Excellent performance in sport involves specialized and refined skills within very narrow applications. Choking throws a wrench in the works of finely tuned performances. Functionally, and reduced to its simplest expression, choking is severe underperformance when engaging already mastered skills. Choking is a complex phenomenon with many intersecting facets: its dysfunctions result from the multifaceted interaction of cognitive and psychological processes, neurophysiological mechanisms, and phenomenological dynamics. This article develops a phenomenological model that, complementing empirical and theoretical research, helps understand and (...) redress choking. It aims at describing the experience of choking as experience, and to discuss strategies to palliate or prevent its onset at the pragmatic level at which athletes engage the phenomenon experientially. An overview of current empirical research and theoretical models highlights key ideas and points out contentious issues. The model describes the common structure of the choking experience. It identifies four core constitutive elements: A) disruptive proprioceptive and kinesthetic dynamics, B) a malfunctioning background or Jamesian fringe of consciousness, C) dislocated time dynamics, and D) emotional disturbances. The novelty of the remedy is that it is designed to cross disciplinary boundaries between phenomenology, historiography, and hermeneutics, and moreover connects theory to praxis as it looks at Japanese dō, practices of self-cultivation. It focuses on actual do-or-die situations, not putative ones such as important business deals or competing for a medal. To this effect, it examines medieval Japanese swordsmanship and training manuals and also engages risk sports, where death is indeed a real possibility. The manuals, which arise in the context of choke-inducing life or death duels, and risk sports, afford keen phenomenological observations and practical advice that prove invaluable for today’s sports world and beyond. (shrink)
This second part of the essay deals with the horns of the dilemma at the conceptual level and ?on the street?. The first part ended with that quandary where a deep understanding was precluded no matter which way one turned, whether an inadequate comprehension based on individual and partial notions, a perplexing pluralist path or a relinquishment of the hermeneutic enterprise altogether. The philosophical solution of existential overtones presently put forward deftly avoids the sharp ends of the predicament by means (...) of a three-tiered phenomenological analysis of the event. First, death is considered via Heidegger's and Sartre's existential examination; next, risk and related concepts, such as fear, are scrutinised; and third, Nietzsche's and Ortega y Gasset's life-affirming views lead us to the liberating conclusion: facing danger and death are means to an enhanced and joyful experience of life. As in the first part, this one also presents several photographs that complement the text at different levels. Once several objections are disposed of, readers are left with a philosophical elucidation of a sense of joy predicated on the ability to face daring challenges willingly undertaken for the fun of it. (shrink)
Skillful Striving investigates the nature of the cultivation of excellence, the conditions that render it possible, and its potential for inspiration from the perspective of enactive wisdom—one that by enacting lays down a way or path. Performative endeavors whose telos centrally involves physical performance—sports, martial and performing arts, crafts–—are the focus of this inquiry. These are privileged ways for a holistic cultivation of our talents and limitations. The main philosophical thrust can be summarized as a “thick holism” where naturalism and (...) normativity combine. Skillful Striving is concerned with an integrative bodymind and its ways of knowing and experiencing that issue forth from active engagements with the world, and whose goal is defined by certain standards of qualitative performance that ultimately aim at excellence. The process of cultivation relies on a rich epistemic landscape where skills are coupled to virtues in pragmatic contexts. These contexts are ecologically broad in the sen. (shrink)
The essay, divided in two parts, examines the event of the running of the bulls (encierro in Spanish). The phenomenon of the encierro, a complex cultural activity of deep historical roots, demands to be understood: What drives people to risk injury or death at the horns of untamed bulls? How should we make sense of this, subjective and objectively? To answer these questions, I use a framework that relies on explanation and assessment of popular views on the way to arguing (...) for a philosophical alternative. This arrangement is readily adaptable to many other sporting (and non-sporting) activities where risk and/or mass participation are key factors. Its unorthodox format ? organised around an opening narrative of a paradigmatic, skilled and lucky run with the bulls, as well as hors texte (direct appeals to the reader) ? brings the reader straight into the fray, philosophical and otherwise. Part I begins by presenting the history of the encierro. It also explains the dynamics of the event, often via images with pedagogical and critical side-commentaries. It proceeds to introduce and critically engage with prevalent explanations, most with ethnological tendencies, that conceive the running as tradition, rite, ritual and sport. This part ends with a dilemma whereby we either try to explain matters by resorting to particular and partial interpretations, or a ?democratic? conglomerate of superficial and confusing boundaries, or in the end we simply concede our inability to understand the phenomenon of the running of the bulls in toto. This philosophical impasse will be evaded in part 2 (Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 2, 1) via existentialist and phenomenological analysis. (shrink)
This paper examines and contrasts the Chinese notion of ‘inside-outside connectivity’ emphasized in Taijiquan studies with French philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s concept of ‘Body without Organs.’ Pursuing this dialogue while relating this to sport redresses a lack of novel thought and linkages with contemporary thought in Chinese scholarship, and most interestingly for sport, opens new lines of inquiry that help redefine our bodies as holistic sites of performance.
Mental representation has long been central to standard accounts of action and cognition generally, and in the context of sport. We argue for an enactive and embodied account that rejects the idea that representation is necessary for cognition, and posit instead that cognition arises, or is enacted, in certain types of interactions between organisms and their environment. More specifically, we argue that enactive theories explain some kinds of high-level cognition, those that underlie some of the best performances in sport and (...) similar practices, better than representational accounts. Flow and mushin are explained enactively to this end. This results in a mutually beneficial analysis where enactivism offers theoretical and practical advantages as an explanation of high performance in sports, while the latter validates enactivism. (shrink)
Covering interesting and varied philosophical terrain, _Cycling - Philosophy for Everyone_ explores in a fun but critical way the rich philosophical, cultural, and existential experiences that arise when two wheels are propelled by human energy. Incorporates or reflects the views of high-profile and notable past-professional cyclists and insiders such as Lennard Zinn, Scott Tinley, and Lance Armstrong Features contributions from the areas of cultural studies, kinesiology, literature, and political science as well as from philosophers Includes enlightening essays on the varieties (...) of the cycling experience, ranging from the ethical issues of success, women and cycling, environmental issues of commuting and the transformative potential of cycling for personal growth Shows how bicycling and philosophy create the perfect tandem Includes a foreword by Lennard Zinn, author and owner of Zinn Cycles Inc. (shrink)