Ongoing Change in the Rhythms of Mixed Martial Arts Practice

By Stanley Blue.

Published by The Sport Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper draws on social ‘theories of practice’ in re-thinking the relationship between social practice and social change. Fundamentally, I emphasise an understanding of practice as both becoming and situated within the constantly changing rhythms of everyday life. I begin by asking how do we draw the boundaries of, label and fix ‘a practice’ as an entity and what are the consequences for considering the relationship between practice and change? With this question in mind, I explore the experiences of people engaged in the changing rhythms of, what is today commonly referred to as the fastest growing sport in the world, Mixed Martial Arts. This case demonstrates, by way of adaptation to changing fighting styles and training methods, a knowledge-in-practice of continual change and adaptation that fosters strong rhythms of routine commitment and participation. Therefore, rather than considering practice as a provisionally stable entity and change as something that is external to practice, discussion of the constantly changing rhythms of Mixed Martial Arts leads me to argue for an understanding of practice as temporally and spatially situated, as always becoming and as fundamentally ongoing change. This discussion not only adds to and builds on a theoretical literature of practice; but is also particularly relevant for an analysis of rhythms of sporting practice, for which routines of commitment and participation are particularly important. Thus I build on and develop discussions regarding the relationship between social action and social change.

Keywords: Practice, Rhythms, Change, Mixed Martial Arts, Routine, Change

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.161-170. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 382.213KB).

Stanley Blue

PhD Student, Sociology Department, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK

Stanley Blue is completing his PhD at Lancaster University and is currently lecturing in the Sociology Department at the University of Manchester, teaching courses on consumption and research methods and design. His research develops 'theories of practice' towards informing policy and guidance on issues of public health and well being. His research interests include: practice, rhythmanalysis, materiality, embodiment, spatio-temporality and social change.