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From the Calendar to the Flesh: Movement, Space, and Identity in a Mexican Body Culture

Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff CF23 6XD, UK
Societies 2018, 8(3), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030066
Received: 20 July 2018 / Revised: 4 August 2018 / Accepted: 9 August 2018 / Published: 13 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Culture)
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Abstract

There are numerous ways to theorise about elements of civilisations and societies known as ‘body’, ‘movement’, or ‘physical’ cultures. Inspired by the late Henning Eichberg’s notions of multiple and continually shifting body cultures, this article explores his constant comparative (trialectic) approach via the Mexican martial art, exercise, and human development philosophy—Xilam. Situating Xilam within its historical and political context and within a triad of Mesoamerican, native, and modern martial arts, combat sports, and other physical cultures, I map this complexity through Eichberg’s triadic model of achievement, fitness, and experience sports. I then focus my analysis on the aspects of movement in space as seen in my ethnographic fieldwork in one branch of the Xilam school. Using a bare studio as the setting and my body as principle instrument, I provide an impressionist portrait of what it is like to train in Xilam within a communal dance hall (space) and typical class session of two hours (time) and to form and express warrior identity from it. This article displays the techniques; gestures and bodily symbols that encapsulate the essence of the Xilam body culture, calling for a way to theorise from not just from and on the body but also across body cultures. View Full-Text
Keywords: body cultures; comparative analysis; Eichberg; ethnography; games; martial arts; Mexico; physical culture; space; theory body cultures; comparative analysis; Eichberg; ethnography; games; martial arts; Mexico; physical culture; space; theory
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Jennings, G. From the Calendar to the Flesh: Movement, Space, and Identity in a Mexican Body Culture. Societies 2018, 8, 66.

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