Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology

Abstract - A way to mastery. Mastery in martial arts

The aim is to describe the route to mastery in martial arts and attempts to identify patterns. What is the average time taken to achieve first master degree, to achieve the highest technical degree, and to achieve the highest rank of master (10 dan)? Background. Theories of sports training, the humanistic theory of martial arts and the anthropology of martial arts give us a scientific perspective for the research. Particularly relevant here are the concepts of “long-term athlete development”, “the highest technical degree” and “budō ontogenesis”.
Material and method. Material for the study was obtained from sports CVs and by analysing the route taken to mastery by selected outstanding practitioners of martial arts (Instructors, Masters) and combat sports (Olympic athletes and champions). To develop a longitudinal study (for the years 1998-2014) a diagnostic survey questionnaire technique (N = 285) was included, but some of the data was collected by analysing the contents of various written sources (literature and documents, published interviews) and online (monitoring sites). The ANOVA test was used (Fisher-Snedecor test of variance) and counted the average results for each level of mastery.
Results and conclusions. It was found that the average time taken to achieve first master degree is about 10 years with regular training. Mastering the entire curriculum of the school / style of a martial art usually requires about 30 years’ training. After this time, some masters set up their own, separate schools, or create their own styles. However in order to achieve confirmed mastery at 10th dan one needs to practise a particular martial art for between 30 and 70 years.