It’s been a while!


[Paul Bowman and I were recently chatting about important developments in the Martial Arts Studies community and we decided that it would be good to share some of this information on Kung Fu Tea, as well as on his Martial Arts Studies blog.  I have reposted his announcements below, and added a few of my own comments in brackets along the way.  Of course there is always a lot going on behind the scenes and in other corners of the Martial Arts Studies community (particularly in Germany and various places in Asia).  So if readers are aware of any development that they would like to bring to our attention just let us know in the comments below.  Lets get on to the announcements!]

Paul: It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on things as they look from my corner of the world of Martial Arts Studies, so here is a quick update.

Firstly, it’s an ongoing delight that Cardiff University awarded our own Meaghan Morris an honorary visiting professorship in acknowledgement of her commitment to our annual martial arts studies conferences and her support for our ongoing publications.

Meaghan’s first official visit in this capacity will be to this coming July’s conference, which focuses on Bruce Lee’s cultural legacies. (There is a short film of me saying a few words about it here. One of Meaghan’s keynotes is available online on our Martial Arts Studies YouTube Channel, here.)


[This is both an exciting and important announcement.  First, it highlights the greater visibility of Martial Arts Studies within the broader academic community.  And the naming of these sorts of visiting professors is an important step along the way to “institutionalizing” the gains that we have made within the University.  Of course that was one of the topics of conversation at our last set of meetings in Cardiff.  On a more practical level we all look forward to hearing Meaghan’s future contributions to the theoretical development of the field, particularly as it relates to its intersection with cultural studies.  And some of that is going to start in one of the books discussed below.]

A quick word on this year’s conference: We are still accepting proposals for 20 minute papers on the theme of Bruce Lee’s cultural legacies. The conference is 11-12 July. Check out the details here.

[This is critical.  Now is the time to start thinking about your proposals for this summer’s MAS conference.  Lee is an interesting hook as he symbolically transcends and connects so many areas of our modern experience of the martial arts.  In fact, I recently used Lee’s relationship with his teachers as a jumping off point for a broader discussion of the paradoxes involving “tradition” and “creation” within the Chinese Martial Arts.  Of course I had a little help from Harold Bloom. Once again, I am looking forward to seeing a wide range of papers at this years conference.]

In other news, I am really pleased to report that I have recently secured a grant that will pay for a research assistant to help me research the UK’s martial arts industries. No one seems to have done this kind of research before. People tend to try to count the number of clubs of this or that style as a way to glean insights into the contours of martial arts culture in a country. But this project looks at what publications, programmes, companies and so on have grown up around martial arts practice.

This research will take place from June to August this summer, and should form the foundation for further research and insight into the wider world of martial arts-related activities in the UK.

This small grant could possibly be followed up by a larger grant I applied for a while ago which would help me to carry out further research into martial arts-related cultural activity, in film, TV, journalism, publication and popular culture in the UK.

It would also to help fund several specific themed events (conferences and workshops) over the coming two years. Everything is crossed that this comes together, but I won’t find out until a few months’ time.


[Congratulations!  Too many of our discussions speak about “globalization” or “transmission to the West” in overly broad terms.  There is a real need for this sort of detailed work that focuses on developments in a single state or even region.  The modern “localization” of the Asian martial arts is just as striking as their global spread.]

In publications, the Martial Arts Studies Book Series has two exciting titles slated for publication in the coming months.

The first is a collection edited by Tim Trausch: Chinese Martial Arts and Media Culture. The second is my own edited collection, The Martial Arts Studies Reader.

This cover image is only a first draft. The designers need to add the words ‘edited by’ close to my name somewhere!

Both publications are extremely timely and will be welcomed by a wide readership. I can’t wait to see them in print and ebook format.


[This is extremely good news.  Both volumes look very interesting.  In terms of full disclosure, I will probably have a chapter in the Martial Arts Studies Reader related to my ethnographic work with the Lightsaber Combat Community.  As such I know a bit about the progress of that project.  I was just looking over the list of contributors and titles, and I think this volume is going to be very helpful to a wide variety of readers.  Incidentally, it will also give Meaghan Morris an opportunity to display some of her Martial Arts Studies chops.  I haven’t heard as much about Trausch’s collection, even though it fall’s within my main research area.  But its emergence does signal the continued growth of interest in Chinese martial arts culture, and that is always a good thing.  With four titles in only a couple of years, the Rowman & Littlefield Martial Arts Studies book series is off to a strong start.  Looking over my calendar of new releases, 2019 is shaping up to be a great year for readers and researchers alike.]

OK, that’s enough for now. There’s plenty more to tell you about – new book series, new book projects, etc. – but I’ll save that for later.


[Some of this stuff is really interesting, so stay tuned!]

All the best,