Games of Sport, Works of Art, and the Striking Beauty of Asian Martial Arts
Instructions: This worksheet is designed to be completed as you read the assigned essay. The questions will help you to focus on the key points of each section of the essay. You can either save a copy of this file and type your responses directly into it, or create a new file with the answers. Please upload a copy of your work to the dropbox. Worksheets are graded pass/fail on the basis of completion. Answers can be brief, but you should answer all questions for credit.
The purpose of this paper is to examine the nature of Asian martial arts, comparing and contrasting them with dance and sport. There are many overlapping features among these three areas, but Allen maintains that martial arts is neither art nor sport. His paper is framed among the following sections: “Difference from Sport,” “Difference from Dance,” and “Striking Beauty.”
Difference from Sport (pp. 242 – 248)
- Allen begins by noting that main common feature of martial arts, sports, and dance is athletic movement, which he defines in the bullet points of p. 243. In the remainder of the section, he considers the question of whether martial arts are sports, concluding that they aren’t. He begins on p. 243 by noting some of the essential features of sports. What are some of these important features?
- There are similarities between certain sports and fine arts performances, so he explores the question of whether sports events are fine art performances beginning near the bottom of p. 243. First, he needs to give us a definition of “art,” which he does at the top of p. 244. What makes something or an activity a work of art, according to Allen?
- He now is able to answer the question of whether sporting events are fine art performances, which he does in the middle paragraphs of p. 244. What is his conclusion and his reasons for it?
- Now Allen moves on to discuss martial arts specifically, and the ways in which differs from sport. This discussion begins the 2nd half of p. 245. He couches the discussion in terms of the confusing concept of “the expressive intentionality of movement.” What he means by “intentionality” is, what is the intention of the movement? Is it to create beauty? Is it to score points? Is it to injure another human being? How, according to Allen, are martial arts different from sports and art on this point?
- An interesting paradox of martial arts is that while it has a violent intention, it does not have a violent purpose. He says “Violent intentionality is essential to martial arts movements, but a violent purpose is repugnant to martial arts practice.” He is contrasting traditional Asian martial arts from the newer forms of Mixed Martial arts and Ultimate Fighting, or the sport of boxing. What does he mean when he says that martial arts have a violent intention, but not a violent purpose?
Difference from Dance (pp. 248 – 249)
- Now Allen turns to the question of how martial arts differs from dance. What are some similarities? What are some important differences that Allen points out? (By the way, the bullet points on the end of p. 249 give a nice overview of his main points so far.)
Striking Beauty (pp. 250 – 252)
- Those who have observed skilled martial arts in practice are often struck by the beauty of the movements. But, Allen says, the beauty of martial arts practice is different than the beauty of dance. What is it that makes martial arts movement beautiful? How does this differ from the beauty of dance movement?