What do martial arts signify today? What do they mean for East-West cross cultural exchanges? How does the representation of martial arts in popular culture impact on the wide world? What is authentic practice? What does it all mean?
From Kung Fu to Jiujitsu and from Bruce Lee to The Karate Kid, Mythologies of Martial Arts explores the key myths and ideologies in martial arts in contemporary popular culture. The book combines the author’s practical, professional and academic experience of martial arts to offer new insights into this complex, contradictory world. Inspired by the work of Roland Barthes in Mythologies, the book focusses on the signs, signifiers and practices of martial arts globally. Bringing together cultural studies, film studies, media studies, postcolonial studies with the emerging field of martial arts studies the book explores the broader significance of martial arts in global culture. Using an accessible yet theoretically sophisticated style the book is ideal for students, scholars and anyone interested in any type of martial art.
Acknowledgements/ Introduction/ 1. Wrestling Myth/ 2. The Status of Martial Arts in the West: From the Kung Fu Craze to Master Ken/ 3. Cross-Cultural Desire in Western Eastern Martial Arts/ 4. The Circulation of Qi in Media and Culture/ 5. Myths of Martial Arts History, Authority and Authenticity/ 6. On Kicking, Kung Fu, and Knowing Your Lineage/ 7. Enter the Ethnicity/ 8. Wong Jack Man versus Bruce Lee Mythology/ 9. The Gender of Martial Arts Studies/ 10. Everybody was Action Film Fighting/ 11. The Weird and the Wonderful in Martial Arts Today/ 12. Martial Arts Myth Today/ Bibliography/ Index
Paul Bowman is Director of Postgraduate Research Studies in the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University. He is the founding editor of JOMEC Journal and Martial Arts Studies; founder of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Film and Visual Culture Research; Director of the Race, Representation and Cultural Politics Research Group and co-director of the Reconstructing Multiculturalism Research Network. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Cardiff University Press.
He has edited multiple issues of the journal Parallax, plus issues of the journals Postcolonial Studies, Social Semiotics and Educational Philosophy and Theory, as well as regular issues of JOMEC Journal. In addition, he has edited several books: Interrogating Cultural Studies (2003), The Truth of Žižek (2006), The Rey Chow Reader (2010), Reading Rancière (2011) and Rancière and Film (2013). He has also authored many academic monographs: Post-Marxism versus Cultural Studies (2007), Deconstructing Popular Culture (2008), Theorizing Bruce Lee (2010), Culture and the Media (2012), Beyond Bruce Lee (2013) and Reading Rey Chow (2013). His work has been translated into Italian, Spanish, Chinese and Farsi. He is on the editorial board of Culture Machine, Global Discourse, East Asian Journal of Popular Culture, The Poster, and Ctrl-Z: New/Media/Philosophy.
Bowman provides a fascinating insight for those interested in cultural studies to begin thinking about how martial arts in general have been situated in American society.... Bowman masterfully enters this discussion, raising much needed debate, and doing it in a way that demands readers be serious about the field of cultural studies. Dividing the book into separate chapters, all of which deal with a specific set of questions, documents, and arguments, this text would fit well into any advanced graduate reading seminar, either as a complete text or with select chapters serving as standalone essays. Likewise, this work is bound to raise the interest of cultural studies scholars as treats its subject with intelligence, and focus. One can hardly ask for anything more when reading a book.
Professor Paul Bowman’s latest book sets a new standard for exploring the cultural, sociological and ideological criticism of the martial arts within modern society.
This wide-ranging, provocative, and entertaining collection of essays should interest all thoughtful martial artists. Whether exploring the phenomenology of kicking, legends surrounding Bruce Lee, machismo and sexism in martial arts culture, or debates over “traditional” vs. “realistic” approaches to fighting, Bowman prompts us to let down our guard and to interrogate the myriad mythologies that inform the martial arts world.
Addressed to academics and martial artists alike, Bowman’s Mythologies of Martial Arts offers a series of lively and accessible but incisive, surprising, and always provocative analyses of the martial arts and their cultural significance. Bowman challenges received thinking in all its guises, in a must-read book for anyone intellectually serious about the martial arts.
Following in the spirit of Roland Barthes’ Mythologies (1957), Paul Bowman has set a new standard for the exploration of cultural, social and ideological criticism within martial arts studies. Whether investigating the intricacies of history, identity or humor, each chapter sheds much needed light on the global appeal of these fighting systems. Accessible yet profound in turns, this work is sure to be a classic.