Mixed martial arts (MMA) is an emergent sport where competitors in a ring or cage utilize strikes (punches, kicks, elbows and knees) as well as submission techniques to defeat opponents. This book explores the carnal experience of fighting through a sensory ethnography of MMA, and how it transgresses the cultural scripts of masculinity in popular culture. Based on four years of participant observation in a local MMA club and in-depth interviews with amateur and professional MMA fighters, Spencer documents fighters' training regimes and the meanings they attach to participation in the sport. Drawing from the philosophical phenomenology of Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jean-Luc Nancy, this book develops bodies-centered ontological and epistemological grounding for this study. Guided by such a position, it places bodies at the center of analysis of MMA and elucidates the embodied experience of pain and injury, and the sense and rhythms of fighting.
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Dale C. Spencer is a Banting postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta. His interests include embodiment, emotions, violence and victimization. He has published in such journals as Body and Society, Punishment and Society and Criminal Law and Philosophy. He is co-editor of Emotions Matter: A Relational Approach to Emotions (University of Toronto Press, 2011) and co-author of Reimagining Intervention in Young Lives (University of British Columbia Press.Review:
"Ultimate Fighting and Embodiment contributes new knowledge to not only the study of Mixed Martial Arts and combat sport, but also to studies of violence, emotion and embodiment in sport. The book is most likely written for a sociological audience and in my opinion, it is also best suited for sport sociologists. Some readers and mixed martial arts enthusiasts might find this book overly theoretic. However, scholars with a sociological background will surely appreciate Spencer’s theoretical analyses... provides the reader with a unique sociological analysis of mixed martial arts, emotions, masculinity and embodiment in sport. It’s a good read for scholars (in particular sociologists) interested in sensory ethnography and studies of combat sports!"
Anne Tjønndal, Nord University
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