Kendo club at a Japanese Agricultural School during the 1920s. Note the rifles along the back wall. Source: wikimedia.


Paul Bowman and I are happy to announce that the sixth issue of Martial Arts Studies (an imprint of Cardiff University Press) has been published and is now available. This interdisciplinary academic journal is free to read or download by any individual or institution with an internet connection. Today’s release is also a special issue, guest edited by our good friend Michael Molasky, Professor of Asian Cultural Studies in the School of International Liberal Studies at Waseda University (Tokyo).

Titled “New Research on Japanese Martial Arts,” the issue critically examines the state of the Martial Arts Studies literature in Japan. Prof. Molasky has also selected a few pieces from the global (English language) literature that compliment the theme of the journal and showcase important theoretical or methodological discussions.

On a personal note, I am very happy to see the release of this special issue as I feel the Japanese martial arts are somewhat underrepresented in the current Martial Arts Studies literature. While these were the first Asian fighting systems to spread throughout the global environment, and they set the pathway that many other traditional fighting systems would follow, there hasn’t been a lot of discussion of what is happening in Japan today. This is all the more paradoxical given the large numbers of Japanese scholars who write on these topics. A close reading of Prof. Molasky’s editorial goes some way towards explaining the current state of affairs, and we hope that this issue will be a downpayment on its betterment.

If you are looking for someplace to begin, you can find a quick overview of the issue’s themes and each article in the opening editorial. Prof. Molasky’s contribution provides an important discussion of the Japanese literature which must be considered mandatory reading.  I would recommend taking some time to digest that before going on to any of the seven research articles or two special reviews which the issue offers. It is our sincere hope that all of this represents the first step towards a more substantive engagement between the Japanese and global martial arts studies communities.




Front Matter

Opening Editorial – Paul Bowman and Benjamin Judkins

On Martial Arts Studies in Japan: A Provocation – Michael Molasky


Research Articles

The Historical Creation of Kendo’s Self-Image From 1895 to 1942 – Yasuhiro Sakaue

The Dissemination of Japanese Swordsmanship to Korea – Bok-Kyu Choi

The Acculturation of Judo in the United States During the Russo-Japanese War – Kotaro Yabu

Narrating History in the Manga ‘Judo No Rekishi – Kano Jigoro no Shogai’ (1987) – Andreas Niehaus

Japanese Martial Arts and the Sublimation of Violence -Tetsuya Nakajima

An Introduction to the Sociology of Japanese Martial Arts – Raul Sanchez Garcia

Aikido, Violence and ‘Truth in the Martial Arts’ – William Little



Denis Gainty. 2013. Martial Arts and the Body Politic in Meiji Japan. London and New York: Routledge. Reviewed by Benjamin N. Judkins.

Tetsuya NAKAJIMA. 2017. Kindai Nihon no budoron – mondai no tanjo [Discourse on Budo in Modern Japan – The Origins of the ‘Sportification of Budo’ Problem]. Tokyo: Kokusho kankokai, 2017). Reviewed by Mike Molasky.