Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Carl Herndl, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lisa Melonçon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Steven Jones, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Cathryn Molloy, Ph.D.


embodied rhetoric, martial arts, Daoism, commonplaces, writing studies, pedagogy


This study examines Tae Kwon Do practitioner manuals as sites for better understanding the way diverse rhetorics can become embodied through technique. This dissertation understands martial arts in a Foucauldian sense as rhetorical institutions which discipline practitioners both physically and ideologically. A theory of “embodied topoi,” a term coined here to describe the process by which cultural commonplaces are incorporated into a material, carnal, or performed identity is presented alongside a review of how athletic or martial bodies have been previously studied. Seven popular Tae Kwon Do technical manuals are analyzed for moments when 1. Commonplaces are described, 2. “Daoist topoi” are linked to specific techniques, 3. These “embodied topoi” are connected to inter/intrapersonal skill development. Results demonstrate that Tae Kwon Do pumsae were rhetorically invented to respond to various audience expectations about martial arts more broadly as well as political or social exigencies. Nearly all manuals featured explicit descriptions of underlying philosophical concepts to be embodied and a majority attempt to pinpoint these ideas manifesting in specific martial techniques. There are strong connections between the kinds of inter/intrapersonal skills reportedly cultivated through Tae Kwon Do pumsae practice and the kinds of mindfulness habits recognized as integral to success in postsecondary writing and college success. Pedagogical tools for helping first-year students (as well as writing instructors and administrators) develop those habits are presented in the conclusion alongside future research projects surrounding rhetorics of violence and the ethics of cultivating martial bodies.

Included in

Rhetoric Commons