Greetings! If all has gone according to plan I am now back in the United States, recovering from jet lag, reviewing my notes from the conference and preparing a report on the events of the last week to share with all of the readers of Kung Fu Tea. In the mean time, please enjoy this article on the (re)invention of a Mesoamerican martial arts tradition by George Jennings. It is a valuable reminder that the martial arts are a global, rather than simply an Asian, phenomenon and have been employed in the construction and maintenance of many identities in the modern era.
Follow the link to read: “Ancient Wisdom Modern Warriors: The (Re)Invention of a Mesoamerican Tradition in Xilam by George Jennings.”
Xilam is a modern Mexican martial art that is inspired by pre-Hispanic warrior cultures of ancient Mesoamerica, namely the Aztecs (Mexica), Maya and Zapotec cultures. It provides a noteworthy case study of a Latin American fighting system that has been recently invented, but aspires to rescue, rediscover and relive the warrior philosophies that existed before the Spanish Conquest and subsequent movements beginning in 1521. Using the thought-provoking work of anthropologist Guillermo Bonfil Batalla, México Profundo, I aim to analyse the Xilam Martial Arts Association through the way that they represent themselves in their three main media outlets: the official webpage, the Facebook group and the YouTube channel. Overall, the data suggests that certain elements of Mesoamerican civilisation may be transmitted to young Mexicans through a mind-body discipline, which in turn acts as a form of physical (re)education. Overall, xilam is both an invented tradition (in a technical sense) and a re-invented tradition (in a cultural sense) that provides lessons on the timeless issues of transformation, transmission and transcendence.
About the Author
George Jennings is a qualitative sociologist interested in traditionalist physical cultures. His previous work has examined the traditionalist Chinese martial arts such as Wing Chun and Taijiquan, and he is currently investigating the dynamic relationships between martial arts, health and society. He is a researcher and editor at the Universidad YMCA, Mexico, and an associate researcher at the Health Advancement Research Team, University of Lincoln, UK.