Volkerkunde by F.Ratzel.Printed in Germany,1890. This 19th century illustration shows a number of interesting Japanese and Chinese arms including hudiedao.
Volkerkunde by F.Ratzel.Printed in Germany,1890. This 19th century illustration shows a number of interesting Japanese and Chinese arms including hudiedao.


Three Critical Questions

The inaugural issue of Martial Arts Studies, a new interdisciplinary peer reviewed journal edited by Paul Bowman and myself, will be released very shortly.  In fact, I have it on good authority that it will go live on Monday morning.

Whether you are interested in history, anthropology, cultural studies or martial arts cinema, you are sure to find something within this first issue.  It features a number of articles, both empirical and theoretical in nature, by some very talented scholars who have generously agreed to share their research with us.  It also has a substantial review article as well as a number of discussions of recently released books that may be of interest to students of martial arts studies.  The journal’s homepage is even getting a slick new update as we speak.

Many exciting things are currently developing within the field of martial arts studies and it is our hope that this journal will provide a forum in which students can discover the very best research that is being produced.  Working in partnership with Cardiff University Press, Martial Arts Studies is being distributed as a true “open access” journal.  Any individual with an internet connection will be free to read, download, share or print articles free of charge.  Nor will we ever charge authors a fee for publishing their work with us.

I know that for myself it will be a long wait until Monday morning.  So what better way to pass the time than by doing a little reading in preparation for the upcoming release.  After all, what we have read in the past enhances our understanding of works that we will encounter in the future.

Or maybe you find yourself asking one of the following questions.  What on earth do the martial arts (which strive to be practical) have to do with academic research in the first place?  If I am not a professional scholar, how can I recognize good research on the martial arts?  What sorts of things should I be looking for?  Or alternatively, if you are already an academic researcher, what sort of contribution could a better understanding of these fighting systems actually make to theoretically substantively discussions?  Sure they are interesting, but so what?

Giving some thought to each of these questions will be a great way to pass the hours until Monday morning.  It may also help to ease yourself into some of the coming discussions that you may encounter.  So here are three recommended essays, each of which attempts to address one of the previous questions.  Find the one that is right for you, or just read all three!


A) How can I recognize good scholarship within the field of martial arts studies even if I am not a researcher myself?

-Check out: Writing (and Reading) Better Martial Arts History in Four Easy Steps  or, for an example of a nice historical argument, see: Invulnerability in the Chinese Martial Arts: Meir Shahar on the Origins of the “Iron-Cloth Shirt” and “Golden-Bell Armor”


B) What do the martial arts have to do with academics?  And more importantly, what could universities actually do for the traditional martial arts?

-For a comprehensive answer to that question (and a fantastic review of the current state of the literature) see: Will Universities Save the Traditional Asian Martial Arts?


C) Sure it all sounds interesting, but so what?

-This is how I think about that problem: Martial Arts Studies: Answering the “So what?” question


Good luck with the homework.  And check back here Monday morning to find your first issue of Martial Arts Studies.