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The 52 Hand Blocks, Sexual Dominance, and Mother Dear as Archetype

Green, Thomas A. 2020. The 52 Hand Blocks, Sexual Dominance, and Mother Dear as Archetype. Martial Arts Studies (9) , pp. 20-27. 10.18573/mas.98

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The ‘52 Hand Blocks’ is a fighting style associated with African-Americans and penal institutions in the United States. In the closing decades of the 20th century, interest in the ‘52s’ was fanned by references in popular media. The debate over its real-world existence and origins spanned from African-descended folk arts to the ring strategies of professional boxers who learned to box while inmates in juvenile detention facilities. Inevitably, those searching for an origin sought to identify a founder and a direct lineage. In oral tradition, the leading candidate was Mother Dear, a predatory homosexual and inmate of the New York penal system who reportedly used the 52s to beat reluctant sexual partners into submission. According to legend, adepts learned the 52s while incarcerated, frequently after being raped by their mentors. Additional research reveals that the Mother Dear archetype was neither unique nor confined to the African-American community. In fact, substantially similar characters who combine physical strength, fighting ability, and homosexuality appear across the prison lore of the United States. This study explores the psychological and social functions of these figures, with particular emphasis on the Mother Dear and his relationship to similar anti-heroes in African-American oral tradition.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GR Folklore
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Publisher: Cardiff University Press
ISSN: 2057-5696
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 6 July 2020
Date of Acceptance: 11 March 2020
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 01:28

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