Touch, martial arts, and embodied knowledge


  • Scott Habkirk Phd Candidate, University of Alberta



Touch is essential to normal human development. It communicates a wide variety of things depending on the culture and the context. Through touch the boundary between subject and object becomes blurred and empathy can be cultivated. In the context of martial arts, touch can paradoxically lower levels of aggression,
particularly in a traditional setting. This paper explores how touch is managed in martial arts and the embodied experiences that it can cultivate. Positivistic methodologies have revealed some of the benefits of martial arts on both physical and mental health, and studies that take a quantitative and culturally sensitive approach are revealing other dimensions of bodily experience.