Scientific article
Open access

Process of Institualization in Chinese Martial Arts: The case of its ranking system

ContributorsPorchet, Pierrick
Published inReliǵiski-filozofiski raksti, vol. 2, p. 82-92
Publication date2019

Within its cultural policy, the People's Republic of China formulated a discourse on “popular practices” (minjian fengsu) which has lead to their regulation and standardization into politically correct forms. In the case of martial arts - designated by the generic term wushu in Mandarin - sport institutions have created and promoted sport oriented practices since 1958. In these new disciplines, knowledge is no longer legitimized by the individual figure of the “master” but instead by national standards and regulations. Through this process, Chinese institutions are reclaiming meanings over the popular practice resulting in many structural and ideological changes. This development raises the question of the impact on practitioners' habits and the way they articulate these new representations. This paper will discuss institutionalization process in Chinese Martial Arts by focusing on some aspects of its “ranking system“ (duanwei zhi). This system introduces new criteria of expertise under the supervision of state institutions. Practitioners are thus no longer evaluated by their peers but instead by outside experts. When confronted to the grading system's new elements, oppositional views appear in masters' discourses in regard of body technics and their associated meanings. This paper will discuss some of the ideological issues raised by the juxtaposition of the institutional ranking system with the traditional framework. It will highlight how different social actors compete over the meanings and values associated with Chinese Martial Arts and how this process is happening in the materiality of body gestures performed in these arts.

  • China
  • Martial arts
  • Institutionalization
  • Folk practice
  • Sport
Citation (ISO format)
PORCHET, Pierrick. Process of Institualization in Chinese Martial Arts: The case of its ranking system. In: Reliǵiski-filozofiski raksti, 2019, vol. 2, p. 82–92.
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Article (Published version)
  • PID : unige:129943
ISSN of the journal1407-1908

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