Framing Spirituality in Martial Arts: an Embodied Comprehension Through Phenomenology
Thabata C.B. Telles
University of São Paulo, BR
Thabata Telles is a postdoctoral researcher in Physical Education and Sport at the University of São Paulo (EEFERP) and the University of Paris (I3SP). She is a psychologist (MSc and PhD in Psychology) and her main research consists of exploring martial arts and combat sports through a phenomenological approach, with particular interest in embodiment and perception-action processes. She is currently the vice-president of the Brazilian Association of Sports Psychology (ABRAPESP).
This study aims to frame the notion of spirituality in martial arts through a phenomenological perspective as a philosophical and a methodological point of view. It considers martial arts as embodied experiences based on pre-reflexive acts in fighting processes. In these practices, the body constantly moves and there is not much time for the practitioner to reflect before choosing and executing each technique. Thus, it is a reflection on unreflected action, linked to an understanding of spirituality based in phenomenology. As discussed by Merleau-Ponty, a movement is not only related to what we think about the world, but also to what we can do in it. This involves not only perceiving the object, but also a specific situation and how to be able to do something in a certain time and space. This phenomenological understanding suggests that a movement is never randomly executed: we do something, always engaged in a specific situation. Through this perspective, when framing spirituality in martial arts, we highlight the relationship between subject and things considered meaningful to enable or enhance such practices. This sort of experience (spirituality in martial arts) consists of an act of which one may not be consciously aware.