Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology

Abstract - Asian Martial Arts in the European and American reception

Making use of terminological instruments of the humanistic theory of Far-Eastern martial arts the authors analyze the phenomenon of reception of Asian martial arts in the West – particularly in Germany, Poland and the USA. This work shows the selected output of the researchers under­taking the humanistic reflection with reference to the phenomenon of martial arts. There were presented general tendencies of changes occurring in martial arts practiced in the West and there were discussed detailed differences between American and middle-European perceptions. In the article there was indicated also the output of ‘budō pedagogy’ and intercultural, intercontinental borrowings of budō leaders.
The German research on the phenomenon of Far-Eastern martial arts most often is of decid­edly practical realization character by adopting the pedagogical perspective. In this way the works enter the discourse of subjectivity of man in sport, the reflection on pedagogy of physical culture, physical and social-moral education. There also appear, rather seldom though, stricte sociological analyses. The Polish research shows little more holistic spectrum.
In the American edition “the sociology of martial arts” is quite inconspicuously represented by an only specialist. His analyses are interesting, showing the connection of local perception of martial arts with the archetypes and myths of the popular culture of this country. Unfortunately, Americans hardly refer to the output of European researchers.
By and large, typical of the Western adaptations of Asian martial arts are: institutional bor­rowings (of patterns of behavior) and terminological borrowings, tendencies towards commer­cialization and developing sporting activities (the essential change into combat sports and recrea­tion forms) and attempts of modifications of Asian archetypes according to current needs of sport culture. There is also an opposite tendency – the development of new systems (as idō, zendō ka­rate) rejecting sport competition and cultivation of the original classical forms for the ethos ‘way’ of personal development and self-realization alone.