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Weapons

This category contains 51 posts

Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Lightsaber: Fetishism and Material Culture in Martial Arts Studies

  “The lightsaber has become an important touchstone, both within the films and within our culture…They serve as a source of identification and identity.  They are the ultimate commodity: a nonexistent object whose replicas sell for hundreds of dollars.  This is not bad for something that defies the laws of physics and cannot and does … Continue reading

Reflections on the Long Pole: History, Technique and Embodiment

      A New Pole   I had been meaning to get a new “long pole” (or Luk Dim Boon Kwan) for a while.  As the name implies, these are somewhat unwieldly training tools and (unless you own a truck) they do not travel well.  In my experience most poles simply “live” in the … Continue reading

Lost Embodied Knowledge: Experimenting with Historical European Martial Arts out of Books by Daniel Jaquet

      Greetings!   If all has gone according to plan, I am now back in the United States and recovering after my recent trip to Germany.  As such, I would like to share with you another keynote addresses from this summer’s Martial Arts Studies conference in Cardiff as I work on on my … Continue reading

Through a Lens Darkly (40): Butterfly Swords and Tong Wars in North America

    The Yin and the Yang of the Hudiedao Earlier this year I had the opportunity to participate in a day-long seminar on the Wing Chun swords taught by Sifu John Crescione. This was a great experience that provided many students with an introduction to this iconic weapon. Such events, by necessity, tend to … Continue reading

Feeling the Rhythm in Lion Dancing, the Wooden Dummy and Lightsaber Combat

      A Tricky Step   Darth Nihilus* was grinning as he stripped off his fencing helmet and strode over to the open section of floor where I, and one of his more senior students, had been working on Shii-cho, the first of the seven classical forms of lightsaber combat.  He had agreed to … Continue reading

Hunting a Tiger with a Kukri

  The reader will probably notice that whatever may be their form, there is a nameless something which designates the country in which they were produced.  No matter whether the weapon has belonged to a rich or a poor man, whether it be plain wood and iron, or studded with jewels and inlaid with gold, … Continue reading

The Chinese Repeating Crossbow, Double Swords and the “Oriental Obscene”

        Introduction: J. G. Wood and the Popularization of the “Oriental Obscene.”   The following post introduces a few accounts of the Chinese (and other Asian) martial practices taken from a book first published in the United Kingdom during the 1860s.  When discussing sources such as these I find that there is … Continue reading

Through a Lens Darkly (38): A Tale of Two Swordsmen

      Introduction   In a recent post discussing the portrayal of the Asian martial arts in early 20th century Western newsreels, I called for a “media archeology” of the early imagery surrounding these fighting systems.  The following post comments upon two examples taken from my collection of vintage postcards to better illustrate how … Continue reading

Research Notes: The Chinese and Japanese Martial Arts as Seen on Western Newsreels

    “In the west, Asian martial arts are everywhere.  They are part of the texture of popular consciousness.  Nonetheless I want to argue that they remain marginal.  That is to say, although Westerners may see them often, and all over the place, they are not simply the norm.” -Paul Bowman, “the Marginal Movement of … Continue reading

Lives of Chinese Martial Artists (16): Yu Chenghui – Realizing Swordsmanship in an Era of Restoration

    Introduction: The Shadow of History   None of the short, English language, biographies of the respected martial artist and actor Yu Chenghui (1939-2015) have much to say about his struggles or activities during the Cultural Revolution.  Yet even a brief glimpse at the timeline of his career suggests that these events had a … Continue reading

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