Issue 1

The essences of martial arts and ‘corporal fighting’: A classical phenomenological analysis

Cristiano Roque Antunes Barreira1

1School of Physical Education and Sport of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Brazil

Author for correspondence: Cristiano Roque Antunes Barreira; School of Physical Education and Sport of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Brazil; email: crisroba@usp.br


Literature does not provide a clear conceptualisation of the fighting at the core of martial arts. In fact, there is not even a precise definition of martial arts. It is common to find descriptions of martial arts fighting as a derivation, simulacra, or metaphorical phenomenon of human conflict, i.e. a phenomenon without its proper dignity. To discover its proper dignity is the main goal of this theoretical research. Achieving this goal can be of fundamental importance to the whole of the research field and to clarify norms of practice regarding the two phenomena (fighting and martial arts).

Methodologically, classical phenomenology, or the archaeological phenomenology of culture, is applied to grasp the essence of these phenomena, in order to return to the things themselves. Moreover, the phenomenal distinction of corporal fighting leads to a correlative ethical aspect, namely, the mutual availability of the fighters involved and the motivation inherent in the challenge of physically overcoming another while avoiding being overcome. All varieties of martial arts involve a form of corporal fight training that unites phenomenal and ethical aspects. In the systematisation of corporal fighting, the aesthetical dimension defines one aspect of martial arts, including its operative nature; the other aspect is defined by an enhanced typification of the ethical dimension comprised therein. In other words, the ethical dimension is characterised by conduct that typically relates to combative attitudes. Lived experiences constituting fighting and martial arts have scientific and ethical consequences.

Key words: combat sports, budo, archaeological phenomenology, self-defence, simulacra, sport psychology