Greetings! I am still traveling for a conference on Chinese History. Unsurprisingly my paper is an attempt to introduce a new group of scholars to the joys of Martial Arts Studies. Speaking of which, have you ordered a copy of the Martial Arts Studies Reader? If you are still on the fence, or you have a copy and you are wondering where to start, check out this very nuanced review (including a brief summary and critique of each chapter) by Qays Stetkevych. He might just be able to point you to the sort of arguments you have been looking for. Enjoy!
Review: The Martial Arts Studies Reader
In order to review something of the scope of and breadth of this multidisciplinary collection of essays, it may be practical to address The Martial Arts Studies Reader first on the macro-level, and then on the micro. With that in mind, this collection does a good job of covering the field in terms of topic matter and approaches to all things martial arts. As a result of the varying backgrounds, interests, and arguments put forth by the contributors to this collection, the question of ‘what is martial arts (studies)?’ is answered (both directly and indirectly) from an array of angles. Thanks to the clever and intentional ordering of the essays, what may have come across as a disjointed collection of vaguely martial-arts-related essays instead reads in a somewhat linear fashion, with several topic-specific threads weaving between and interconnecting otherwise disparate articles. The Martial Arts Studies Reader succeeds in its goal of trying to ‘capture and convey something of the emerging constellation of martial arts studies’. With few exceptions, this collection poses an array of interesting and thought-provoking questions and central issues about the budding field of martial arts studies, and does so in a way that is generally accessible to martial artist, scholar, and layman alike. I will now go on to review the Reader on the micro-level, briefly moving through the essays in the order in which it they are presented, as a way to structure this review.