Solo, the latest addition to the Star Wars franchise, opens around the country tonight. As such, it is only fitting that I share with readers of Kung Fu Tea my latest article, co-authored with Chad Eisner. This piece was just published on the Kung Fu Tai Chi magazine webpage. I was quite happy with the way the essay and accompanying photographs turned out, and I believe that this meditation has something to offer traditional martial artists and Star Wars fans alike. Chad and I would like to thank Gene Ching, the Publisher of Kung Fu Tai Chi, for his support and willingness to expand the scope of our exploration of the martial arts.
On a more personal note I also owe Gene thanks as this essay accomplishes a longstanding goal. I vividly remember rushing to the local convience stores as a middle school student in the 1980s, eager to buy the latest editions of whatever martial arts magazines I could find on the news stands. As we noted in our recent roundtable, the publishing industry has changed a lot since then. For better or worse those periodicals transported me, if only for a few hours, out of my small town and into a larger world. Publishing books with academic presses and placing articles in scholarly journals has been great. But if I am honest I have to admit that it is thrilling to see my name in a publication that both has a wider reach, and one with an ability to transport me back to a time when the martial arts were still a beckoning undiscovered country.
LIGHTSABER COMBAT AND THE VALUE OF MYTH IN THE MARTIAL ARTS
by Dr. Benjamin Judkins and Chad Eisner
Martial artists love their myths, and so do Star Wars fans. After completing a major study of the Southern Chinese martial arts, I recently found myself thinking about the functions that myths, legends and stories play in our experience of the martial arts. Many Kung Fu students in the West are well-versed in the legend of the burning of the Shaolin Temple. But how does a narrative such as this really contribute to our practice of the martial arts? And how do these stories sometimes inspire individuals to do incredible things?
For better or worse, most Kung Fu students seem to accept the historical legends that surround their practice at face value. Practitioners of lightsaber combat have no such luxury. They are acutely aware that their favored weapons do not (and cannot) exist. So how does one’s experience of a martial art change when everyone accepts that the founding stories really are myths? And what can we learn about the martial arts in general by examining the creation of a newly emerging discipline?….Click here to read more at Kung Fu Tai Chi magazine!…