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Variation in Cultural Consensus Between Expert and Novice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Athletes

Authors:

Karl Bennett ,

University of Alabama, US
About Karl

Karl Bennett received his M.A. in anthropology from the University of Alabama in 2018, and this article is based on his thesis research. He is currently a practicing anthropologist in San Jose, CA.

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William W. Dressler

University of Alabama, US
About William

William W. Dressler is an independent scholar and Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Alabama and has conducted research on culture and health in Brazil.

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Abstract

The practice of martial arts for leisure and exercise is growing rapidly in the United States. In this study, we utilize mixed methods and cultural consensus analysis to examine a cultural model of strategy among Brazilian jiu jitsu athletes in a gym in Atlanta, Georgia, and to explore how that cultural knowledge varies within consensus. This study builds upon previous research in martial arts studies by employing cultural domain analysis and ethnographic research to quantify and link culture to embodied knowledge through a cultural model of strategy. Results show that strategy in Brazilian jiu jitsu revolves around the hierarchy of positional dominance. Low level belt-ranked novice athletes utilize shared understandings of positional dominance to guide their personal strategic selection of techniques, which they habitually practice to the point of embodied reflexivity. High belt-ranked expert athletes eventually reach a level of expertise at which relying exclusively on the cultural model of strategy impedes their performance in competition. These expert athletes develop a personal model of strategic fluidity within the context of the cultural model of strategy which focuses on adaptation to specific opponents and circumstances.

How to Cite: Bennett, K. and Dressler, W.W., 2020. Variation in Cultural Consensus Between Expert and Novice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Athletes. Martial Arts Studies, (9), pp.43–53. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/mas.99
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Published on 23 Mar 2020.
Peer Reviewed

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