This paper addresses sex integration in martial arts and combat sports, discussing the implications of mixed-sex training for challenging orthodox Western constructions of gender. Drawing on qualitative interviews with 37 long-term martial arts practitioners from around the English East Midlands between 2007–2011, the paper argues that restrictive, essentialist and hierarchal conceptions of sex difference can be challenged through integrated training practices. The paper advocates the “undoing” of gender in this regard as helping to build a more progressive, inclusive and liberal form of physical culture, seen as a key potential of sex-integrated training. To that end, the paper makes a number of proposals for instructors and practitioners interested in developing such inclusive environments in their own clubs and training settings.
Bibliographical noteThis is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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- School of Sport and Health Sciences - Principal Lecturer
- Sport and Leisure Cultures Research and Enterprise Group