‘It can be a religion if you want’: Wing Chun Kung Fu as a secular religion

George Jennings, David Brown, Andrew C. Sparkes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing on data generated from a six-year ethnographic study of one Wing Chun Kung Fu Association in England, this article explores the ways in which this martial art is constructed as a form of religion and functions as a secular religious practice for core members of this association. Two key features of this process are identified. The first involves the ways in which Wing Chun evolves from an everyday secular practice into something that takes on sacralized meanings for participants while the second focuses on the development of a Wing Chun habitus over time. The article closes with a discussion of how the findings relate to broader discussions of martial arts practices, religion and spirituality in Western cultures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-557
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Martial arts
  • Secular religion
  • Body
  • Identity
  • Habitus
  • Sensual solidarity
  • Collective effervescence
  • Sacralization


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