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Wojciech Cynarski and Kazimierz Obodyński

Corporeality in Martial Arts Anthropology

The aim of this paper is to discuss the subject as well as the problem of corporeality in the anthropology of martial arts. The authors wish to begin with the concept of corporeality as it is found in the available literature on the subject. The main issues which require additional contemplation are: the anthropology of the psychophysical progress, the humanistic theory of Eastern marital arts and the sociology of fitness culture. Anthropological research on martial arts attempts to explain the place and meaning as well as the significance and value of humans practicing the various psychophysical forms of East Asian martial arts. Therefore, emphasis must be placed on the numerous varieties of martial arts and the resulting examples and cultural values found therein. Through such a perspective can corporeality's place and importance be examined. Among the classifiable models found in somatic culture, one of the most fundamental is the model of asceticism and self-fulfillment. Historically significant and still relevant is also the example of fitness, connected with treating the body as it were an instrument.

Within the context of martial arts being used as a psycho-educational form of education, the body fulfills, above all, the role of a tool to be used on the way towards enlightenment and wisdom. It is utilized specifically in spiritual progress. Improving one's physical abilities is therefore an ascetic journey of physical perfectionism and technical accomplishment all towards achieving spiritual mastery. In some cases, spiritual development is described in terms of energy (qi, ki) and connected with the capacity of one's health. Yet, the motivation for participating in martial arts more often comes from the body itself and its psychophysical health rather than moral and spiritual improvement. However, in our era of globalizing and commercializing almost all aspects of culture, some confusion can emerge from the polymorphic treatment of corporeality in martial arts as is now practiced around the world.

Open access

Wojciech J. Cynarski


Using the humanistic theory of martial arts and martial arts sociology, the author attempts to describe and explain the relationship between social stratification and martial arts. He asks whether a person’s position in the martial arts environment is, today, dependent on social background. He asks: Who could practice with weapons, and which weapons, a hundred years ago? Who can study in the ancient fencing schools today? The analysis includes martial arts in ancient Japan, Europe and Brazil as well as today. He finds that positions originally went to those in the privileged classes or social strata. Today, this does not matter. It can be concluded that there is simply a generational transmission of interest within families. Position in the martial arts, as in many other areas, is part of a person’s long-term effort to determine their own position in society, or “position developed independently”. Martial arts are part of the farreaching democratization and leveling of society. Positions inherited from father to son arise only very rarely. This mainly now happens only in the ancient ancestral schools.

Open access

Mieczysław Radochoński, Wojciech Cynarski, Lidia Perenc and Lucyna Siorek-Maślanka

Competitive Anxiety and Coping Strategies in Young Martial Arts and Track and Field Athletes

This study is an examination of the relationship between competitive anxiety and coping strategies in young athletes. Sixty karatekas and 72 track and field athletes were the subjects of the study. The age of the athletes ranged between 18 and 25 years. All had been practicing their sports for 6-8 years. The research instruments employed are the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (CSAI-2) and the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS).

Results show that martial arts athletes reported a significantly higher level of self-confidence and lower levels of cognitive and somatic anxiety compared to track and field athletes. The two groups also differed in regard to the use of coping strategies in stressful situations. For example, the karate athletes used more effective strategies such as task-oriented coping. In the next step of the study, the subjects were divided into two groups according to the level of performance (i.e. "winners" and "losers"). The "losers exhibited higher levels of anxiety, both cognitive and somatic, than "winners". They also had higher scores on less effective coping subscales, e.g. emotion-oriented and avoidance-oriented.

There is a significant interdependence between anxiety and level of performance in competitive stress situations. Future research should also consider the possible mediating role of other psychological factors, such as personality traits.

Open access

Wojciech Cynarski, Lothar Sieber, Kazimierz Obodyński, Milan Ďuriček, Paweł Król and Marian Rzepko

Factors of Development of Far Eastern Martial Arts in Central Europe

The aim of the research was to indicate the main factors of development declared by the practitioners of the different disciplines of martial arts and combat sports in selected countries of Central Europe. In particular, such variables as training location and type of martial arts/combat sports have been taken into consideration. Five research questions have been established which should be answered in order to find the solution to the posed problem.

The theoretical perspective for analyses presented here consists of sociology of sport and humanist theory of martial arts. This approach results in the need for quantitative and qualitative analysis of the answers to questions about the barriers of development according to the variables of the practiced variety (a martial art, a combat sport) and the place of training.

The method of diagnostic survey has been used. The research was conducted on a group of 500 subjects from south-eastern Poland, Slovakia, Germany and additionally (for comparison) from England, of which 489 were accepted for the study. This number includes 137 representatives of kyokushin karate from Poland, 143 Polish karatekas of non-contact varieties, 18 representatives of jujitsu and karate from Germany, 37 aikidokas from Poland (a martial art without sportive rivalry), 107 judokas from Poland and 24 judokas from Slovakia, with an additional 23 British rugby players. The selection of the group was deliberate and complete, taking into account the representatives of various martial arts and combat sports, with rugby used for comparative purposes.

Practicing martial arts oriented to self-realization, determines the motivation for their practice, which differs from the motivation in sport (combat sports). It influences the dominating choices of values-goals and popularity, thus the development of given varieties. Both martial arts and combat sports of Asian origin (aikido, judo, jujitsu, karate) attract practitioners, mainly due to their usefulness in self-defense. The values connected with training and sportive rivalry (combat sports, rugby) are also noticed. The variable of place (country) is connected with the dominating forms in promoting a given martial art or combat sport.

Open access

Wojciech J. Cynarski, Renata Grzywacz, Krzysztof Kubala, Magdalena Kunysz-Rozborska, Adam Podolski and Przemysław Pawelec


The theoretical framework for this research is the sociology of leisure and the sociology of health. Because sedentary behaviour (of employees) is a relevant new research area with important health risks, we decided to focus our attention on this subject. Moreover, sedentary behaviour in the workplace seems to be an important topic for the future.

The general aim of the research is to provide a platform for exchange on effective approaches for promoting health-enhancing physical activity among workers, to learn from experiences in different European countries and to promote the most effective approaches across Europe.

Two methods of qualitative research were used. The first was the method of expert judges. By way of direct interview, the statements of nine persons were collected, all of whom were recognised as competent judges. The second method was the analysis of the content of the literature (quality method). Using the computer program Atlas.ti, the respondents and their answers were examined.

Most of the indications (89%) concerned responses indicating physical activity. In general, the experts are quite physically active and keep a healthy (in their opinion) diet. They have both knowledge and appropriate skills in physical education. They point to the growing interest of younger academics in health and fitness, which may be associated with trends in popular culture, such as a sporty lifestyle, the cult of the body, various healthy diets and supplements, etc., that are becoming the universal fashion.

The aim of this work was to provide a platform for exchange on effective approaches to the promotion of health-enhancing physical activity among workers, to learn from experience in different European countries and to promote the most effective approaches across the region. Because the sedentary behaviour of employees is a relevant new research area with important health risks, we decided to focus our attention on this subject.