One of the highlights of the Cardiff Martial Arts Studies Conference was the idea that martial arts are being used for identity transformation. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this notion is being pioneered by women and is very exciting. Since the early 20th Century people have been trying to change their identities. The Boy Scouts come to mind, as do the less rigid journey-into-the-wilderness Outward Bound programs, created as New Age coming of age rituals. Psychotherapy, and psychology in general, have dabbled in this notion with limited success. Psychedelic drugs are defended on this basis in some circles. But the notion that there are specific tools of culture conceived specifically for the purpose of transforming identity may be a new idea.
Xilam is a new Mexican martial art created by Marisela Ugalde. I learned about it in a video presentation by George Jennings (adademia.edu). The name Xilam means removing the skin!
This art obviously draws on Asian martial arts, but it has been reconceived. Watch this video on Vimeo.
Or this slightly longer one on Youtube:
Here is their website. http://www.xilam.org/