The Philosophy and Science of Martial Arts

A special issue of Philosophies (ISSN 2409-9287).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2023) | Viewed by 35294

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
1. Cognitive Science Program, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
2. Department of Cognitive Science, University of California Merced, Merced, CA 95343, USA
Interests: philosophy of language; philosophy of mind; philosophy of cognitive science; value theory

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The martial arts have been practiced for thousands of years and today mixed martial arts remains the fastest growing sport in the world. Yet, despite its current popularity and enduring cultural importance, relatively little scientific and philosophical research exists on martial arts. The purpose of this Special Issue of Philosophies is to contribute to the advancement of research in the philosophy and science of martial arts. I am delighted to invite you to submit your best empirical and theoretical work on martial arts to this Special Issue.

The goal for this Special Issue is to showcase exemplary work on martial arts from multiple disciplinary perspectives. For example, philosophers of mind and ethics may submit work on martial arts and the cultivation of virtues, and experimental philosophers and psychologists may submit work on the influence of martial arts on psychological well-being. Other topics of interest include the use of mental simulation during shadowboxing, flow experience during training or competition, weapons as extensions of the self, qualities of exemplary martial artists, the ethics and aesthetics of martial arts, and in general, what the study of martial arts may reveal about the nature of the human mind and human society. Integrative review articles, focused philosophical arguments, and original empirical research that is philosophically relevant will all be warmly received.

If you would like to extend upon or offer a critical response to my own work on martial arts and the mind, you may find several empirical and theoretical articles available here: https://wp.me/Pb4nZT-1Lm.

I look forward to receiving your contributions!

Dr. Adam M. Croom
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Philosophies is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • martial arts
  • mixed martial arts
  • philosophy of mind
  • cognitive science
  • exercise science
  • sports psychology
  • psychological well-being
  • ethics
  • aesthetics
  • embodied cognition

Published Papers (6 papers)

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11 pages, 220 KiB  
Article
Measuring Things That Measure You: Complex Epistemological Practices in Science Applied to the Martial Arts
by Zachary Agoff, Vadim Keyser and Benjamin Gwerder
Philosophies 2024, 9(3), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies9030074 - 24 May 2024
Viewed by 488
Abstract
We argue that an epistemology of martial arts is at least as complex as advanced epistemological positions available to the philosophy of science. Part of the complexity is a product of the epistemic relation between the knower and known, or the scientist and [...] Read more.
We argue that an epistemology of martial arts is at least as complex as advanced epistemological positions available to the philosophy of science. Part of the complexity is a product of the epistemic relation between the knower and known, or the scientist and the object of inquiry. In science, we measure things without changing them and, sometimes, complex systems can change as we measure them; but, in the epistemology of sport that we are interested in, each measurer is also an object of inquiry. As such, each martial arts practitioner has to use various epistemic tools to measure a responsive system. We proceed in three steps. First, we discuss three epistemological frameworks in the philosophy of science—perspectivism, productivism, and distributed cognition. Second, we develop an epistemology of martial arts that features components from each of those epistemic frameworks. Third, we close the paper with a brief discussion about the unique complexity available to the martial artist, focusing on the responsive measurements that occur between two systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Philosophy and Science of Martial Arts)
19 pages, 836 KiB  
Article
Looking East and South: Philosophical Reflections on Taijiquan and Capoeira
by George Jennings and Sara Delamont
Philosophies 2023, 8(6), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8060101 - 31 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1473
Abstract
In a precarious occupation, martial arts instructors must be inspiring and build a shared philosophy. Drawing on Taijiquan and Capoeira, which have their philosophical or epistemological roots in Asia and Africa, this article explores core concepts that feature in students’ enculturation. These concepts [...] Read more.
In a precarious occupation, martial arts instructors must be inspiring and build a shared philosophy. Drawing on Taijiquan and Capoeira, which have their philosophical or epistemological roots in Asia and Africa, this article explores core concepts that feature in students’ enculturation. These concepts are grounded in epistemologies contrasting with Papineau’s work on popular and elite sport, Knowing the Score. More specifically, the philosophical approach used builds upon Papineau’s chapters on focus, cheating and racism, although these martial practices are not grounded in the Judeo-Christian Western epistemologies underlying Papineau’s thinking. Indeed, one of the attractions for Western Capoeira and Taijiquan students is precisely their “strange” or exotic philosophical concepts driving specific pedagogical practices. Ethnographic fieldwork in Britain and written and oral accounts of embodied expertise are used to explore the practical uses of these non-Western epistemologies by teachers to build shared cultures for their students. Specifically, we examine the concepts of axé (life force) and malicia (artful trickery) in Capoeira, noting its contrast to Western ideas of energy and fair play. We then examine Taijiquan and the concepts of song (鬆 or “letting go”) and ting (听 or “focused listening”), considering the movement skill of systematic relaxation and the focus on specific components of human anatomy and body technique among adults unlearning embodied tension built throughout their lives. We close with considerations for projects examining the diverse, alternative southern, non-Western, and potentially decolonial and subaltern epistemologies in such martial activities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Philosophy and Science of Martial Arts)
21 pages, 321 KiB  
Article
The Effects of a Martial Arts-Based Intervention on Secondary School Students’ Self-Efficacy: A Randomised Controlled Trial
by Brian Moore, Dean Dudley and Stuart Woodcock
Philosophies 2023, 8(3), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8030043 - 10 May 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 4550
Abstract
Physical activities are generally accepted as promoting important psychological benefits. However, studies examining martial arts as a form of physical activity and mental health have exhibited many methodological limitations in the past. Additionally, recent philosophical discussion has debated whether martial arts training promotes [...] Read more.
Physical activities are generally accepted as promoting important psychological benefits. However, studies examining martial arts as a form of physical activity and mental health have exhibited many methodological limitations in the past. Additionally, recent philosophical discussion has debated whether martial arts training promotes psychological wellbeing or illness. Self-efficacy has an important relationship with mental health and may be an important mechanism underpinning the potential of martial arts training to promote mental health. This study examined the effect of martial arts training on the psychological construct of self-efficacy. A total of 283 secondary school students with a mean age of 12.76 (SD = 0.68) years were recruited to complete a time-limited (10-session) martial arts intervention, which was examined using a randomised controlled trial. Univariate ANOVAs found that the intervention improved the experimental group’s self-efficacy compared to the control group, which was sustained at follow-up. Regression analysis indicated that socio-educational status moderated this outcome. These findings support the martial arts-based intervention’s potential to improve self-efficacy and promote wellbeing through physical activity. Martial arts training may be an efficacious psychosocial treatment that can be used as a complementary approach to promote mental health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Philosophy and Science of Martial Arts)
8 pages, 272 KiB  
Article
New Concepts of Budo Internalised as a Philosophy of Life
by Wojciech J. Cynarski
Philosophies 2022, 7(5), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7050110 - 30 Sep 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2055
Abstract
Traditional martial arts continue to be interesting and inspiring to many people around the globe. Some of their contemporary adaptations attract enthusiasts for whom they are especially important. In this article, the author bases his observations on his own long-term participation. The analysis [...] Read more.
Traditional martial arts continue to be interesting and inspiring to many people around the globe. Some of their contemporary adaptations attract enthusiasts for whom they are especially important. In this article, the author bases his observations on his own long-term participation. The analysis takes into account the influence of the perspectives of Jigoro Kano and several other creators of modern varieties of Japanese budo. It can be concluded that regular, even daily, practice—cultivating martial arts and internalizing its values—co-creates the lifestyle of instructors and advanced students. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Philosophy and Science of Martial Arts)
25 pages, 3530 KiB  
Article
Muay Thai, Psychological Well-Being, and Cultivation of Combat-Relevant Affordances
by Adam M. Croom
Philosophies 2022, 7(3), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7030065 - 9 Jun 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 19733
Abstract
Some philosophers argue that martial arts training is maladaptive, contributes to psychological illness, and provides a social harm, whereas others argue that martial arts training is adaptive, contributes to psychological wellness, and provides a social benefit. This debate is important to scholars and [...] Read more.
Some philosophers argue that martial arts training is maladaptive, contributes to psychological illness, and provides a social harm, whereas others argue that martial arts training is adaptive, contributes to psychological wellness, and provides a social benefit. This debate is important to scholars and the general public since beliefs about martial arts training can have a real impact on how we evaluate martial artists for job opportunities and career advancement, and in general, how we treat martial artists from different cultures in our communities. This debate is also important for children and adults that have considered enrolling in martial arts training programs but remain uncertain about potential outcomes of training due to the lack of research in this area. This article therefore contributes to the literature on martial arts by (1) outlining a framework that characterizes psychological well-being in terms of five elements, (2) discussing how results from empirical research support the hypothesis that Muay Thai training can contribute to psychological well-being by contributing to all five component elements, (3) discussing the psychological benefits of martial arts training from the perspective of an Everlast Master Instructor, and (4) discussing how martial arts training involves the cultivation of combat-relevant affordances. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Philosophy and Science of Martial Arts)
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7 pages, 222 KiB  
Essay
Physical Philosophy: Martial Arts as Embodied Wisdom
by Jason Holt
Philosophies 2023, 8(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8010014 - 14 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3806
Abstract
While defining martial arts is not prerequisite to philosophizing about them, such a definition is desirable, helping us resolve disputes about the status of hard cases. At one extreme, Martínková and Parry argue that martial arts are distinguished from both close combat (as [...] Read more.
While defining martial arts is not prerequisite to philosophizing about them, such a definition is desirable, helping us resolve disputes about the status of hard cases. At one extreme, Martínková and Parry argue that martial arts are distinguished from both close combat (as unsystematic) and combat sports (as competitive), and from warrior arts (as lethal) and martial paths (as spiritual). At the other extreme, mixed martial arts pundits and Bruce Lee speak of combat sports generally as martial arts. I argue that the fine-grained taxonomy proposed by Martínková and Parry can be usefully supplemented by a broader definition, specifically the following: martial arts are systematic fighting styles and practices as ways of embodying wisdom. A possible difficulty here is that such views face the charge of overemphasizing the “philosophical” aspect of martial arts. My definition can, however, avoid this apparent problem. If martial arts essentially aim to embody wisdom, this applies no less to the (strategic) practical wisdom of The Art of War than to the (ethical) practical wisdom of the Tao Te Ching. In an extended sense, then, any systematic fighting style, including combat sports, may count as a martial art insofar as it embodies wisdom by improving practical fighting skills. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Philosophy and Science of Martial Arts)
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