Parkes, R. J. (2009). Discipline and the dojo. Paper presented in the ‘Complicating understandings of discipline’ symposium at the annual conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE), Canberra (ACT),
November 29 – December 3.
“You must be very disciplined?” is a question I’ve been asked many times, almost the instant after I’ve revealed my twenty years of involvement in the martial arts. It rehearses a popular perception of the martial arts, and is frequently the motivation of many a parent who has brought their child to a dojo in order to “become more disciplined”. This paper is concerned with the productive nature of discipline. That is, with what discipline produces. I use the martial arts as a case study to explore theoretically and empirically Foucault’s (1977; 1982/1994) claim regarding the productive nature of power and discipline, particularly because it so frequently is depicted as a site of ‘serious’ discipline. Informed by the later Foucault, I explore both the constraining and enabling effects of discipline as it manifests in and through the martial arts; and consequently I investigate the way discipline is central to the act of becoming in the dojo. This is not performed in some celebration of martial arts. Rather, I am interested in using the martial arts as a case study to understand the complex ways in which discipline, desire, and power circulate and interact to produce particular kinds of subjects. That is to say, I will argue that there is not one set of ‘disciplinary’ practices (Foucault, 1977) that is constraining, and another set that is enabling. Instead, I hope to make the case that all disciplinary constraints are precisely enabling forces that operate on and through the individual martial artist as a means of self-formation; and that participation in a disciplinary regime or process results in the ‘production’ of a particular kind of person, individual, or martial artist.
Parkes, R. J. (2010). Discipline and the dojo. In Z. Millei, T. G. Griffiths, and R. J. Parkes (Eds.), Re-theorizing discipline in education: Problems, politics and possibilities (pp. 76-90). New York: Peter Lang.
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