Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology

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Abstract - Beyond martial arts tourism: outcomes of capoeiristas’ apprenticeship pilgrimages

Background and Problem. Globalization is creating new opportunities and challenges for scholars of martial arts. As instruction in specific martial forms extends beyond the boundaries of where such forms were developed, questions may arise about practitioners’ legitimacy. Travel to the source of an art or sport is one way to address these concerns – learning under the tutelage of a local master and being accepted by local martial artists confirms the foreigner’s identity as a legitimate bearer of that tradition. This is a phenomenon called apprenticeship pilgrimage. The present article examines the practices of non-Brazilian capoeiristas who make pilgrimages to Brazil for the purpose of training with a local master.
Method. An online survey-building tool (diagnostic survey) was used. 30 individuals participated in the survey, however only 19 of them had actually traveled to Brazil. Eleven of them were males and eight were females.
Results and Conclusion. Survey results confirm that the majority of capoeira pilgrims are satisfied with their journeys and with the interactions they have with local capoeiritas; however, there is some variability in this regard based on gender. Furthermore, the relationships pilgrims form with other non-Brazilians may be just as important as those they form with local capoeiristas, suggesting that the transnational relationships formed during apprenticeship pilgrimages should be an area of study for scholars interested in the various mobilities of martial artists.