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Feature: Martial Arts Studies no. 7

We’re happy to announce that Martial Arts Studies issue 7 is now freely available at https://mas.cardiffuniversitypress.org/9/volume/0/issue/7/ . Martial Arts Studies is the premier scholarly source for interdisciplinary work on a variety of topics surrounding the practice, sociology, history and media representation of the modern combat sports and traditional martial arts. Published twice yearly, it presents the best research written and reviewed by leaders in the field.

This issue contains an editorial, five articles and three short reviews. The editorial starts by discussing what an “open issue,” such as this one, suggests about the current state of martial arts studies.  The editors note that issue 7 stretches the discussion of the Asian martial arts in geographic terms, and contemplates many complex interactions between physical practice and identity formation.

In their article “The creation of Wing Tsun: a German case study,” Swen Koerner, Mario S. Staller and Benjamin N. Judkins take a detailed look at the global spread of Wing Chun, a hand combat style of kung fu from Guangdong Province.

Next, Kristin Behr and Peter Kuhn examine the “Key factors in career development and transitions in German elite combat sport athletes.” The purpose of their study was to identify factors that facilitate and constrain career development and career transitions. They conclude that an athletic career is a highly complex, multi-layered and individual process.

In the third article, “Fighting gender stereotypes: women’s participation in the martial arts, physical feminism and social change“, Maya Maor explores the social conditions that facilitate gender subversive appropriation in full-contact martial arts, in terms of: 1. close and reciprocal bodily contact, 2. learning new embodiment regimes, and 3. effects of male dominance in the field.

Veronika Partikova continues the ongoing discussion of martial arts and identity formation in “Psychological collectivism in traditional martial arts.” Her paper argues that ‘traditional’ martial arts offer physical skills, moral codes, rituals, roles and hierarchical relationships which, taken together, create the perfect environment for psychological collectivism.

Tim Trausch’s paper “Martial arts and media culture in the information era: glocalization, heterotopia, hyperculture” is derived from the Editor’s Introduction to the collection Chinese martial arts and media culture: global perspectives [Rowman & Littlefield International, 2018]. It argues that recent media texts reflect and (re)produce three paradigms of martial arts and media culture in the information age: glocalization, heterotopia, and hyperculture.

In the review section of this issue, Andreas Niehaus, Leo Istas and Martin Meyer report on the 8th Conference of the German Society of Sport Science’s Committee for Martial Arts Studies, for which the theme was “Experiencing, training and thinking the body in martial arts and martial sports.” Then Spencer Bennington reflects on Udo Moening’s volume Taekwondo: from a martial art to a martial sport. Finally, Qays Stetkevych provides a candid review and close reading of the recently-published Martial arts studies reader [Rowman & Littlefield, 2018].

As always, this issue is freely available online. To find the latest calls for papers and learn more about the journal, go to http://masjournal.org.uk
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Feature: Martial Arts Studies no. 5

We are pleased to announce that Martial Arts Studies no. 5 is now available at https://mas.cardiffuniversitypress.org/6/volume/0/issue/5/. Martial Arts Studies is the premier scholarly source for interdisciplinary work on a variety of topics surrounding the practice, sociology, history and media representation of the modern combat sports and traditional martial arts. Published twice yearly, it presents the best research written and reviewed by leaders in the field.  

This issue begins with an editorial discussion, followed by five articles and three book reviews. The editorial asks how we as scholars can demonstrate to colleagues that the martial arts, and by extension martial arts studies, really matter. 
In Affective Mythologies and “The Notorious” Conor McGregor, Darren Kelsey asks what role mysticism, and the notion of the ‘monomyth’, might have played in the career of one of MMA’s most successful and famous fighters. He finds that it is probably impossible to understand this without tackling the role of mysticism, myth and ideology in popular culture. 

The second paper takes us to the kung fu schools of Singapore’s red-light district. Drawing on his extensive fieldwork in ‘Hong Shen Choy Li Fut’ kung fu, anthropologist D. S. Farrer asks searching questions about the purpose and outcome of taolu (also known as ‘sets’, ‘forms’, or ‘kata’) training in traditional Chinese martial arts. 

In the third paper, Thomas, Lugo, Channon and Spence investigate The Influence of Competitive Co-action on Kata Performance in Japanese Karate. Their paper adds to the literature on ‘social facilitation’ within competitive sports by demonstrating that co-action has a notable impact on measurable outcomes within the martial arts. 
Martin Minarik then discusses the relationship between theatrical performance, social values and the martial arts in Ideological Efficacy Before Martial Efficacy. While his basic findings are likely broadly applicable, in this paper Minarik focuses on Japanese gendai budo.

The final research article in the issue is Tales of a Tireur: Being a Savate Teacher in Contemporary Britain.  Produced by the practitioner/scholar team of Southwood and Delamont, this paper offers an ethnographic examination of the classes and career of one of the UK’s top Savate instructors.  The paper is also important as Savate (popular in France, Belgium and Eastern Europe) has been neglected in the English language martial arts studies literature. 

In the first of three book reviews, Emelyne Godfrey provides an assessment of Wendy Rouse’s recent volume Her Own Hero: The Origins of the Women’s Self-Defense Movement (New York UP, 2017). Russell Alexander Stepp brings his own medievalist background to bear in an examination of Daniel Jacquet, Karin Verelst and Timothy Dawson’s (eds.) Late Medieval and Early Modern Fightbooks (Brill, 2016). Finally Craig Owen reviews Embodying Brazil: An Ethnography of Diaspora Capoeira by Sara Delamont, Neil Stephens and Claudio Campos (Routledge, 2017). He also asks important questions about the role of video and other media sources in academic publishing.

As always, this issue is freely available at https://mas.cardiffuniversitypress.org/6/volume/0/issue/5/. Visit our webpages to learn more about the journal or to find our call for papers. https://mas.cardiffuniversitypress.org/ and http://masjournal.org.uk/

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Feature: Martial Arts Studies no. 4 – Prof Lauren Miller Griffith

In the second of our two posts showcasing articles from issue 4 of Martial Arts Studies, Lauren Miller Griffith’s article “Virtually legitimate: using disembodied media to position oneself in an embodied community” examines how comments posted on YouTube training videos are providing encouragement for new practitioners of the Brazilian martial art of capoeira.

Read the whole article at: https://mas.cardiffuniversitypress.org/articles/abstract/10.18573/j.2017.10185/

““Quebra, moça,” the master said to me as he shook me by the shoulders. Break, girl. I was too closed, too cold, and had the habitus of a ballerina rather than a capoeirista. Training in Brazil, I could see and feel how each of our bodies were being remade according to the demands of this martial art, which demands walking a careful line between using proper form and cultivating a unique personal aesthetic. I was in Brazil for academic research on how non-Brazilians gain legitimacy within local capoeira academies, and about half of the class comprised foreigners. For them, it wasn’t just face-to-face instruction that they deemed necessary for success in the genre, it was face-to-face instruction in the homeland of capoeira. But not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to do this. Although capoeira has become more common throughout the world, there are still places where aspiring students may not be able to find a teacher. And for some students who do live nearby an instructor, the potential embarrassment of trying something new in front of other people can be a barrier to participation. For both of these groups, the Internet can be a useful resource.

Because my teacher in Brazil repeatedly told us that doing capoeira properly required sentimento (feeling), which is something you can’t learn from books or videos, I expected to find that the comment sections of YouTube videos on capoeira would be full of exhortations to find a ‘real’ teacher or take a ‘real’ class. Instead, using textual analysis of comments that had been left on tutorial videos, I uncovered an interesting pattern. Aspiring or novice capoeiristas would express vulnerability regarding their ability to do a move or play capoeira at all. This was often met with a hostile or homophobic comment from someone else, who did not appear to be a capoeirista. When this happened, another commenter would identify him or herself as a community insider, diffuse the ‘trolling,’ and encourage the original poster by telling him/her that anyone can do capoeira if they work hard enough. Rather than being disparaged as an inferior learning tool, online resources are being used by some capoeiristas as a way of inviting newcomers and geographically isolated students into the embodied community.”

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Feature: Martial Arts Studies no. 4 – Prof Douglas Wile

Occasionally on this blog, we’ll be showcasing some of the fascinating articles we publish, by providing summaries written for the general public.

Here’s the first of two posts relating to issue 4 of our journal Martial Arts Studies. Written by Professor Douglas Wile, the article “Fighting words: four new document finds reignite old debates in taijiquan history” describes how recent discoveries of historical documents relating to taijiquan (tai chi) could influence the long-standing academic and political debates concerning the origins of this Chinese martial art.

Read the whole article at: https://mas.cardiffuniversitypress.org/articles/abstract/10.18573/j.2017.10184/

 

“For the millions of ordinary Chinese who stream into China’s parks and public squares every morning at sunrise, taijiquan [tai chi] is an essential health practice and social ritual. For Chinese intellectuals, the art is an iconic intangible cultural heritage and a flashpoint between traditionalists and modernists in the century-old culture war for the soul of China, that plays out in the midst of a national identity crisis. The key bone of contention is the origins of the art, with traditionalists tracing the creation to Zhang Sanfeng, a mythological Daoist immortal, and modernizers focusing on Chen Wangting, a seventeenth-century local militia leader in Chen Village, Henan Province. The latter version, first advanced by pioneering martial arts historian Tang Hao, has received official state endorsement. The two camps are divided over interpretation of a slim body of highly inconclusive evidence preserved in the style lineages of the Chen, Yang, Wu (Yuxiang), Wu (Jianquan), and Sun families.

The new document finds, consisting of form manuals, theoretical texts and genealogies, discovered by the Li family of Tang Village, the Wang family of Wangbao Village, the Liu family of Zhaobao Town, and the Wang family of Shanxi, would be the earliest versions of the “classics” by two centuries, shift the birthplace from the Wudang Temple or Chen Village to the Thousand Year Temple, and introduce a whole new cast of characters as creators. If authentic, the documents not only force a revision of history, but strengthen the hands of traditionalists, who take comfort in the Daoist connections, and support modernizers in the confirmation of a role for Chen Wangting. With various “birthplaces” vying for market share in the Chinese domestic, and increasingly globalized, martial arts marketplace, new documents are used to buttress claims of authenticity on the basis of antiquity and originality, while in academic circles, scholars use the new evidence to challenge party line orthodoxy and press demands for academic freedom.”

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