Greetings! I am currently traveling for some fieldwork on duanbing (short weapons training). As someone who spends a lot of time researching the Republic era Chinese martial arts, I am excited to finally have a chance to learn more about this discipline. In the mean time, here is an article by Veronika Partikova, an up and coming graduate student in Hong Kong, which was published in the latest issue of Martial Arts Studies. Its a great piece that, while explicitly discussing Chinese communities, should be applicable to any number of traditional martial arts.
This paper offers a new perspective for viewing traditional martial arts in terms of psychology. It argues that ‘traditional’ martial arts offer physical skills, moral codes, rituals, roles, and hierarchical relationships which, taken together, creates the perfect environment for psychological collectivism . Psychological collectivism focuses on individuals and their abilities to accept the norms of an in-group, understand hierarchy, and feel interdependence or the common faith of the group. First, this paper introduces the theory of psychological collectivism and connects it with traditional martial arts known as wushu or kung fu. It argues that traditional Asian martial arts create situations strong enough to activate collectivistic attributes of self and suggests that practitioners’ mind-sets can be different within and outside of the training environment. This kind of collectivistic interaction may provide one explanation for how non-Asian practitioners function in such training environments and how the traditional Asian martial arts can work as psychosocial therapies.