Book Review: Martial Arts Studies

Martial Arts Studies:
Disrupting Disciplinary Boundaries
by Paul Bowman
Rowman and Littlefield International, 2015
208 pages, $32.95/£22.95

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DOI 10.18573/J.2015.10024

Reviewer

Adam Frank is Associate Professor of Asian Studies and Anthropology in the Norbert O. Schedler Honors College, University of Central Arkansas.

Book Review: Demonic Warfare

Demonic Warfare:

Daoism, Territorial Networks
and the History of a

Ming Novel
by Mark R.E. Meulenbeld
University of Hawaii Press, 2015
288 pages, $57/£36.43

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DOI 10.18573/J.2015.10023

Reviewer

Scott Park Phillips is a lifelong Chinese martial artist and teacher with a background in Indian and Congolese dance, ethnology, performance, and improvisation. He was a member of Orthodox Daoism in America and taught for the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Performing Arts Workshop in San Francisco.

Book Review: Jet Li

Jet Li: Chinese Masculinity and
Transnational Film Stardom
by Sabrina Yu
Edinburgh University Press, 2015
224 pages, $34.95/£19.99

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DOI 10.18573/J.2015.10022

Reviewer

Wayne Wong is a joint PhD student at the Department of Comparative Literature at The University of Hong Kong and the Film Studies Department at King’s College London.

Book Review: The Creation of Wing Chun

The Creation of Wing Chung:
A Social History of the Southern Chinese Martial Arts
by Benjamin N. Judkins and Jon Nielson
State University of New York Press, 2015
364 pages, $90/£59.29

 

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DOI 10.18573/J.2015.10021

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.

Martial Arts Between Planet Hollywood and Planet Hong Kong

Abstract

In virtually all existing scholarship on martial arts cinema, what is indicated in the invocation of such an ostensibly vast cinematic realm (temporally and culturally) is the specific and narrow martial arts cinema of Hong Kong from the 1960s to the 1980s. Scholarship has ignored, dismissed or written off many of the threads which have come together to form the unique cinematic patchwork known as martial arts cinema; even more problematically, they have all-too-easily dismissed the American thread as quasi-racist orientalist opportunism on the part of Hollywood filmmakers. Against this deeply problematic view, this essay reviews two important recent contributions to American martial arts cinema scholarship in order to highlight problems in previous work and to create space for a new position from which to better understand and appreciate the American inheritance of the martial arts.

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DOI 10.18573/J.2015.10020

Citation

Barrowman, Kyle. 2015. ‘History in the Making: Martial Arts Between Planet Hollywood and Planet Hong Kong’, Martial Arts Studies 1, 72-82

Contributor

Kyle Barrowman is the editorial assistant and book reviews editor of Martial Arts Studies. He is a PhD student in the School of Journalism, Media, and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University and his research focuses on issues of realism, aesthetics, and philosophy in martial arts cinema, particularly in the films of Bruce Lee and Steven Seagal.

The Art and Politics of Fence

Abstract

This paper by Alexander Hay seeks to demonstrate that historical fencing manuals and treatises are worthy of study not merely as historical documents but as works of both philosophy and literary merit, demonstrating, as they do, a clear ideological viewpoint as well as an engagement with the ideological and intellectual shifts of their time. The two texts chosen for this initial study, namely, George Silver’s Paradoxes of Defence (1599) and Vincentino Saviolo’s His Practise (1595), not only contrast with one another, which was Silver’s intention, but also demonstrate an engagement with humanistic and social concerns. We cannot detach these works from the literary and socio-political contexts in which they were written, nor would the authors have intended them to be.

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DOI 10.18573/J.2015.10015

 

Citation

Hay, Alexander. 2015. ‘The Art and Politics of Fence: Subtexts and Ideologies of Late 16th Century Fencing Manuals’, Martial Arts Studies 1, 60-71.

Contributor

Dr Alexander Hay is Lecturer of Digital Journalism at Southampton Solent University, and comes from an eclectic humanities background, covering everything from sea monsters to music journalism and reader response theory. His martial arts experience is similarly varied, and he is presently studying boxing, while retaining an on-going interest in Historical European Martial Arts. His research interests include the history of journalism and online media, and how they intersect with a wide range of other topics and disciplines.

Imposing the Terms of the Battle

Abstract

The trifecta of Robert W. Smith, Donn F. Draeger, and Jon Bluming formed, for a time, the core of what became the most influential group of Western practitioners of Asian martial arts in the English-speaking world. Their collective work from the 1950s through to the 1980s was central to the basis of Western martial arts folk culture, in particular with regards to the lexicon utilized even today, the nature of how performances are understood and evaluated by the group in terms of effectiveness, the availability and interpretation of the group’s repertoires, and, perhaps most important, by establishing different modes of cultural preservation that resulted in radically different approaches to the subject matter by practitioners worldwide. These men can be juxtaposed against others selling their wares in the American domestic market at the same time, but lacking the scholarly rigor of Draeger and Smith. Such capitalistic figures include one of the most colorful figures in the history of American martial arts culture, John ‘Count Dante’ Keehan. The struggle between these two groups for control of the market illustrates how textures of knowledge and objects of knowledge were often confused in the postwar period of American martial arts development.

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DOI 10.18573/J.2015.10018

Citation

Miracle, Jared. 2015. ‘Imposing the Terms of the Battle: Donn Draeger, Count Dante and the Struggle for American Martial Arts Identity’, Martial Arts Studies 1, 46-59.

Contributor

Jared Miracle holds a PhD in anthropology from Texas A&M University and is currently a lecturer in Foreign Studies at Ocean University of China. He was the first researcher to conduct work with the Robert W. Smith Martial Arts Collection. His work has appeared in open-access journals including Revista de Artes Marciales Asiaticas as well as a number of popular websites. He is a frequent public speaker on topics related to Asian martial arts, popular culture, and folk studies and is presently researching a book on the development and impact of the Pokémon franchise and coauthoring a book about Chinese cricket fighting. He is the author of Now with Kung Fu Grip! How Bodybuilders, Soldiers and a Hairdresser Reinvented Martial Arts for America (McFarland & Co., 2016).

Efficacy and Entertainment in Martial Arts Studies

Abstract

Martial anthropology offers a nomadological approach to Martial Arts Studies featuring Southern Praying Mantis, Hung Sing Choy Li Fut, Yapese stick dance, Chin Woo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and seni silat to address the infinity loop model in the anthropology of performance/performance studies which binds together efficacy and entertainment, ritual and theatre, social and aesthetic drama, concealment and revelation. The infinity loop model assumes a positive feedback loop where efficacy flows into entertainment and vice versa. The problem addressed here is what occurs when efficacy and entertainment collide? Misframing, captivation, occulturation, and false connections are related as they emerged in anthropological fieldwork settings from research into martial arts conducted since 2001, where confounded variables may result in new beliefs in the restoration of behaviour.

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10.18573/J.2015.10017

Citation

Farrer, D.S. 2015. ‘Efficacy and Entertainment in Martial Arts Studies: Anthropological Perspectives’, Martial Arts Studies 1, 46-59

Contributor

Dr. Douglas Farrer is Head of Anthropology at the University of Guam. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Guam. D. S. Farrer’s research interests include martial arts, the anthropology of performance, visual anthropology, the anthropology of the ocean, digital anthropology, and the sociology of religion. He authored Shadows of the Prophet: Martial Arts and Sufi Mysticism, and co-edited Martial Arts as Embodied Knowledge: Asian Traditions in a Transnational World. Recently Dr. Farrer compiled ‘War Magic and Warrior Religion: Cross-Cultural Investigations’ for Social Analysis. On Guam he is researching Brazilian jiu-jitsu, scuba diving, and Micronesian anthropology.

Is Martial Arts Studies an Academic Field?

Abstract

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.

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DOI 10.18573/J.2015.10015

 

Citation

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

Contributor

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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