From phenomenology to a theory of corporal combat and martial arts

Cristiano Barreira


This work aims to propose, based on previous phenomenological outcomes, a Theory of Corporal Combat Phenomenon (TCCP) and to anticipate directions for the propositions of a Theory of Martial Arts Phenomenon. Although theories concerning Martial Arts (MA) aren’t uncommon, there is not one based on phenomenological analysis. Previous theories concern natural assumptions about values and conceptions of what MA is, or even deconstruct the phenomena. Guided by Edmund Husserl's philosophy, outcomes about combat experiences analyzed by bracketing natural knowledge allow us to grasp the inner structural intentionality that, in all varieties of manifestations, gives into existence the Martial Arts. A significant essential approaching of corporal combat has been made by Figueiredo (2009), who conceptualizes Combat Sport by having the body as target and means of the actions. But not all Corporal Combat manifestations analyzed to return “to the things themselves” -  Physical Brawl, Fighting, Playing of fighting, Duel, Self-defence and Instrumental Offensive Combat - are MA&CS (Barreira, 2017). Findings are simplified and presented as a theory fostering not only a more accessible apprehension but the visualization of new investigative problems focused on Martial Arts practitioners’ experiences in different contexts. The TCCP leads to the conclusion that corporal fighting experience is central to MA manifestations as practices involving complex phenomena such as teaching, learning, training and fighting practices in community contexts. Future descriptions on how martial arts practitioners’ development occurs when experiencing different Corporal Combat help to develop a Theory of MA Phenomenon.


Phenomenology; martial arts; combat sports

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