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Contreras Islas and Jennings (2023) A typolog_George Jennings.pdf (537.67 kB)

A Typology of Martial Arts Scholar–Practitioners: Types, Transitions, and Tensions in Capoeira

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posted on 2023-09-25, 12:10 authored by David S. Contreras Islas, George JenningsGeorge Jennings

Martial arts are concerned with continuous technical practice and refinement over a lifetime, while scholarship is ordinarily undertaken by active learners and experienced (occasionally veteran) practitioners. These martial arts scholar–practitioners tend to be positioned according to specific types, from a more distant (and sometimes critical) scholar with less combat acumen to an instructor keen to read and engage in collaborative research. This article introduces a typology of ten martial arts scholar–practitioner types: (1) Supportive Scholar; (2) Former Practitioner; (3) Practitioner on Stand-by; (4) Immersed Apprentice; (5) Budding Scholar–Practitioner; (6) Established Scholar–Practitioner; (7) Temporary Practitioner–Researcher; (8) Experimental Leader; (9) Inquisitive Teacher; and (10) Curious Practitioner. The types are examined using Capoeira, one of the most academically studied martial arts. Drawing on the Spannungsfeld—the “field of tension” between science and practice—we reveal the specific strengths and limitations of each type while illustrating the common transition between positions across a career or research project. Finally, we consider some practical solutions to mitigate the relative weaknesses and oversights of the specific types, including the ability to form teams of scholar–practitioners from different positions in academia and martial arts. We close with suggestions for empirical research to test and refine our methodological model.





  • VoR (Version of Record)


Islas, David S. Contreras, and George Jennings. (2023) 'A Typology of Martial Arts Scholar–Practitioners: Types, Transitions, and Tensions in Capoeira', Societies 13, no. 10: 214.

Electronic ISSN


Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

George Jennings

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Qualitative Research Methods and Social Theory

Copyright Holder

  • © The Authors


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