A decade ago, the question was ‘could martial arts ever be studied academically?’ Today we are witnessing the global emergence and rapid proliferation of Martial Arts Studies – an exciting and dynamic new field that studies all aspects of martial arts in culture, history, and society. In recent years there have been a proliferation of studies of martial arts and race, gender, class, nation, ethnicity, identity, culture, politics, history, economics, film, media, art, philosophy, gaming, education, embodiment, performance, technology and many other matters. Given the diversity of topics and approaches, the question for new students and researchers is one of how to orientate oneself and gain awareness of the richness and diversity of the field, make sense of different styles of academic approach, and organise one’s own study, research and writing.
The Martial Arts Studies Reader answers this need, by bringing together pioneers of the field and scholars at its cutting edges to offer authoritative and accessible insights into its key concerns and areas. Each chapter introduces and sets out an approach to and a route through a key issue in a specific area of martial arts studies. Taken together or in isolation, the chapters offer stimulating and exciting insights into this fascinating research area. In this way, The Martial Arts Studies Reader offers the first authoritative field-defining overview of the global and multidisciplinary phenomena of martial arts and martial arts studies.
1. Introduction: What, Where and Why is Martial Arts Studies? Paul Bowman / 2. Early Chinese Works on Martial Arts Peter Lorge / 3. The Battlefield and the Bedroom: Chinese Martial Arts and Art of the Bedchamber Douglas Wile / 4. Martial Arts by the Book: Historical European Martial Arts Daniel Jaquet / 5. The Phone Book Project: Tracing the Diffusion of Asian Martial Arts in America Through the Yellow Pages, Michael Molasky / 6. Martial Arts, Media, and (Material) Religion, Esther Berg-Chan / 7. Liminoid Longings and Liminal Belonging: Hyper-reality, History and the Search for Meaning in the Modern Martial Arts, Benjamin N. Judkins / 8. ‘He’s an Animal’: Naturalizing the Hyperreal in Modern Combat Sport, Janet O’Shea / 9. Martial Arts as a Coping Strategy for Violence, Sixt Wetzler / 10. Performance Ethnography, D. S. Farrer / 11. Martial Arts Studies and the Sociology of Gender: Theory, Research and Pedagogical Application, Alex Channon / 12. Masculinities, Bodies, and Martial Arts, Dale C. Spencer / 13. Martial Arts as Embodied, Discursive, and Aesthetic Practice, Tim Trausch / 14. Carnival of the Drunken Master: The Politics of the Kung Fu Comedic Body, Luke White / 15. Learning from Martial Arts, Meaghan Morris and Paul Bowman
Paul Bowman is professor of cultural studies at Cardiff University.
This is a bold attempt to establish the possibility of a new field of study - at the very least a new inter-disciplinarity - with the even bolder distinction that the 'field research' of many of the contributors here is physical and pugilistic. The significations and stylisations of violence - their esoteric performability - make the martial arts susceptible to rich theoretical investigations, as well as being rich cartographies of violence as culturally expressed in many parts of the world.
The Martial Arts Studies Reader is a definitive overview of an exciting new multi-disciplinary research field.This edited collection coherently presents a wide variety of approaches to the academic study of martial arts in an authoritative yet accessible way. It is thoughtful, refreshing, stimulating and I foresee its usefulness to researchers and teachers for years to come.
Few cultural artefacts excite the imagination more than the martial arts, but their myriad forms, lingeages, narratives, and practices can frustrate scholars even as they fascinate. With this volume, Bowman unfurls an exciting territory for the study of the martial arts, rich in multifarious significance; this is a wonderful roadmap for adventurers seeking to explore a complex and critical landscape. The accomplished contributors bring diverse experiences and perspectives, revealing the inter- and multi-disciplinary importance of this rapidly-emerging transnational field.
The Martial Arts Studies Reader marks a milestone in the emerging interdisciplinary field of martial arts studies. It brings researchers from literature, history, sociology, philosophy, ethnography, anthropology, religion, law, sports science, performance, art, media, film, gender and cultural studies out of the ring, the cage, the dojo, and the wu guan into an engaging scholarly conversation that is genuinely global in its reach. This pioneering collection is essential reading for anyone who aspires to know more about the martial arts as an object of academic scrutiny as well as an art form and a way of life.
The Martial Arts Studies Reader succeeds in its goal of trying to ‘capture and convey something of the emerging constellation of martial arts studies’. With few exceptions, this collection poses an array of interesting and thought-provoking questions and central issues about the budding field of martial arts studies, and does so in a way that is generally accessible to martial artist, scholar, and layman alike.