Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology and Research

Major Professor

Ralph G. Brockett

Committee Members

Joel F. Diambra, Lars Dzikus, Lauren A. R. Moret


Western perspectives of learning often marginalize other-ways-of-knowing. A need to further understand other-ways-of-knowing, in particular non-Western perspectives, is a growing concern of the adult and continuing education field. Prior research supports the martial arts as a non-Western and other-way-of-knowing. However, the adult and continuing education field have underutilized the martial arts in research. The purpose of this narrative study was to explore adult learners’ lived experiences of learning and practicing martial arts in the southeastern United States of America. The two research questions that guided this study were “What experience(s) led adult learners to practice martial arts?” and “What are adult learners lived experience(s) of learning and practicing the martial arts.”Due to a perceived lack of any existing theoretical frameworks’ ability to capture the holistic nature of the participants’ experiences, a new theoretical framework was created for this study. This unique framework draws upon three established paradigms for support: (a) Social Constructivism, (b) Embodiment/Embodied Learning, and (c) Narrative Knowing. Each paradigm was selected for the importance it places on the role of experience within the meaning making process. The theoretical framework was specifically designed to honor the participants’ experiences of other-ways-of-knowing.Having established a theoretical framework, narrative inquiry was selected as the methodology to best answer the research questions. Using narrative inquiry methods, nine participants were interviewed for this study. These interviews ranged from an hour to an hour and a half in length and were transcribed verbatim by the researcher. These transcripts were then analyzed utilizing a six-phase analysis process.This analysis process uncovered four themes that were present in each participants’ narratives: (a) Change, (b) Interaction, (c) Embodiment, and (d) Way of Life. The findings from this study support previous martial arts research and lay the foundation for future research into the martial arts, other-ways-of-knowing, and embodiment. This study also has implications for martial artists and practitioners of somatic and embodied practices. The experiences of the participants echo my own experience with the martial arts and illustrate the importance of continuing this line of inquiry.

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