I argue for the possibility of a proprioceptive art in addition to, for example, visual or auditory arts, where aspects of some martial arts will serve as examples of that art form.
My argument is inspired by a thought of Ted Shawn’s, one of the pioneers of American modern dance: ‘Dance is the only art wherein we ourselves are the stuff in which it is made.’
In a first step, I point out that in some practices of martial arts (in the paper I will introduce hyongs and katas), we are, too, the stuff these performances are made of.
Second, I show that we, as martial arts practitioners, are not in the first place visual or auditorial observers (as common in painting or music or ballet) but introspective, proprioceptive perceivers of our bodies and their movements. (As a corollary we get that we are, in such a case, necessarily our exclusive audience.)
In an third crucial step, I show that the martial arts practices referred to, hyongs and katas, and especially the proprioceptive aspects thereof, can indeed count as art.
Thus, proprioceptive art is possible because some practices of some martial arts are actual existing examples of that art form.
The chapter is organised in the following way. The first section deals with a couple of obvious objections and adds some caveats. The second section offers an explication of what I shall mean by art. Section three promotes the often neglected modality of proprioception and section four provides us with more detailed definitions of proprioception/interoception. While the previous sections serve as the necessary preliminaries, the part to follow, five, unfolds the actual argument for a proprioceptive art form, starting with Shawn’s quote as mentioned in the outline. It introduces the aspects of martial arts, namely hyongs, katas, etc., that fulfil many of the roles of art as listed in section two. In the final, sixth, section the arguments will be wrapped up. (There’s also a brief addendum on Schopenhauer’s aesthetic theory and how it might relate to the martial arts.)