Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology

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Abstract - Martial Arts in Postcolonial Times Local Theories for Local Contexts

Background. Up to now, the social organisation and practise of the world’s fighting systems has been understood through established and popular trends in sociological theory developed primarily in Western Europe and North America.
Problem and aim. As an alternative, researchers can turn to theories local to the culture in question, in order to understand its people on their own terms, as these theories are written largely for and by them in their own language.
Method. The authors employed local theory in their analysis of two martial arts associations that focus on the cultivation of national warrior identities. Based on long-standing case studies on Japanese Budo institutions in Poland and Xilam in its native Mexico, they demonstrate how local social theories can assist the understanding of belonging, embodiment, identity and nationalism in postcolonial times.
Results. A local warrior identity was identified in both Polish Budo and Mexican Xilam martial arts organisations. The local social theories enabled the authors to examine these identities in terms of postcolonial identity formation in relation to the nations in question.
Conclusions. Martial arts researchers should employ local theories as well as the more popular canon from social scientific disciplines. Local theories enable detailed appreciation of the history, culture and politics of the country where a martial art has been developed or is being practised and transmitted.