Scholars have noted the increase in “Eastern movement forms” (e.g., non-sporting martial arts, yoga, meditation, and Tai Chi), which have been penetrating into social-cultural spaces and institutions outside their native contexts. The practice halls and studios where such movement forms are trained are intercorporeal communicative spaces where practitioners are not only grappling with the specificity of movements, but enmeshed in an assemblage of moving bodies and cultural resources. By plunging into the practice of aikido, a martial art style originating from Japan, this study explores how practitioners in the United States understand their martial art practice through their bodies. Three themes emerged: practicing, ki, and mastering. Listening to the voices of martial art bodies revealed that skillfulness is a ceaseless endeavor that uses movement to draw new relationalities between one's own corporeal assemblage and those of others rather than the internationalization of movement techniques. In the case of aikido practice, the on-site learning and practice open the way for new relationship-making across multiple lines of difference, suggesting cultural appropriation as a transformational process that exceeds the simple use and borrowing of cultural elements.
- © 2012 Left Coast Press, Inc. All rights reserved.