My work uses ethnographic methods to research the traditional Japanese martial art of Takeuchi-ryu Bitchuden, exploring it as a form of education and character development. What practitioners learn from their experiences in the dojo; the impact it has on their lives, their conceptions of self, issues of gender and group and individual identity; and how the classical martial traditions relate to contemporary life and education in Japan are the proposed research areas.  The study aims to contribute to research on the martial arts; the anthropology of Japanese cultural and leisure pursuits; and pedagogical approaches to self-development. Situating this study of a particular dojo within existing research, my initial aims are to explore:

  • What a koryu offers participants in comparison to modern martial arts and other leisure activities; how this is reflected in martial arts’ role in contemporary Japanese culture;
  • How ethnographic approaches to researching koryu can contribute to discourses on selfhood, identity and masculinity;
  • How the pedagogy in TRB relates to that of other educational contexts, both formal and outside academic institutions.