"We could perform much better if we had specific training for girls" : impacts of the embodiment of tradition for elite-level karateka women

Turelli, Fabiana and Kirk, David and Fernandez Vaz, Alexandre (2024) "We could perform much better if we had specific training for girls" : impacts of the embodiment of tradition for elite-level karateka women. Retos, 55. pp. 47-56. ISSN 1988-2041 (https://doi.org/10.47197/retos.v55.102364)

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Despite several struggles to achieve equality in society, a fight embraced first and foremost by feminist movements, women remain being seen, addressed, and treated as other in sport. Women who practice martial arts and combat sports to some extent disrupt the normative social and sportive order. But to be able to remain in environments where their presence is challenging, they are also challenged in their disruptive acting. They end up embodying the internal dynamics of dojos, adapting to and often reproducing the traditional teachings that discipline practitioners. It is not enough to became equal. Some athletes who can be reflexive and critical of their experiences may start a movement of raising their voices to advocate for equity instead of, in preparation to attend the unique, to date, Olympic Games that karate was included into, Tokyo 2020 (2021), seeking to understand how they were subjectively dealing with overlapping issues that compose karate. In this paper, we focus on the gendered embodiment that women high-level athletes make of the so-called tradition in their practice of karate and how they reproduce or oppose to such tradition. Their possible resistance is configured as a claim for transformation of the environment through equity and respect for their own fighters’ and personal features, however, the process is challenging. They may reproduce and continue the stream of tradition; face personal confusion in trying to understand the contradictions of resisting domination and just remain in the team or as karateka; they still can be challenged by being named traitors and be conflicted with feminist positionalities; and yet some seem to start a movement of new internal disruption, making it loud that women are ignored, and posing a claim for more women in sport, showing that change has not been achieved enough