Documentary Review: The Professor

The Professor: Tai Chi’s Journey West
by Barry Strugatz
USA 2016

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10.18573/J.2016.10072

Reviewer

Douglas Wile is Professor Emeritus of Brooklyn College-CUNY, former instructor of medical Chinese and history of Chinese medicine at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine NYC, and current assistant professor of Chinese language and Asian Studies at Alverno College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Conference Report: Mixing fencing ground and academic floor

Sword: Form and Thought
German Blade Museum, Solingen
19-21 November 2015

The Art That Suits You
Schlossberg Museum, Cheminitz
18-20 February 2016

Shields of the Late Middle Ages
Bavarian National Museum, Munich
4-5 March 2016

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DOI 10.18573/J.2016.10071

Reviewer

Daniel Jaquet is a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for History of Science, Berlin. He specialises in Historical European Martial Arts studies as both historian and practitioner. He has co-edited Late Medieval and Early Modern Fight Books: Transmission and Tradition of Martial Arts in Europe (14th-17th c.) and is the co- editor of the peer-reviewed journal Acta Periodica Duellatorum.

Book Review: Striking Beauty

Martial Striking Beauty:
A Philosophical Look at the Asian Martial Arts
by Barry Allen
Columbia University Press, 2015
272 pages, $30/£22

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DOI 10.18573/J.2016.10068

Reviewer

Hiu M. Chan is a PhD candidate at the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University.

Ancient Wisdom, Modern Warriors

Abstract

Xilam is a modern Mexican martial art that is inspired by pre- Hispanic warrior cultures of ancient Mesoamerica, namely the Aztecs (Mexica), Maya and Zapotec cultures. It provides a noteworthy case study of a Latin American fighting system that has been recently invented, but aspires to rescue, rediscover and relive the warrior philosophies that existed before the Spanish Conquest and subsequent movements beginning in 1521. Using the thought-provoking work of anthropologist Guillermo Bonfil Batalla, México Profundo, I aim to analyse the Xilam Martial Arts Association through the way that they represent themselves in their three main media outlets: the official webpage, the Facebook group and the YouTube channel. Overall, the data suggests that certain elements of Mesoamerican civilisation may be transmitted to young Mexicans through a mind-body discipline, which in turn acts as a form of physical (re)education. Overall, xilam is both an invented tradition (in a technical sense) and a re-invented tradition (in a cultural sense) that provides lessons on the timeless issues of transformation, transmission and transcendence.

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DOI 10.18573/J.2016.10064
 

Citation

Jennings, George. 2016. ‘Ancient Wisdom, Modern Warriors; The (Re)Invention of a Mesoamerican Warrior Tradition in Xilam’, Martial Arts Studies 2, 59-70.

Contributor

George Jennings is a qualitative sociologist interested in traditionalist physical cultures. His previous work has examined the traditionalist Chinese martial arts such as Wing Chun and Taijiquan, and he is currently investigating the dynamic relationships between martial arts, health and society. He is a researcher and editor at the Universidad YMCA, Mexico, and an associate researcher at the Health Advancement Research Team, University of Lincoln, UK.

The Fifty-Two Hand Blocks Re-framed

Abstract

From the late 1980s, a cluster of related African-American vernacular fighting styles became a focus of contention among martial artists. Over the next twenty years, evidence drawn from popular culture, social science, and sport validated the existence of vernacular styles such as Jailhouse Rock and the 52s. This paper examines the recent ‘re-framing’ of the 52s as a heritage art, a uniquely African-American expression for cultivating health, fitness, and ethnic pride, as well as the development of a structured, culturally-based curriculum which began in order to ensure its embodied preservation.

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DOI 10.18573/J.2016.10062

 

Citation

Green, Thomas A. 2016. ‘The Fifty-Two Hand Blocks Re-Framed: Rehabilitation of a Vernacular Martial Art’, Martial Arts Studies 2, 23-33.

Contributor

Thomas A. Green earned his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Texas (Austin). After teaching at Idaho State University and the University of Delaware, he joined the faculty in Anthropology at Texas A&M University. Folklore and cultural anthropology comprise his primary teaching duties. He has conducted research among groups ranging from urban gang members and Northern Chinese martial artists to Native American political activists and African-American cultural nationalists with a focus on the ways that traditional art forms identify and manage cultural conflict. He currently collaborates with Chinese colleagues on the vernacular martial culture of the contemporary PRC. In addition to academic articles, he has published twelve volumes on these topics, including Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia of History and Innovation, co-edited with Joseph R. Svinth. Green has served in editorial roles for academic journals in the U.S. and Europe, including the Journal of American Folklore.

Book Review: Martial Arts and the Body Politic in Indonesia

Martial Arts and the Body Politic in Indonesia
by Lee Wilson
Leiden and Boston, 2015
258 pages, $97/£59

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DOI 10.18573/J.2016.10070

Reviewer

D. S. Farrer is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Guam. He edited War Magic: Religion, Sorcery, and Performance [2016], co-edited Martial Arts as Embodied Knowledge: Asian Traditions in a Transnational World [2011], and authored Shadows of the Prophet: Martial Arts and Sufi Mysticism [2009]

Fight-Dancing and the Festival

Abstract

Festivals bring people together in affirmations of community. This article looks at two festivals in coastal locations in Indonesia and Brazil with a close inspection of performances of fight-dancing included within both festivals. The improvisatory or choreographed organization of the fight- dancing performances echoes the manner in which the festivals themselves are assembled. As these festivals grow in popularity, the process of inventing tradition is heterogeneously co- constituted by those parties who actively invest in the symbolic capital of the events. Verbal and non-verbal forms of expression reinforce each other in the construction of a multivalent sense of regional traditions. The corporeal engagement of organisers and participants blurs the boundary between embodied remembering and narrative accounts. Based on archival research and ethnographic fieldwork, this article explores the interweaving of fight-dancing with the history, growth, and post-colonial expression of regional festivals.

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DOI 10.18573/J.2016.10065

Citation

Mason, Paul H. 2016. ‘Fight- Dancing and the Festival: Tabuik in Pariaman, Indonesia and Iemanjá in Salvador Da Bahia, Brazil’, Martial Arts Studies 2, 71-90.

Contributor

Paul H. Mason completed his PhD in cultural anthropology at Macquarie University (2012) under the supervision of Professors Greg Downey and John Sutton. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork with arts communities in Indonesia and Brazil, religious minorities in India and Brazil, and tuberculosis patients in Australia and Vietnam. With support from Macquarie International, the National Department of Education in Indonesia, and the Australia Netherlands Research Collaboration, he has also conducted archival research in Australia, Brazil, Holland, and Indonesia. His research on martial arts has been published in Global Ethnographic, Cultures-Kairós, and Inside Indonesia, and he recently coedited The Fighting Art of Pencak Silat and its Music with Dr Uwe Paetzold (Robert Schumann University of Music, Düsseldorf), published as part of Brill’s Southeast Asian Library Series.

Book Review: Kendo – Culture of the Sword

Kendo: Culture of the Sword
by Alexander C. Bennett
University of California Press, 2015
272 pages, $32.95/£24.95

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DOI 10.18573/J.2016.10069

Reviewer

Dr. Andrea Molle holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Milan. Between 2006 and 2008 he conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork on Japanese Martial Arts in Nagoya, Osaka, and Tokyo. He is the founder and lead scientist of BUDO-lab, an interdisciplinary research group at Chapman University that focus on the study of combative behavior and martial arts practice.

The Seven Forms of Lightsaber Combat

Abstract

Martial arts studies has entered a period of rapid conceptual development. Yet relatively few works have attempted to define the ‘martial arts’, our signature concept. This article evaluates a number of approaches to the problem by asking whether ‘lightsaber combat’ is a martial art. Inspired by a successful film franchise, these increasingly popular practices combine elements of historical swordsmanship, modern combat sports, stage choreography and a fictional worldview to ‘recreate’ the fighting methods of Jedi and Sith warriors. The rise of such hyper-real fighting systems may force us to reconsider a number of questions. What is the link between ‘authentic’ martial arts and history? Can an activity be a martial art even if its students and teachers do not claim it as such? Is our current body of theory capable of exploring the rise of hyper-real practices? Most importantly, what sort of theoretical work do we expect from our definition of the ‘martial arts’?

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10.18573/J.2016.10067

 

Citation

Judkins, Benjamin N. 2016. ‘The Seven Forms of Lightsaber Combat: Hyper- reality and the Invention of the Martial Arts’, Martial Arts Studies 2, 6-22.

Contributor

Benjamin N. Judkins is co-editor of the journal Martial Arts Studies. With Jon Nielson he is co-author of The Creation of Wing Chun: A Social History of the Southern Chinese Martial Arts (SUNY, 2015). He is also author of the long-running martial arts studies blog, Kung Fu Tea: Martial Arts History, Wing Chun and Chinese Martial Studies.

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