'You must hit your mother!': 'doing family' and 'doing gender' in karate practice

Research output: Contribution to conferencePresentation


Both sport and the family have been sociologically reflected on as key institutions in reproducing ideas of male dominance and of men's (hierarchical) distinction from women (Burnstyn, 2004; Connell,1990;2011; Jamieson, 1998; Morgan, 1985). Indeed they are deemed to be highly gendered spheres with distinct roles for women and men within. Karate is a sport often associated with men and masculinity due to its combative nature, however, in practice it is an arena where women, men, and families often train together. Through it's mixed sex, and often mixed-aged practice, the conventional power dynamics embodied between family members are shaken as mother's correct their partners techniques, daughters out-punch their brothers, and children are asked to hit their parents. As such, in the close-spaced, fast paced, sweaty body-to-body exchanges of kicks, punches, and throws, karate practice asks families participating in karate together to simultaneously negotiate 'doing family' and 'doing gender'.

This paper draws on the tensions and challenges posed to conventional gendered ways of doing family during karate practice, and points towards the ways in which coventional ideas of the family both structure karate practice, and karate becomes a family practice which disrupts conventional power relations held between family members.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference 2018: Identity, Community and Social Solidarity - Northumbria University, Newcastle , United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Apr 201812 Apr 2018


ConferenceBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference 2018
Abbreviated titleBSA Annual Conference 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Family
  • Gender
  • Karate


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