Social Stratification in Japanese and Some Other Martial Arts: A Comparison and Discussion of Changes

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Abstract

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.

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