Dr George Jennings


Lecturer in Sport Sociology / Physical Culture


George is a qualitative sociologist who works between the realms of cultural sociology, cultural anthropology and comparative philosophy. His primary research interest lies in the study of alternative and traditionalist physical cultures, such as Eastern movement forms, martial arts, native games and folkloric dance.

His previous (auto)ethnographic and narrative work looked at the long-term practice of Wing Chun Kung Fu and other traditionalist Chinese martial arts in Britain, and he later studied the emerging martial arts of contemporary Mexico through an ethnographic and case study approach.

George continues to look at traditionalist and pre-Hispanic Mexican physical culture alongside a new study on the dynamic relationships between martial arts/combat sports, health and society. Connecting to this, he works with colleagues on the phenomenological understandings of embodied experiences in various physical cultures with the Health Advancement Research Team (HART) based at the University of Lincoln.

Academic Books
Jennings, G. (Forthcoming). Martial arts, health and society: Critical perspectives. As part of the Martial Arts Studies book series. London: Rowman & Littlefield International.

E-book chapters

Jennings, G. (Forthcoming). Xilam and Mexican / Mesoamerica heritage: Exploring relationships between tangibility and intangibility. In V. Lo Iacono (Ed.). Intangible heritage in physical culture.

Jennings, G. (Forthcoming). Pre-Hispanic dance in Mexico as native heritage: Following the path of Quetzalcoatl. In V. Lo Iacono (Ed.), Dance heritage. 

Book chapters

Piedra, J., Gallardo, D. & Jennings, G. (In press). Boys in Rhythmic Gymnastics: Gymnasts’, parents’ and coaches’ perspectives from Southern Spain. In McGrath, J. Cleland & E. Anderson (Eds.), Handbook of Sport and Masculinity.

Jennings, G. (2018). Messy research positioning and changing forms of ethnography: Reflections from a study of a Mexican martial art. In A. Plews (Ed.) Messy ethnographies in action (pp. 41-50). Wilmington, DE: Vernon Press.

Jennings, G. Aspects of Mexican sexuality in the martial art of Xilam. In J. Piedra (Ed.), LGBTI people in Latin American sport. New York: Springer.

Jennings, G. & Cabrera, B. (2015). Gender inequality in Olympic boxing: Exploring structuration through the online resistance to weight category restrictions. In A. Channon & C. Matthews (Eds.), Women Warriors: International Perspectives on Women in Combat Sports (pp. 89-103). Palgrave MacMillan.

Jennings, G. (2015). Mexican female warriors: The case of maestra Marisela Ugalde, founder of Xilam. In A. Channon & C. Matthews (Eds.), Women Warriors: International Perspectives on Women in Combat Sports (pp. 119-134).Palgrave MacMillan.

Brown, D. & Jennings, G. (2013). In search of the martial habitus: Identifying dispositional schemes in Wing Chun and Taijiquan. In R. Garcia Sánchez & D. Spencer (Eds.), Fighting Scholars: Habitus and ethnographies of martial arts and combat sports (pp. 33-48).London: Anthem Press.

Book entries

Jennings, G. (2018). Ethnography in martial arts studies. In P. Atkinson, S. Delamont & M. Williams (Eds.), The SAGE Encyclopaedia of Social Science Research Methods (online handbook). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE. 

Journal articles

Jennings, G. (2018). From the calendar to the flesh: Movement, space and identity in a Mexican body culture. Societies, 8(3), 66.

Partikova, V. & Jennings, G. (2018). The Kung fu family: A metaphor of belonging across time and place. Revista de Artes Marciales Asiáticas, 13(1), 35-52.

Allen Collinson, J., Jennings, G., Vaittinen, A. & Owton, H. (2018). Weather-wise? Sporting embodiment, weather work and weather learning in running and triathlon. International Review for the Sociology of Sport (online early) http://journals.sagepub.com/eprint/Vd8iJVvbCUicA72VR8Xs/full 

Jimenez-Loaisa, A., Beltrán-Carrillo, V., Jennings, G., Gonzalez-Cutre, D. & Cervello, E. (under review). Socio-ecological factors behind the physically (in)active lifestyles of post-bariatric surgery patients in Alicante, Spain.

Allen Collinson, J., Vaittinen, A., Jennings, G. & Owton, H. (2016). Exploring lived heat, "temperature work" and embodiment: Novel auto/ethnographic insights from physical culture. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography (online early).

Jennings, G. (2016). Ancient wisdom, modern warriors: The (re)invention of a warrior tradition in Xilam. Martial Arts Studies, 2, 59-70.

Jennings, G. (2015). Transmitting health philosophies through the traditionalist Chinese martial arts in the UK. Societies, 4(4), 712-736.

Brown, D., Jennings, G. & Sparkes, A.C. (2014). Taijiquan the ‘Taiji World’ way: Towards a cosmopolitan vision of ecology. Societies, 4(3), 380-398.

Channon, A. & Jennings, G. (2014). Exploring embodiment through martial arts and combat sports: A review of empirical research. Sport in Society , 17(6), 773-789.

Channon, A. & Jennings, G. (2013). The rules of engagement: Negotiating painful and intimate touch in mixed-sex martial arts. Sociology of Sport Journal, 30, 487-503.

Jennings, G. (2013). Martial arts and embodied interaction: Reflections on YMCA training experiences. The Journal of the International Coalition of YMCA Universities, 1, 60-68.

Jennings, G. (2013). Interviews as embodied interaction: Confessions from a practitioner-researcher of martial arts. Qualitative Methods in Psychology Bulletin, 16, 16-24.

Beltrán Carrillo, V.J., Tortosa Martínez, J., Jennings, G. y Sánchez, E.S. (2013). Contributions of a group-based exercise program to overcome fibromyalgia: A qualitative study giving voice to female patients. Women and Health, 53(6), 612-629. 

Jennings, G. (2012). Learning, mastery and ageing: Alternative narratives among British practitoners of traditionalist Chinese martial arts. Asia Pacific Journal of Sport and Social Science, 1, 128-142.

Brown, D. & Jennings, G. (2011).Body lineage: Conceptualizing the transmission of traditional Asian martial arts (in the West). Staps, 32(93), 61-71.

Jennings, G., Brown, D. y Sparkes, A.C. (2010). “It can be a religion if you want”: Wing Chun Kung Fu as a secular religion. Ethnography, 11(4), 533-557.

Brown, D., Jennings, G. and Molle, A. (2009). Belief in the martial arts: Exploring relationships between Asian martial arts and religion. Stadion: International Journal of the History of Sport, 35, 47-66.

Brown, D., Jennings, G. & Leledaki, A. (2008). The changing charismatic status of the performing male body in Asian martial arts films. Sport in Society, 11(2/3), 174-194.

Invited talks

Delamont, S. & Jennings, G. (2018). Style and stamina: Masculinities in UK Savate. In Masculinities in Martial Sports: West, East and the Global South. Durham University, UK, 6-7 December 2018.  

Jennings, G. (2017). Mexican physical culture: A festival of creativity and diversity. Invited talk for Day of the Dead celebration with Latin American Society, Cardiff University Student Union, 2nd November 2017.

Jennings, G. (2017). Taking a slow look at "messy" documents: Reflection from a decade of martial arts research. GW4 Doctoral Training Special Session on Documents Research, Cardiff University, 23rd June, 2017.

Jennings, G. (2017). El genero y la sexualidad en el arte marcial mexicano de Xilam (Gender and sexuality in the Mexican martial art of Xilam). University of Seville, Spain, 28 November 2017.

Jennings, G. (2017). Definiciones y modelos de artes marciales: Una fundacion de investigacion sobre la salud (Definitions and models of martial arts: A foundation for health research). Universidad Miguel Hernandez, Elche, Spain, 29 June 2017.

Jennings, G. (2017). Trabajando como investigador en el Reino Unido y Mexico: Un analisis de la profesion (Working as a researcher in the United Kingdom and Mexico: An analysis of the profession). Universidad Miguel Hernandez, Elche, Spain, 28 June 2017.

Jennings, G. (2017). Japanese philosophy and global sociology: Possibilities for an international martial arts studies. AHRC Funded New Research in Japanese Martial Arts Event, Royal Literary & Scientific Institution, 3 May 2017.

Jennings, G. (2017). Olympic boxing and the UFC: A critical look at the intended and unintended "legacy" of the events. Bath University, 24 March 2017. 

Jennings, G. (2017). Martial arts as sustainable, healthy practices: social perspectives on self-cultivation. The Gate Community and Arts Centre, Cardiff, 21st February 2017.

Jennings, G. (2017). Machos and Mummies Boys: Gender Tensions in a Mexican Combat Sport. Presentation and roundtable discussion, Gender and Sexuality in Policy and Practice group (GASP), Cardiff University, 25th January 2017.

​Jennings, G. (2016). Fun and Games in Xilam: Using Play as Pedagogy in a Mexican martial art. Ethnography Seminar Series, Cardiff University, 7th November 2016.

Jennings, G. (2016). Mesoamerican philosophy: Lessons from a Mexican martial art. New Acropolis School of Philosophy, London, UK. 12th September 2016.

Jennings, G. (2015). Standing postures in the traditional Chinese martial arts: A form of therapy? Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico.

Jennings, G. (2014). Health philosophies in traditional Chinese martial arts. Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico.
Jennings, G. (2014). Taijiquan the Taiji World way: For an ecological vision and cosmopolitan wellbeing. Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico.​

Research seminars

Jennings, G. (2017). The cultural pedagogy of Xilam. School of Sport and Service Management, University of Brighton, 30 November 2017.

Jennings, G. & Pedrini, L. (2017). Critical Health Pedagogy in Martial Arts and Beyond. Coaching & Pedagogy Research Group Seminar, Cardiff School of Sport, 30 May 2017.

Short articles

Owen, C., Channon, A. & Jennings, G. (2018). Cobra Kai: Karate Kid spin-off is a social parable for our times. The Conversation. Available at: https://theconversation.com/cobra-kai-karate-kid-spin-off-is-a-social-parable-for-our-times-101530 

Jennings, G. (2018). Health research: Where medicine meets martial arts studies? International Society of Critical Health Psychology. Available at: https://ischp.info/category/commentaries/ 

Brown, D. & Jennings, G. (2018). The real-life dangers of learning self-defence from viral videos - martial arts experts. The Conversation. Available at: https://theconversation.com/the-real-life-dangers-of-learning-self-defence-from-viral-videos-martial-arts-experts-99232

Jennings, G. (2017). Pursuing health through techniques of the body in martial arts. Journal of the International Coalition of YMCA Universities, 5, 54-72. 

Jennings, G. (2017). Seeking identity through the martial arts: The case of Mexicanidad. In chinesemartialstudies (Kung Fu Tea), https://chinesemartialstudies.com/2017/08/14/seeking-identity-through-the-martial-arts-the-case-of-mexicanidad/

Jennings, G. (2017) Learning Language through the Body: Lessons from the Martial Arts. Entropy Publishing - spanishlanguagebites -  Available at: http://www.spanishlanguagebites.com/education-articles-learning-language-through-the-body-lessons-from-the-martial-arts-by-dr-george-jennings/

Jennings, G. (2016). Can the violence-inspired activities of martial arts be good for our health? Love Fighting, Hate Violence (LFHV) blog: http://lfhv.org/2016/12/04/can-the-violence-inspired-activities-of-martial-arts-be-good-for-our-health/

Jennings, G. & Vaittinen, A. (2016). Mediated transformation: The role of multimedia in Wing Chun pedagogies. In www.chinesemartialstudies.com (Kung Fu Tea blog).

Jennings, G. (2016). Mesoamerican philosophy: Lessons from a Mexican martial art. In New Acropolis Magazine, 18 (September 2016), Culture Section.

Book reviews
Sparkes, A.C. & Smith, B. (2014). Qualitative research in sport, exercise and health. Qualitative Methods in Psychology Bulletin.

Ruspini, E., Hearn, J., Peape, B. & Pringle, K. (2011). Men and masculinity around the world: Transforming men’s practices. NORMA: International Journal for Masculinity Studies.

Markula, P. & Silk, M. (2011). Qualitative research in physical culture. Qualitative Methods in Psychology Bulletin.

Shilling, C. (2008). Changing bodies: Habit, crisis and continuity. Sociology, 45(4), 718-719.

Conference presentations

Jennings, G. (2018). Bruce Lee and the invention of martial arts: Crises, creativity and the pragmatic body in motion. Martial Arts Studies Conference: Bruce Lee's Cultural Legacies, Cardiff University, 12 July, 2018.

Jennings, G. (2018). Studying sport and mobility using non-Western theory: A call for a postcolonial, global canon. Sport in a Mobile World Postgraduate Seminar, University of Aveiro, 21 June, 2018.

Ibinarriaga, B. & Jennings, G. (2018). The time for biographies: Studying Pioneers of Mindfulness and Martial Arts in Mexico. Sport in a Mobile World Postgraduate Seminar, University of Aveiro, 20 June, 2018.

Ibinarriaga, B. & Jennings, G. (2018). The time for biographies: Studying Pioneers of Mindfulness and Martial Arts in Mexico. Narrative and Biographical Methods: Professional Learning and Organisational Change. University of Brighton, 18 June, 2018.

Jennings, G., Allen-Collinson, J., Vaittinen, A. & Owton, H. (2018). Autophenomenography and martial arts: Future directions for practitioner research. Etnografia e Ricerca Qualitativa, University of Bergamo, 8 June 2018.

Jennings, G. & Partikova, V. (2018). The Kung Fu Family: A Collectivist Metaphor of Belonging Across Time and Place. British Sociological Association (BSA) Annual Conference, 10 April 2018, Northumbria University, UK.

Jennings, G. (2017). The 'light' and 'dark' side of martial arts pedagogy: Towards a study of (un)healthy practices. International Coaching Conference, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, 6 September 2017.

Jiménez-Loaisa, A., Jennings, G., Beltrán-Carrillo, V. & González-Cutre, D. (2017). Female bariatric patients as actors: A dramaturgical analysis of identity roles before and after surgery. BSA Medical Sociology Annual Conference, University of York, 13-15 September 2017 (poster presented by Alex Jimenez).

Jennings, G. (2017). Messy researcher positioning and shifting types of ethnography: Reflections on a study of a Mexican martial art. Annual International Ethnography Symposium, Manchester University, 30 August – 1 September 2017.

Allen Collinson, Vaittinen, A., Jennings, G. and Owton, H. (2017). The Heat of the Action: Novel Insights from Auto/ethnographic Research on Physical Cultures. Virtual lightning talk at the 12th International Conference of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Hiroshima, Japan, 26-28 July 2017 (presented by Jacquelyn Allen Collinson). 

Jennings, G. (2017). Out of the Labyrinth: The recently invented Mexican martial arts riding the wave of Mexicanidad. Martial Arts Studies: An International, Interdisciplinary Conference, Cardiff University, 11-13 July 2017.

Jennings, G. (2017). Reclaiming sacred spaces: The case of Mexico-Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) and reinvented warrior traditions. British Sociological Association (BSA) Annual Conference, University of Manchester, 4-6 April 2017. 

Jennings, G. (2016). Ancient wisdom, modern warriors: The (re)invention of a Mesoamerican warrior tradition in Xilam. In The 2nd Martial Arts Studies Conference, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.

Jennings, G. & Vaitinnen, A. (2016). Sensuous transformation: The role of multimedia in Wing Chun pedagogies. In The 2nd Martial Arts Studies Conference, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.

Jennings, G. (2015). Sharing women’s stories: The life history of Marisela Ugalde, the founder of Xilam. In The 1st Martial Arts Studies Conference, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.

Jennings, G. (2011). Fighting in an interview: Reflexions of a practitioner-researcher of Chinese martial arts. Department of Education, University of Bath, UK.  

Jennings, G. & Brown, D. (2010). Kung Fu brothers: Narratives of secular family in a British Wing Chun association. British Sociological Association Sport Study Postgraduate Forum. Loughborough University, UK.

Jennings, G. & Brown, D. (2009). Mind, body and nature: The social practice of Taijiquan in British public open spaces. British Sociological Association Sport Study Postgraduate Forum. Chelsea School, University of Brighton, UK.  

Jennings, G. & Brown, D. (2009). Cultivating the martial habitus through partner training: Examples of Tai Chi and Wing Chun Kung Fu. 3rd International Qualitative Conference in Sport and Exercise. University of Roehampton, UK.  

Conference Reports

Jennings, G. (2017). Communicating martial arts knowledge: Conferring over a wealth of possibilities. Revista de Artes Marciales Asiáticas, 12(1), 45-49.

Research stays

University of Seville, Spain (27 November – 1 December 2017)

Universidad Miguel Hernandez, Elche, Spain (27-30 June 2017)

​​​​​Media work

Collaboration as a consultant for the BBC2 series Timeshift – Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting: The Rise of the Martial Arts in Modern Britain.

Invitation to speak on local Mexican radio Mexico en la Piel (Radio San Javier, Tlanepantla) about the research project on the martial arts of Mexico.


Module leadership
SSP5010 Sociology of Sport - Module Co-Leader
SSP4008 Sports Studies: a Critical Introduction - Module Leader
SSPP7103 Social Issues and Sporting Experience - Module Leader

PhD supervision
George is very interested in supervising students engaging in research on sports, games and physical cultures from different cultures and nations, and also the specific nuances of Welsh and British games. He is keen to work with researchers engaging with cultural and social theory and a mixed qualitative strategy employing (auto)ethnography, interviews and documental/media analysis.

Current PhD Students
​Valeria Lo Iacono. Dance as Living Cultural Heritage: A Trans-Cultural Ethnochoreology of Raqs Sharqi (Third Supervisor)


Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
PGCHE Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, Universities of Abertay Dundee and Dundee
PhD Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter
MSc Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter
BSc Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Exeter

Nominated for lecturer of the year, University of Abertay (2011).
Early Career Qualitative Researcher, Routledge (2009).
Research Award for Excellence, University of Exeter (2008).
Teaching in Higher Education, University of Exeter (2008).
Research in the Community, University of Exeter (2008).

External links

George is Research Associate at the University of Lincoln (Health Advancement Research Team).

Co-founder of the Journal of the International Coalition of YMCA Universities.
Regular reviewer for Revista de Artes Marciales Asiáticas
Reviewer for Body & Society, Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, Senses & Society and Sport in Society.​ 

Co-Founder and Co-Convenor of the Documents Research Network (DRN) with Dr. Aimee Grant of Cardiff University

Full member of British Sociological Association (BSA)

External Assessor at University of Brighton for BSc Sport Studies. 

Book Series Panel, Physical Culture Studies, Cardiff University Press


Official consultant for DojoTV, an independent Cardiff-based media firm that supports martial arts instructors, practitioners and researchers 

Sporting / Coaching background

George is a long-term practitioner of martial arts, having started his training at the age of 14. He is a qualified instructor of Wing Chun Kung Fu, and has trained in Judo, Kendo, kickboxing, Taekwondo and Xilam. He is currently creating a training methodology based on different martial arts movements and methods that might be useful for sport coaches and exercise therapists.