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Within the sociology of sport and its related disciplines, martial arts have become increasingly popular sites for research on embodiment, gender and society. While much previous work in this area has focused upon the embodied experiences of either male or female practitioners, relatively few studies have directly addressed the social significance of mixed-sex practice. In this empirically-focused paper, we draw on qualitative, semistructured interviews with both male and female long-term exponents of various different martial arts disciplines in England, exploring experiences of intersex touch within training. Within a social-constructionist, feminist framework, we suggest that heteronormative, patriarchal and paternalistic gender structures can potentially be challenged through sustained mixed-sex practice. As such, this article contributes to work on transformative sporting bodies, martial arts and gender subversion.
Channon is with the Department of Secondary Education, University of Greenwich, London, UK. Jennings is with the Universidad YMCA, Mexico City, Mexico.