Society for East Asian Anthropology
Society for Psychological Anthropology
Cosponsored - Oral Presentation Session
In working with young people, a variety of psychophysical (or body-based) practices are increasingly used in both preventive and therapeutic settings. Such interventions accentuate physical and emotional experiences, followed by reflection, from which an ‘embodied’ insight arouses. Also in China and Taiwan, this approach is gradually gaining popularity. One example is Rock and Water, a psychophysical program to increase self-awareness, self-confidence and improve social functioning (Ykema 2002). The program is developed in the Netherlands, but many of its specific physical exercises such as ‘Chinese boxing’ are rooted in taijiquan, qigongand wushu techniques.Previous research has addressed the effects and learning process of this program in a Western context. This paper will examine the increasing popularity of the program in China and Taiwan, where not only body-based practices know a long history, but where youth are also reported to be the longer the more subject to emotional and relational problems. Based on examination of the curriculum and interviews with trainers, the paper will deal with what trainers experience as major challenges and advantages of this program, and will question whether or not - and if so, why and to what extent - the original Rock and Waterprogram has been accommodated to the Chinese context. The paper concludes with some reflections on how the program can set an example for a new type of intervention that combines non-indigenous with indigenous Chinese health practices.