Physical Education Futures and martial arts

Alongside the open EdFutures , have been reading Physical Education Futures. It appears that especially in more developed economies people are taking increased interest in both health and leisure practices for friends, families, work colleagues, as well as for themselves (not just golf !). They are finding psychological and physiological benefits. In less developed economies where access to the internet is available, there are opportunities to connect to many different people and ideas in both. Participation e.g. in the UK is being monitored and supported by organisations such as Sports England.

Physical Education Futures evaluates the history and practice of physical education and the influences of dominant pedagogical ideas of those times. With a suggested approach being the possibility of the idea of the idea of physical education as an organising principle for making sense of what currently happens and how it is defined and described by others – the form or concepts and their context. One of the conflicts outlined was increased exposure from concepts developed by physical and sport scientists as opposed to practical teaching of motor and game techniques or skills forming part of the ‘package’. (1)

Wondering where physical education fits with education (if at all?) is it something that should be completed within a school for example, or can it be completed in alternative environments such as leisure centres, clubs, fields – how do we learn to improve ourselves physically is it something that should be done offline, outside of a classroom, without reading and writing – will this make it easier, better for a human to learn?

Have tried to explore this with every martial arts post I have written on this blog, every other martial artists’ blogposts I have read or commented on, videos that have been reviewed, shared, discussed with people of varying levels of experience. It doesn’t feel like an individual experience – ever – whether offline or online, even though it is personal development. I feel continually connected to thousands of years of physical movement and ideas as well as our more recent ones online. I wonder if its the same for other areas of physical education too.

It reminds me of the split in taekwondo between ITF and WTF where ITF has been described as having a more traditional focus on form and WTF more focus on sparring – sporting aspects:

“ITF started concentrating on the forms developed by General Choi, while the KTA (which later, on May 28, 1973, became the WTF) concentrated on the Palgwe’s. Later the WTF abandoned the Palgwe’s and started concentrating on Taeguks. Slowly, the WTF emphasis turned to sparring. This is also the reason why a lot of people rather call (WTF) Taekwondo a martial sport than a Martial Art…
…ITF practices the so-called ‘semi-contact’ part of Taekwondo, while WTF practices the so-called ‘full-contact’ part. ITF focuses more on the traditional way of taekwondo. Since the break-up, there have been many attempts to reunite WTF and ITF, so-far without success.” (2)

The Sports Development Council are promoting martial arts within schools -my taekwondo instructor already runs sessions in local schools but it is likely to be available to everyone for one hour a week from September – subject to ongoing discussion with Surrey school and the SDC. It is likely that there will be opportunities to enrol with local clubs near the school if wanted as well. Should this also be the Arts Development Council – will a focus from sports funding affect how martial arts is learnt if in a school physical education setting?

In relation to open education futures, there is also the influences of technology on physical education – how do we use technology – should we be using  it to improve our understanding of our physiology, our motor co-ordination, game strategy ? Can it enhance or replace anything currently offered. Technologies in sport often are improvements to – “hardware” – footballs, racquets etc Sports simulations can be helpful for visualizing movements – IBM Wimbledon in Second Life being an interesting example.  Have lots of questions. Does this improve you physically though and if so what and how ? Will it be a future where it is nothing but simulations & games followed in an educational setting such as a ‘school’, or looking at uses of robotics, but actual physical activity is completed in leisure settings only, what makes sense in what contexts?

1. Kirk D (2010) Physical Education Futures, Routledge Press UK
2. Nauta B (1994-2010) ITF vs WTF, General Taekwondo Information, available at: