I’ve been accepted on the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Summer Program as a guest researcher under Professor Kimio Ito in the Sociology Department of Kyoto University. Here’s an abstract for the poster presentation which I gave on 15 June, outlining my plans.

Forging the spirit: How training in a koryû bujutsu affects
practitioners’ lives

The term koryû bujutsu literally translates as ‘old stream martial arts’ and refers to classical traditions founded before 1868. Literature on martial arts includes popular manuals; studies of samurai writings; historical studies; modern writings on techniques and philosophy; catalogues of extant koryû; and ethnographies of modern arts; but not of koryû. My research explores how the koryû contribute to discourses on selfhood, identity and masculinity through investigating participants’ motivations for entering a koryû; how they view their practice; and how membership relates to their identity outside training. The study takes an ethnographic approach, gathering data through participant observation, interviews and examining practitioners’ writings.

This poster introduces a framework of distinctive koryû characteristics, providing the starting point for research in Kyoto where I will observe regular training in a koryû and two events in the tradition’s calendar. On July 16th, members of the dojo perform kata (forms) as part of the Enmamôde ceremonies at Byakugô Temple, Nara. In August, the festival commemorating the tradition’s founding includes members from other parts of Japan. I aim to record a rich description of both events which will provide a starting point for developing more detailed interview questions in the future.

Here’s the poster, click on it to see a larger version: