Teaching and learning in a Japanese koryA« dAjA: A classical Japanese martial art as a community of practice

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Anna Seabourne

Abstract

This research is about teaching and learning in the classical Japanese martial art of Takenouchi-ryA« BitchA«den and what it means to be a participant in a traditional dAjA in Japan. There is a lack of research which foregrounds the practices at the level of the martial arts dAjA in contemporary Japan, and in particular of the koryA« bujutsu (classical martial arts). Previous research has documented their history and the modern forms of budA which developed from their traditions, but not how teaching and learning function in the koryA« of today. The purpose of the research was to explore what a koryA« offers contemporary practitioners and the way that transmission is structured, ordered, controlled and facilitated. Through developing a thick description of the life of the dAjA and its members, this research aims to show how the dAjA works as a community of practice with members mutually engaged in the joint enterprise of teaching and learning. Using community of practice theory as a lens to examine how learning, teaching, and progression through the ryA«ha are presented, the research took an ethnographic approach to gathering data through participant observation at the main dAjA in Kyoto, related dAjA in Okayama and Tokyo and events such as public demonstrations. Data was gathered on three visits for fieldwork between 2012-2014. This was supplemented by twenty-one semi-structured interviews of members of the ryA«ha; researching the views of selected long-term participants in other koryA« using a survey tool; as well as supplementary data in the form of documents, videos, and postings on social media. The research found that although there is a paradigmatic trajectory, which moves from being a paying student to a role based on contribution through teaching, a variety of forms of engagement exist within the community of practice. This reveals a complexity beyond the senpai-kAhai hierarchy often reported in Japanese educational organisations. As with other iemoto-like systems, authority and secrecy continue to play a role in how the koryA« are structured, but also in the way in which knowledge is transmitted. The research suggests that teaching and learning extends beyond the formal curriculum; has both explicit and tacit elements; and can be categorised as four types: kihon (basics), kata (paired pattern practice), kuden (oral teachings) and enbu (demonstrations). These findings are important because they deepen understandings of what engagement in this kind of traditional Japanese practice entails; how teaching and learning opportunities are constructed within the community of practice of the dAjA; and why long-term practitioners see it as an integral aspect of their lives, an important source of well-being, and intrinsic to how they deal with the challenges of life in contemporary Japan. [Italics not shown here are preserved in the original abstract in full text.]

Details

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date31 Dec 2017