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date: 20 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the divergent functions of the live martial arts practice of sparring, as combative activity, as competition, as play, and as intersubjective exchange. In this process, the chapter examines the multiple connotations of competition within the overlapping spheres of game and sport. Central to this inquiry are the differences between competitive pleasure and competitive spectacle. In line with sports sociologists and historians, this chapter maintains that sport emphasizes competitive spectacle and hinges on outcome—winning or losing—rather than highlighting the pleasure of competition, suggesting that attention to physical, contestatory, and exploratory interactions between people may offset a societal overemphasis on winning. An intentional reclaiming of amateurism, with its attention to experimentation, can also play a role, as can a reconsideration of the significance of failure.

Keywords: martial arts, competition, sparring, intersubjectivity, sports, game, play, work, amateurism

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