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Metamorphoses of Martial Arts: Meditations on Motivations and Motive Forces during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Author:

Paul Bowman

Cardiff University, GB
About Paul

Paul Bowman is Professor of Cultural Studies at Cardiff University and co-editor of the journal Martial Arts Studies. His most recent book is The Invention of Martial Arts: Popular Culture Between Asia and America, published by Oxford University Press in December 2020.

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Abstract

In Ovid’s Metamorphosis, change takes place at the whim of the gods, albeit often for clear reasons and with clear allegorical or didactic meanings. In Kafka’s Metamorphosis, however, change is inscrutable, unfathomable, irresolvable, and simply something to be borne. The speculation animating the following reflection is that the global pandemic of 2020 induced a metamorphosis in the lifeworlds of martial artists, the psychological and emotional effects of which have been severe from the start, while the pragmatic consequences and implications for the near to mid-term future remain unclear. The future form, content, and cultural status of the entity ‘martial arts’ all remain uncertain. Future studies will undoubtedly map the changed terrain. But for now, in the midst of the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, what follows is a personal and theoretical reflection, written at a time and from a position in which there are more questions than answers. This reflection seeks to capture something of the structure of feeling of this situation and to reflect on its potential consequences for ‘martial arts’ and ‘martial artists’, as viewed from one (g)local position and perspective.

How to Cite: Bowman, P., 2020. Metamorphoses of Martial Arts: Meditations on Motivations and Motive Forces during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Martial Arts Studies, (10), pp.128–140. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/mas.119
Published on 17 Nov 2020.
Peer Reviewed

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