Archives for posts with tag: poster

This is a poster I put together for the ‘What does it mean to do a PhD today?‘ interdisciplinary conference at the University of Manchester, held on Monday 2 December, 2013.

The spiral represents how all members of the system experience the same elements of the curriculum repeatedly at different points in their journey. I have also included some of the ideas and opinions on learning taken from recent interviews carried out during fieldwork in Japan. I think there are elements of learning a koryū which have parallels in the PhD process and I want to explore this further. A deeper understanding of what it means to engage in an intense learning process within a small group and how this can be facilitated are possibly going to be the most transferable outcomes of my research.

Poster presentation: What does it mean to do a 'koryū' today?


Here’s the abstract and poster I presented at the Japan in our Futures one day conference in Sheffield on 5 April, 2013.

Lessons in survival: The community of practice in a Japanese martial art

The classical Japanese martial tradition of Takeuchi-ryu Bitchuden Kobudo has an unbroken line of transmission dating from 1532 and as such could be seen to be a master of survival. Rooted in the past, yet located firmly in the present where it thrives through its role in the lives of its members, like any traditional pursuit it faces challenges if it is to continue into the future.

Using the theoretical framework of Communities of Practice, this poster examines how the group’s approach to teaching and learning enables the communication of an established body of knowledge, yet is flexible enough to deal with challenges such as lifestyle changes, economic fluctuations and the increasing involvement of non-Japanese practitioners. The research takes an ethnographic approach, analysing data gained through participant observation at the main dôjô in Kyoto. What practitioners learn from their experiences; the impact it has on their lives, identities and conceptions of self; and how traditional martial arts relate to contemporary life and education in Japan are the subject of my work.

This poster focuses on providing insights into how and why the group endures, which may have lessons for ways in which other groups could ensure their own sustainability into the future.


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: