PhD in MA?

Discussion in 'Off Topic Area' started by Huntley, Apr 21, 2010.

  1. Huntley

    Huntley of the Gordon Clan

    The point? For ego, I believe. Outside of that it's worthless.
    Dead_pool likes this.
  2. komuso

    komuso Valued Member

    Hi all,

    it is pretty unlikely that you would recieve a PhD IN martial arts philosophy. You could certainly do one that examined a particular aspect of martial arts philosophy, or even one that looked to measure the potential impacts of such a system, but saying it is 'in martial arts philiosophy' is just way too broad to be anything other than a vague outline.

    And five years is relatively fast. Almost everyone I work with has a doctorate (I am a lecturer) and the average completion time is around 6-7 years for most of us.

    Dr Karl Friday is probably the best known English speaking martial arts academic, but his grounding is in history rather than the Martial Arts per se,


  3. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    - My SC brother Dr. Daniel (Chi-hsiu) Weng received PhD in SC from the Ohio State University.
    - The Chinese Culture University offer BA degree for CMA.
    - The Beijiing PE University also offer BA degree for CMA.

    I'm sure some university will be honored to give you a PhD degree if your PhD dissertation is, "The scientific proof that Qi ball exists".
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2010
  4. Llamageddon

    Llamageddon MAP's weird cousin Supporter

    It'd also have to show some kind of original contribution to the field and be defended by two contemporaries by viva
  5. GoshinRyu

    GoshinRyu Valued Member

    For a giggle? I had a collegue who paid £20 to become a 'Lord of Sealand' or something like that.

    We all thought it was hilarious...

    It seems not everyone has a sense of humour like me and my friends though

  6. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    I wouldn't hire a PhD in martial arts philosophy to teach martial arts. Or to teach philosophy. I sincerely doubt that most people would.
  7. holyheadjch

    holyheadjch Valued Member

    I see no reason why you couldn't undertake a PhD in MA Philosophy (whatever that is, exactly) - all you'd have to do is find an academic willing to supervise it and a panel of academics to consider the thesis.
    I think there are a few people in this conversation who dont know what a PhD is or what it entails.

    The question of why you would want to perform such research is a much more interesting question to me.
  8. 47MartialMan

    47MartialMan Valued Member

    What? Under qualifying people teach martial arts all of the time. When they get paid by students, they are hired.

    The firm I am employed recently hired a person just because of their PhD, which has no relation to the job whatsoever.
  9. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    Not sure I understand what you're saying here.

    And you're offering that as a counterargument? Doesn't that seem kinda screwed up to you as well?

    Personally, I think that's kinda of an absurd expenditure of 5+ years (assuming this were a legitimate PhD program, and I'm not convinced it is).

  10. Talyn

    Talyn Reality Hacker

    I've heard about this kind of thing happening. Normally it's initiated when the interviewer, while loosening her blouse around the bust, asks, "So, how do you feel about doing... Overtime?"
  11. holyheadjch

    holyheadjch Valued Member

    Just having a PhD in something means you have developed certain skills that many other people don't have. You find me someone who has completed a PhD and I will show you someone with badass speed reading skills and a knowledge of reference formats that will blow your tiny mind to hell.
  12. 47MartialMan

    47MartialMan Valued Member

    You stated:
    I wouldn't hire a PhD in martial arts philosophy to teach martial arts.

    I am saying despite what you may do-per hire, others are hiring or paying teachers without proper qualification to teach martial arts.

    These underqualifying teachers believe the more pieces of paper on the wall, the more they can comand decent fees
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2010
  13. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    Well that sounds like an argument against a PhD in martial arts philosophy. Yes? Another meaningless piece of paper on the wall.
  14. AndrewTheAndroid

    AndrewTheAndroid A hero for fun.

    I know plenty of people that got their PhD in Thailand. $50.
  15. dormindo

    dormindo Active Member Supporter

    Well, I don't know about a PhD in MA philosophy, but I did do a 37 page paper in undergrad (senior level Special Problems course) about environmental factors that shaped the culture that in turn shaped the form (i.e., evasion, inversion) of the central African antecedant arts that later became known as capoeira (de angola). Of course, it took in many other disciplines (sociological, anthropological, historical) and didn't much touch on the philosophy of the art at all (the study of the philosophy itself would definitely not seem like enough to carry a degree unless the study were to be interdisciplinary and not just drawing from the study of Philosophy itself).

    Also, I would think that a PhD in MA philosophy--were one to exist--would be best suited for the purposes of curator at a museum dedicated to Asian (or whatever the culture of the particular art) culture. It wouldn't necessarily be the type of thing that I would say would make a good or capable MA instructor. On the other hand, I've come across some instructors who could use a better understanding of philosophy, Eastern or Western.


    Dead_pool likes this.
  16. holyheadjch

    holyheadjch Valued Member

    It's not a PhD that would be recognised in any serious academic or commercial setting. These things aren't hard to check, for a start, all you'd have to do is ask to see their thesis. I doubt you get one supplied for $50.
    Dead_pool likes this.
  17. dormindo

    dormindo Active Member Supporter

    Oh, I'd give someone a PhD thesis for $50--a cover sheet and 75 pages typed in invisible ink (complete with end notes and bibliography, of course). ;)


  18. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    Oh hey, I'm not saying that an academic treatment of martial arts is a waste of time. Quite the opposite. Martial arts are intimately connected with all sorts of disciplines, from history, psychology, sports science, philosophy, etc. And those are all legitimate fields of study. I would have plenty of respect for any academian who addressed a topic involving martial arts in a serious scholarly paper, for instance.

    But "martial arts philosophy" sounds like a hodge podge of stuff that appeals to the amateur orientalist in us. Philosophies and martial arts are both products of a culture. And I'm all for studying the culture.

  19. scott_b

    scott_b New Member

    WARNING AND APOLOGY - This is a long post to clarify some misconceptions.

    I've just come across this thread, intrigued by some of the posts and the myths out there.

    The reason for replying is that I have worked in universities since 2002 and yes, I do have a PhD which is martial art related. (I will explain more about this later.)

    First off, the award of PhD varies from country to country. By this, some require a shorter thesis, some the viva voce, some a presentation to an open audience, etc. In addition, there are numerous pathways to get the 'Dr' title such as taught doctorates. This is more like a masters degree with modules, followed by the thesis/dissertation.

    In the UK, a PhD consists of an 80,000 word thesis which is submitted to a panel of external examiners. These are experts in their field, typically professors/senior academics with publications and research in the field. (Note: in the UK, the term 'professor' is someone with a long tradition of research and publications, not just a teacher in higher education who would normally be called a 'lecturer' or 'senior lecturer'. I guess the term used in the US is 'tenured professor' or equivalent. To become a professor similarly involves a critical evaluation from other professors in the field at a national and international level.)

    If a potential PhD candidate can find a couple of experts in their field to verify that their proposed research will make a valid contribution to knowledge, then this is passed through a panel to ensure the student has the right level of academic competence. From this, they have between 3 years (full time study) to 7 years (part-time study) to complete under supervision from people aligned with the field. Once the thesis is submitted, the viva voce takes place. This can be a 2-3 hour oral examination where every aspect of the research is critiqued/attacked to see if the student can justify their research decisions and findings.

    The only real stipulation is that the research 'makes an original contribution to knowledge'. If this is satisfied, the PhD is awarded. Other outcomes are that it is not awarded and further work is needed (the normal outcome), or that only a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) is awarded (a 'lower' degree), or that nothing is awarded.

    Despite my professional background being in education and psychology, areas I continue to research and teach at university, I have trained in the martial arts for close to 40 years. My original intention was to research the impact of martial arts in schools in self-esteem, etc. It eventually turned into trying to find out whether training in martial arts impacts on the psychological wellbeing of participants.

    This opens a number of problems. Which martial arts can be researched in the time frame? Can Karate really be compared with Escrima - both are for fighting, yet both vary differently in approach, etc. As such, I decided to focus on the style I have predominantly trained, Wing Chun.

    Working on a PhD is similar to going on a 1000 mile drive without a map. You really haven't a clue where you will end up but have a vague idea which direction you are heading. There are interesting streets and highways to drive down that eventually lead to nowhere. Similarly, one small track could open up huge vistas.

    Eventually my PhD proposed a model (or taxonomy) for how martial arts develop. I focused on Wing Chun and although I was only going to write a short chapter on the history of Wing Chun, each layer you scratch away reveals further depths. Using research from an esteemed American professor, Dian Murray, I dismissed the Southern Shaolin hypothesis given that this proposed temple was a road-side shack, unlike it's famous and established brother, the Northern Shaolin Temple. The only verifiable evidence I could find was based on the Red Junk Cantonese Opera. Unfortunately I do not read Chinese or have access to Chinese texts (many of which would have been burned in the Cultural Revolution), so my research only supported the justification of Rennie Wu and colleagues, although I used more academic references.

    From this, the PhD was pretty standard - questionnaires, in-depth interviews, and so forth to explore participants' philosophies for training and the benefits they have derived from training.

    The eventual title was: Sects and Violence: Development of an inclusive taxonomy to hermeneutically explore the histo-philosophical motivators for the inception and development of the martial art, Wing Chun Kuen.

    The title means nothing unless you're prepared to unpick each word or read the thesis! However the academic fields covered are anthropology, philosophy and psychology (specifically transpersonal psychology).

    If I'm ever asked what my PhD is in (and the time isn't there to explain the nuances of the research), I will either say, 'the martial arts' or 'Wing Chun'. I have started saying 'anthropology of the martial art, Wing Chun' as this sounds more 'academic' in nature.

    So, what does this all mean?

    A PhD may be aligned to an established academic field but each PhD is unique in nature. A PhD is a PhD - it means you've worked for a long time on a small area of research which is unlikely to set the world alight. Remember, an expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less.

    I don't lecture in my area: occasionally I have published but I am an education professional which is what pays my wage.

    My PhD has not set the world alight. Ok, people who have written books on Wing Chun who do not substantiate their claims with any references or research are the first to attack my work. Furthermore an American professor's critique of my work has refuted the development of Wing Chun questioning, 'Why does Wing Chun have to come from anywhere?' Yet, in response, how come Wing Chun didn't develop in London, San Francisco, Bordeaux, or Outer Mongolia? (The latter would have more claim for the development of Wing Chun however if you know your history!) Why have the martial traditions in Europe differed to those in India? As one of my professors/supervisors said to me, 'It is harder to develop an original argument than to attack it'. Alas, it appears that most attacks are from uninformed perspectives where such individuals have a lot to lose (i.e. I critiqued their work for lack of research/references in my PhD, so they in turn have given poor reviews of my work!)

    It's also funny how a small statue in a museum in Shatin, Hong Kong, gave a pivotal piece of research to my thesis, along with one of the North Shaolin Temple's steles which has been written about by a sinologist in 1957.

    Even with people I've trained with for years, or who I've interviewed for the thesis have little interest in the research.

    What does the PhD really mean after all this?

    It is like any other certificate/qualification - a piece of A4 paper with your name in fancy writing with a decorative border. In the UK at least, the PhD means you have written a robust piece of academic research of 80k words which has been examined by experts in their field and, as such, are able to string a sentence together. Ultimately with any qualification, it is what you do with the skills you have developed which derive from your years of study. By this, I often teach mixed methodology in research methods modules given this is the approach I used in my thesis. I don't teach anything to students about Wing Chun, Shaolin history, Eastern philosophy.

    It is unlikely to be read. An American professor put a $20 bill in his thesis which was stored in the library at his university. Twenty years' later, it was still there!

    It does not endorse your martial art skills. I am late-40s with metal work in both knees. I can aim for my best but I can't compare my performance with anyone else.

    It does not mean I can run PhD courses in the martial arts. As discussed above, a PhD is unique. Ok, I may use some of my research to illustrate research methods when teaching doctoral students but that's it!

    I have however been used as an external examiner for a doctoral candidate to assess his thesis from which I was given a £200 fee (approx. $254).

    I would attach my thesis here but the file size permits this. Instead, please visit my profile on 'Research Gate' or search for the DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.20746.93122
    Dead_pool likes this.
  20. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    Is it an actual accredited university, or just a money making scam

    Haha, no extra learning required :

    Edit: I've just realised how old this thread is, so never mind!
    Last edited: May 26, 2019

Share This Page