We are happy to announce that the Summer 2021 issue of the interdisciplinary journal Martial Arts Studies has been released and is now available for free download. Click here to see a complete list of articles. The 11th issue of MAS aptly illustrates the vibrant state of our field and includes several important and timely pieces. It features eight research articles, a book review and an opening editorial by Lauren Miller Griffith, who has graciously agreed to join the Martial Arts Studies team as Co-Editor. We are also pleased to welcome Wayne Wong as Editorial Assistant.

Be sure to check out the latest discussion of the journal on the Martial Arts Studies Podcast, now available at Youtube, PodBean, iTunes, TuneIn and Spotify!



Issue 11: Martial Arts Studies



Opening Editorial: Seeking a New Normal

As vaccines become more readily available and more people worldwide begin resuming ‘normal’ activities, it is a good time to reflect on the taken-for-granted aspects of ‘normal’ life. Martial arts communities are not exempt from the racism, discrimination, and inequalities that have long plagued social life. This is a good time to challenge the practices that contribute to such injustices. It is also a good time to think about what aspects of life under lockdown might be worth carrying into the future. Facing this pandemic has given rise to many innovations and acts of compassion that are worth continuing.



Martial Arts in the Pandemic by Meyer, Molle, Judkins and Bowman

This study examines the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on martial arts training worldwide. A mixed-method online questionnaire consisting of 28 items was used as a survey instrument. 306 martial artists responded. These were mainly from the United Kingdom, the USA, Germany, Italy and Japan. The questionnaire focused on pragmatic adaptations of training volume, training rhythm, training location, training mode (individual or group) and training methods. The survey sought to gain insights into modifications that martial artists made as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic in relation to their training, curriculum, alternative fitness, strength and health activities, as well as training goals. The results suggest that the training restrictions implemented by governments in order to try to combat the pandemic transformed the practice of martial arts on a massive and fundamental scale. Specifically, they led to two seemingly opposing developments: increasing digitisation and an increased focus on the importance of embodiment. The article concludes with a suggestion that these lines of development will mould the post-pandemic landscape of martial arts.



Maintaining Close Contact from a Distance: Digital Aikido Training under Covid-19 Conditions – Reflections and Lessons from an Online Martial Arts Course by Kantzara and Loos

This work explores, reports, and reflects on the teaching and learning aspects of online courses in aikido, a peaceful martial art, under COVID-19 lockdown conditions in Greece. The essay is based on research and auto-ethnographic accounts of the digital courses the authors of this text have set up as teachers of aikido during the pandemic. There is little research on pedagogic and didactic issues of designing online courses in martial arts or on outcomes of digital learning. Thus, the present text aims to explicate the theoretical background drawn from different scientific disciplines in designing an online course in a martial art. This course attempted to meet the challenge of teaching online an art that ‘normally’ is taught face to face, entailing physical practice in pairs. The essay explores and reflects also on the outcome of online learning under pandemic conditions. These are mostly social in nature, for the lessons and the contact strengthened the members in many ways. Thus, the ramifications of online teaching and learning are far reaching as they affect the participants and their families helping them to maintain a sense of wellbeing or normality under trying conditions. The social aspect of teaching a martial art online showcases its changing nature as well as its potential and possibilities for contributing to social cohesion, in the face of the grave dangers the current pandemic poses for humanity. It is an aspect of martial arts that could be taken into account when discussing their future in society.



Distress Tolerance Imagery Training by Hiskey and Clapton

Martial artists often use imagery training, both for technical skill development and for managing the self and others in conflict situations. There appears, however, to be no consistent method of imaging work employed to help develop such skills. We therefore present the PETTLEP approach – Physical, Environment, Task, Timing, Learning, Emotion, Perspective – drawn from the field of sports psychology, as a unifying theoretical framework for dynamic imagery interventions and propose a novel protocol for distress tolerance imagery work to help train martial artists in coping with stressful/conflict events. Such tools have a range of values and may be particularly important during periods when face to face, hands-on, or simulation drill training as part of martial arts practise may be impractical, such as during the COVID-19 crisis.



Mexican capoeira is not diasporic! – On glocalization, migration and the North-South divide by David Sebastian Contreras Islas

This paper contributes to the understanding of martial arts globalization processes. It focuses on the development of capoeira in Mexico, which is presented as an example of glocalization. In contrast to the diasporic capoeira observed by Delamont and Stephens in the UK, capoeira in Mexico is characterized by the proliferation of local groups with classes taught by Mexican instructors, as well as by advanced cultural reinterpretation. To explain these differences, capoeira is considered as the bodily capital of Brazilian migrants whose mobility patterns are influenced by the North-South divide. This paper hypothesizes that glocalization processes similar to Mexico’s might exist throughout Hispanic Latin America and other regions of the Global South. Furthermore, the diaspora-glocalization divide could be a pattern in the globalization process of practices that originated in the South which spread as part of migrants’ bodily capital. Finally, I ask how capoeira’s glocalization in Mexico might anticipate similar processes in the global North.



Fight like a girl! An investigation into female martial practices in European Fight Books from the 14th to the 20th century by Daniel Jaquet

Women appear in fight books as practitioners in the late Middle Ages. They then disappear completely, only to reappear at the dawn of the twentieth century. How are they represented therein? What discourses of gender and violence are present within the corpus of European fight books? In this article, the representation of women in the fight books of the late Middle Ages is analysed, with a focus on female martial practices in legal procedures. The absence of women (their ‘invisibilisation’) from fight books in the modern period is compensated by exploring other types of sources relating to female martial arts, including transgender fighters. The final part highlights different martial practices at the dawn of the twentieth century and the reintroduction of women onto the pages of fight books.



The influence of French gymnastics and military French boxing on the creation of modern karate (1867-1914) by Loudcher and Faurillon

The birthplace of karate is Okinawa in southern Japan. During its national integration through the military and educational action of the imperial government during the Meiji era, the basic katas (型) or “forms” (series of defence and attack movements in space epitomizing combat against opponents) called pinans (ピンアン) or the quiet way, were created by Itosu (last name 糸洲) Ankō (first name 安恒). These laid the foundations of modern karate, at the crossroads of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. France played a major role in the organisation of the Japanese army in this period. This paper analyses the extent to which France influenced this process with specific attention to the model of French gymnastics and boxing associated with the influential Joinville School of physical education.



Self-Defence with a Walking-stick: Revisited by David Brough

Primarily an aid to assist mobility (or in the case of the umbrella, to stay dry) the walking stick also has a history as an object of considerable martial value. The goal of this article is to discuss the development of the walking stick as a martial art weapon within the British Isles over the last two centuries. From before the Victorian era the Irish Blackthorn was considered by early authors to be the best stick for self-defence purposes. In the late Victorian and Edwardian period the stylish fashion accessory, the Malacca cane, was the fulcrum of the cane fighting system developed by French Master at Arms Pierre Vigny. This was assimilated into the early British fighting system of bartitsu, developed by Edward William Barton-Wright. It may be that Barton-Wright and Vigny further evolved their cane fighting style by utilising the knowledge of the Japanese jujutsu teachers Yukio Tani and Sadakazu Uyenishi who were instructors at the Bartitsu School. The walking stick persisted in the background throughout the development of jujutsu in the U.K. and further evolved with the introduction of Eastern fighting systems such as hanbo jutsu and hapkido. The last 20 years saw the bartitsu method undergo a renaissance following its rediscovery. Thus in the context of British jujutsu and self-defence, it may be considered that the walking stick has undergone several evolutions as a weapon, with each evolution reflecting distinct influences and ideals, and each one effective in the hands of the knowledgeable user.



Krav Maga: History, Representation, and Globalization of a Self-Defense System from Israel by Schaflechner

Krav maga (‘close combat’) is a ‘no-rules’ self-defense practice, which has over the last thirty years become increasingly popular in gyms, martial art dojos, and combat sports centers all over the world. My research shows how stereotypes of ‘Israeliness’ and myths of an undefeated Israel Defense Force (IDF) have become key elements of krav maga’s global promotion. The article describes how first-generation instructors react to krav maga’s global increase in popularity, a dynamic I understand as a form of ‘solidification’. This article provides a cultural studies approach mapping out the various tropes that produce krav maga as a globally recognizable signifier for self-defense.



Book Review:The Historical Sociology of Japanese Martial Arts by Raúl Sánchez García by Tetsuya Nakajima

The Historical Sociology of Japanese Martial Arts contains a comprehensive history of Japanese martial arts compiled by Spanish historical sociologist Raúl Sánchez García. However, it is not simply an overview intended to introduce Japanese martial arts to the West. In this work, the field of Japanese martial arts is used as a case study. According to Raúl, his motivation for writing the book was in that although Norbert Elias was particularly fascinated by the Japanese civilizing process, he finished his research career without turning his hand to it. Furthermore, Raúl himself has developed his own career as a researcher in the path laid down by Elias’ sociology, and this work displays Raúl’s zeal to tackle the challenges left by Elias.