Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Transmitting health philosophies through the traditionalist Chinese martial arts in the UK

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posted on 2022-05-10, 16:40 authored by George Jennings

 The dynamic relationships between “martial arts”, society and health remain unclear, particularly due to research that typically views health in a purely biomedical and compartmentalized way. Martial arts and combat sports (MACS) offer a diversity of disciplines with their own intended training outcomes and techne. The traditionalist Chinese martial arts (TCMAs), such as Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) and Wing Chun Kung Fu, stress health promotion/preservation, personal development and lifelong practice. Adopting a structurationist framework, this article explores the connections between three distinct philosophies of health and TCMAs, institutions spreading such discourse, and the personal narratives of transformation and self-cultivation through these embodied art forms. Taking a perspective starting from the practitioners themselves, I explore the interplay between discourse and narrative as applied in everyday British society. Following detailed qualitative analysis, “Western scientific”, “contemporary Daoist” and “New Age” health philosophies are identified as explored via three detailed, reflexive cases of long-term practitioner-instructors, their schools and documents that connect them to international exponents across time. This article thus contributes to sociological knowledge on MACS and health, while considering the connections between health philosophies, discourse and narrative. 


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  • VoR (Version of Record)


Jennings, G. (2014) 'Transmitting health philosophies through the traditionalist Chinese martial arts in the UK', Societies, 4(4), doi:10.3390/soc4040712

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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


  • en

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