Contemporary martial arts: self expression or self oppression?




Johnston, Ryan David

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This study examines notions of discipline as seen in the practice of commercial martial arts and the manner in which devotees and other stakeholders approach and negotiate with it. I present arguments explaining that it is the influence of the contemporary capitalist system that generates the perceived desire to produce and hone a particular type of discipline, which is translated into labour potential. I argue that martial arts are in fact intensely ambiguous, and that the genre ultimately serves as a shelter for practitioners as well as a jumping-off point into the spectrum of application, one that is deeply implicated in the production of subjectivity. This research is interdisciplinary and so should be used flexibly in application. This project will contribute to the advancement of our understanding of the martial arts in contemporary society and the role of the body within it.



martial arts, discipline, labour power, social reproduction