November 5, 2015 Martial Arts Studies

Is Martial Arts Studies an Academic Field?


This article by Paul Bowman proposes that the emerging field of martial arts studies will benefit by engaging as thoroughly with questions of disciplinarity as with questions of martial arts. It argues that thorough and self-reflexive attention to the problems and possibilities associated with academic work as such will greatly enrich martial arts studies and enable it to develop into as vital and dynamic a field as possible. The article explores martial arts studies in terms of the recent history of disciplinary transformation in the university via the case of cultural studies, and then goes on to explore two different kinds of approach to the academic study of martial arts (first, the work of Farrer and Whalen-Bridge, and then that of Stanley Henning).

The article is an extract from Chapter One of Martial Arts Studies: Disrupting Disciplinary Boundaries (Bowman 2015). It is reproduced here with kind permission of the publisher, Rowman & Littlefield International.


DOI 10.18573/J.2015.10015



Bowman, Paul. 2015. ‘Asking the Question: Is Martial Arts Studies an Academic Field?’, Martial Arts Studies 1, 3-19.


Paul Bowman (Cardiff University) is author of nine books, including Martial Arts Studies: Disrupting Disciplinary Boundaries (2015). He is founder and director of the AHRC-funded Martial Arts Studies Research Network and co-editor of the journal Martial Arts Studies. He is currently working on a book called Mythologies of Martial Arts.

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