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.

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.

Martial Arts as Kulturwissenschaft

Abstract

This essay by Sixt Wetzler deals with some of the key theoretical issues of martial arts studies: the definition of martial arts, the possible objects of research, adequate methods, and the search for an applicable theoretical framework. After a very short introduction to the German-speaking martial arts studies (from whence the following ideas derive), the differences between Anglophone cultural studies and German Kulturwissenschaften will be briefly shown. The text will then discuss the problem of normative/ object-language arguments in martial arts studies, and follow with a critical assessment of terminological distinctions between terms like ‘martial arts’, ‘combat sports’, etc.

As an alternative, a very wide working definition of martial arts will be proposed, as well as five dimensions of meaning ascribed to martial arts practice, which can help analyzing any given martial arts style. In a next step, the various actualizations of martial arts, from body images to cultural contexts, will be grouped into classes of phenomena. Then, Itamar Even-Zohar’s polysystem theory (devised for the study of literature) will be introduced and its applicability to martial arts studies demonstrated. Finally, a short discussion will highlight the method of scientific comparison.

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DOI 10.18573/j.2016.10016

Citation

Wetzler, Sixt. 2015. ‘Martial Arts Studies as Kulturwissenschaft: A Possible Theoretical Framework’, Martial Arts Studies 1, 20-33

Contributor

Sixt Wetzler studied religious studies, Scandinavian literature, and medieval history at the universities of Tübingen, Reykjavík, and Freiburg. He is currently finishing his PhD on ‘The Martial Arts of Medieval Iceland: Literary representation and historical form’. Wetzler is a member of the board of spokesmen of the commission Kampfkunst und Kampfsport (Martial Arts and Combat Sports) in the dvs (German Association for Sports Sciences) and works as curator for Deutsches Klingenmuseum (German Blade Museum) in Solingen, with a focus on the European fencing tradition. His research interests lie on the comparative study of martial arts as an anthropological constant, European martial arts, and blade fighting systems in general. Wetzler has published several articles on martial arts related issues, and is among the highest ranked European practitioners of Pekiti Tirsia Kali, a Filipino martial art.

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