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Thread: Scholarly books on Martial Arts

  1. #1
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    Scholarly books on Martial Arts

    I searched the archive for a similar subject, but I couldn't find anything ...

    I'm starting this thread in the hopes of building a list of scholarly books and papers on the history of martial arts (of any style), as well as groups historically associated with it. I am particularly interested in finding more books on the subject myself. Here are some of the books I currently have:

    Books

    *Chinese Archery, by Stephen Shelby

    - The authoritative book on the long history of the bow and arrow in neolithic times, dynastic combat, Confucian rituals, and religious practices.

    *Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals: A Historical Survey, by Brian Kennedy


    - Interesting history of the usage of the Chinese martial arts manual, early researchers in the subject, and prevalent legends associated with them. Some people have criticized this book because of its lack of consistent citations.

    *The Chinese Knight-Errant, by Prof. James J.Y. Liu

    - Authoritative book on the subject of the Youxia or "Chinese knight-errant, whom are historically associated with martial arts. The book covers historical knight-errants and those in poety, novels, and stage plays.

    *Green Peony and the Rise of the Chinese Martial Arts Novel, by Prof. Margaret B. Wan

    - A must have for anyone interested in the the martial arts literary genre that would later influence modern Wuxia authors and Chinese cinema. Claims the martial arts genre was influenced by three other genres: 1) Scholar-Beauty Romance; 2) Detective stories; 3) Chivalric stories (of which Water Margin and Three Kingdoms falls under). A friendly warning, though. It was a hard read due to the author's dibilitatingly dry writing style.

    *Scholar Boxer: Chang Naizhou's Theory of Internal Martial Arts and the Evolution of Taijiquan, by Marnix Wells

    - An interesting look at internal theory during the time that the Qing Dynasty had outlawed the practice of martial arts and training manuals. The author's translation is a bit odd at times, such as writing Yin/Yang as "Shady/sunny".

    *The Shaolin Monastery: History, Religion, and the Chinese Martial Arts, by Prof. Meir Shahar

    - The authoritative book on the subject. Stan Henning wrote a rebuttal that corrects a few of the points that Shahar overlooked or misinterpreted (please see his webpage below for the name of his review).

    *The Spring and Autumn of Chinese Martial Arts: 5,000 years, by Prof. Kang Gewu

    - More of a list. Good for directing further research into various areas of Chinese martial arts.

    * The Teeth and Claws of the Buddha: Monastic Warriors and Sohei in Japanese History, by Prof. Mikael S. Adolphson


    - Authoritative book on the Sohei warrior monks of Japan.

    Papers

    Anything by:

    Stanley Henning
    Meir Shahar

    I know of a couple of other books on the subject, but I haven't read them yet. I refuse to list anything by Dr. Yang Jwingming on the bases that he is notoriously bad for passing along legend as fact. The Shaolin Grandmaster's Text has been heavily criticized on this site, so it should not be mentioned either. (Unless there is a member out there that thinks it has some scholarly merit. If so, please defend your stance.)

    Please feel free to add to what I have started.
    Last edited by ghostexorcist; 02-13-2010 at 06:58 AM.

  2. #2
    Brian Kennedy will also be coming out with an encyclopedic work on Chinese martial arts history which will be basically an English equivalent of one of the greatest Chinese -language texts on the subject. Not sure when it'll be out, but I do know that it's being waited for by many...
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    Quote Originally Posted by cerebus View Post
    Brian Kennedy will also be coming out with an encyclopedic work on Chinese martial arts history which will be basically an English equivalent of one of the greatest Chinese -language texts on the subject. Not sure when it'll be out, but I do know that it's being waited for by many...
    That is good to hear. I know he is currently writing a book on Jingwu (or it might be an article for the book you mentioned).

    I think I know what Chinese book you are referring to.

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    Combat, Ritual and Performance: Anthropology of the Martial Arts by David E. Jones


    While this book is an interesting socio-cultural read, it's not really for martial artists.

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Ellner
    The martial arts, variously defined, are certainly worth scholarly examination. The editor has done his best to provide a survey of the social science literature on the subject. Unfortunately it falls a little short of the mark.
    This isn't entirely his fault. There just isn't that much in the scholarly literature on the subject. He had to go pretty far afield in subject matter and in time to fill a volume. And it shows.

    Some of the articles are interesting from a social science perspective but have absolutely nothing to do with combatives, hoplology or the like. The piece on Tanzanian dance competition, for instance, is fascinating. But the author demonstrates in the first couple pages that the practice has no martial past.

    Others, such as the first article in the book and the two articles by Donohue suffer, I fear from two common sins of anthropology. The authors ignore that which does not agree with their theses, retain a tad too much scholarly detachment when investigating exceptionally personal and transformative practices, make universal statements based on a very limited cultural milieu, and seem to have trouble taking believing that practitioners of cultural practices have insight into their own lives and experience.

    Other articles such as the ones on the Ayarrs and somatic nationalism in Indian wrestling hit the sweet spot of hoplology and social science scholarship.

    The book could have been better. But given the material the editor had to work with it is a decent effort.
    "It is the peculiar quality of a fool to perceive the faults of others and to forget his own." -Cicero

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xiao3 Meng4 View Post
    Combat, Ritual and Performance: Anthropology of the Martial Arts by David E. Jones

    [...]

    While this book is an interesting socio-cultural read, it's not really for martial artists.
    I once utilized an article from this book for a college paper.

  6. #6
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    Journal Of Asian Martial Arts has published some good articles on martial arts history.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ghostexorcist View Post

    *Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals: A Historical Survey, by Brian Kennedy


    - Interesting history of the usage of the Chinese martial arts manual, early researchers in the subject, and prevalent legends associated with them. Some people have criticized this book because of its lack of consistent citations.
    I thought this was an excellent book, and I always recommend this to people. It's does a great deal of "mythbusting", and shows how historically questionable are a lot of the stories and origin myths that are passed down about various styles. I think dispelling myths only helps CMA in the long run.
    "Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd; without innovation it is a corpse." --Sir Winston Churchill

  8. #8
    Yeah, I like Brian Kennedy's writings. He also wrote some great articles for some of the magazines as well.
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Ky-Fi View Post
    I thought this was an excellent book, and I always recommend this to people. It's does a great deal of "mythbusting", and shows how historically questionable are a lot of the stories and origin myths that are passed down about various styles. I think dispelling myths only helps CMA in the long run.
    imho, one of the most important books ever for CMA....
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  10. #10
    Brian Kennedy is a member and supporter of our White Crane Research Institute and his writings are of the highest quality. I recommend his writings to all.

    Ron Goninan
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  11. #11
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    Yep, Brian is the $hit.

    A good book about Yue Fei, the supposed progenitor of many CMA's, is a doctoral thesis called:

    *Yueh Fei and the Founding of the Southern Sung, by Prof. Edward Harold Kaplan

    I think this is the most extensive study of Yue Fei's life in English. It uses his life as an example to explain the fall of the Northern Song Dynasty and the creation of the Southern. Although it mentions no boxing, it does detail Yue's prowess with the spear and bow. Here are a couple of instances I thought were noteworthy:

    1) He ends a siege on the Han family estate (where he was serving as a military retainer and land tenant) by shooting the bandit leader through the throat with an arrow.

    2) He ventures into a bandit camp in order to get them to leave their lawless ways so they will join the battle against the Jurchen. While there, one bandit tries to accost him and he literally ***** slaps him to the ground.

    3) He enters into the thick of one battle with his bow and arrows under his left arm and an iron spear in his right hand and takes out untold Jurchen soldiers.

    The only place that you can get it is via UMI Dissertation Service: http://disexpress.umi.com/dxweb#search

    Type "Yueh Fei" in the search box. It costs $41 and is shipped unbound. I bound it myself quite easily. It is well worth the money. I passed along an extra copy to Sal.

    An excellent paper is:

    *"From Myth to Myth: The Case of Yueh Fei’s biography," by Helmut Willhelm

    This paper chips away at Yue's legendary exterior to show the flawed man within. If you've ever wanted to know what the man was really like, read it. Yue purposely cast himself after his legendary idols like Guan Yu and invited scholars to his camp so they would spread tales of his greatness. He was an alcoholic who put down the booze after almost killing a man. He was also an iron-fisted disciplinarian who would execute his men for the slightest infraction.
    Last edited by ghostexorcist; 11-12-2010 at 06:33 AM.

  12. #12
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    This book seems like a must read:

    http://www.amazon.com/Warrior-Dreams...5113502&sr=1-1

    Warrior Dreams: The Martial Arts and the American Imagination by John J. Donohue

    This is an analysis of the martial arts as socio-cultural and symbolic phenomena. As Americans search for a sense of purpose, belonging, and structure in life, they have chosen an Asian cultural tradition and changed it to suit the needs of contemporary American society. A brief historical summary of the development of martial arts in Japan sets the scene for the reinterpretation of the role of these arts by American mass media. Donohue, an anthropologist with a black belt in karate, explores the important role that the martial arts play in the American psyche. As a means of developing personal power, self-defense systems are aesthetic and spiritual practices as well as statements of urban paranoia reacting against street violence and life-threatening situations. Martial arts organizations are seen as symbolic vehicles for enmeshing participants in constellations of actions and philosophies that create a sense of self and community.

  13. #13
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    ttt for 2018!

    Hmm, how did this thread escape my attention for so long? It just popped up on a search because I wanted to post the article below, but I'll add to it later with some of the interviews, etc. I've done with some of our more scholarly authors.

    In new book, professor explores the benefits of physical play like martial arts
    Q&A with Janet O’Shea, UCLA professor of dance, about ‘Risk, Failure, Play: What Dance Reveals about Martial Arts Training’
    Sidney Kantono | September 19, 2018


    UCLA
    For Janet O’Shea, practicing martial arts has allowed her to re-connect with physical play and its benefits.

    Janet O’Shea, professor of dance at UCLA, has dedicated her life and career to the study and performance of dance. Inspired by martial artist Bruce Lee in the 1970s and armed with years of dance training, O’Shea began more recently to practice jeet kune do, the martial art that Lee created.

    In her newest book, “Risk, Failure, Play: What Dance Reveals about Martial Arts Training,” O’Shea shares insight into her training and writes about the individual and societal benefits of physical play through the martial arts. By engaging in physical play like the martial arts, people can experience mastery, understand and embrace their own vulnerabilities and learn how to be better, more cooperative and sociable members of society.

    With the book’s upcoming release, O’Shea, who teaches a Fiat Lux course on empowerment self-defense, spoke with UCLA Newsroom via email about her latest project.

    As a writer and dancer, what drew you to the martial arts?

    I grew up in the 1970s and Bruce Lee was an icon of my childhood. While I never idolized Lee, I wanted to study his system, jeet kune do, as soon as I knew it existed. It just took me a while to get to it, a time in which I studied and performed dance, trained in Wing Chun kung fu, learned to rockclimb and practiced yoga. I finally got a chance to train in jeet kune do when I learned it was offered by UCLA Recreation, a few years after I began working here in 2008.

    Although my dance experience trained me to think with the body, thereby enabling me to pick up martial arts relatively quickly, what really delighted me about martial arts was not their similarity to dance but their differences.

    In particular, I was intrigued by the physical exploration of human interaction in martial arts training, particularly in live practices such as sparring and grappling. Live training sets up an intentional and artificial disagreement between two people, which then gets worked out through physical problem solving. I was fascinated by the apparent unpredictability of sparring juxtaposed against experienced fighters’ ability to decode and intercept an opponent’s actions.

    What inspired you to write the book?

    I found myself devoting many hours a week to martial arts training, roughly the equivalent of a part-time job. As a writer, I rarely experience anything without writing about it. So I was writing free form but I didn’t have a clear shape for the book.

    I assumed I would write a martial arts memoir and noticed that most books in that genre lead up to the novice’s inaugural competition fight. Gradually, I realized that I was more interested in training than I was in fighting and I wasn’t sure if having the one (or more than one) fight would tell me something that training didn’t. But if I wasn’t training toward a goal, why was I doing this?

    This led me to the understanding that the absence of the goal, in itself, was central. Martial arts practice, for me and I suspect for many others, is intrinsically valuable. It is worthwhile in itself, not because it leads to something else. This intrinsic value, the opportunity it creates for experiencing mastery and navigating failure, its parameters of engagement and its transformation of meaning align martial arts with play. Rough, dynamic physical play is something that, for many adults, gets left by the wayside as goal-oriented activities take over. I was no exception.


    Oxford University Press

    You mention martial arts as a mix of violence and play, can you explain this intersection?

    There’s a commonplace assumption that modern combat sports (boxing, kickboxing, grappling, mixed martial arts) allow people to indulge in violence. By contrast, the assumption is that traditional martial arts transcend violence through discipline, spirituality or ritual.

    Instead of making a distinction between martial arts that transcend violence and those that deploy it, I’m suggesting that violence is both the ground of most martial arts training at the very same time that it stands in opposition to it. I started by borrowing from the UK-based public sociology project, Love Fighting Hate Violence, which distinguishes between fighting as consensual and violence as overriding consent. I draw out further differences between fighting and violence by attending to spaces of play; looking at the inversion of meaning attached to kicks, strikes and takedowns on the mat versus on the street; considering the importance of etiquette and gestures such as handshakes, fist bumps and touching gloves; and attending to how rules make the game.

    My argument is that play gives us techniques for managing difficult realities with intelligence. In the case of martial arts, that reality is human violence.

    How do you think “Risk, Failure, Play” and martial arts will benefit society?

    The United States has come to neglect physical play. We’ve outsourced physical play to experts and have relegated it to particular phases of the lifespan. We are also, paradoxically, among the most competitive people in the world: the most likely to see competition as beneficial for individuals and society, the most likely to think success reflects effort and that competition is fair. We have come to dismiss the importance of parameters of fair play in daily life and in politics. All of this has come together to allow us to accept the erosion of democratic norms and to tolerate an economic system that condemns far too many people to permanent failure.

    In delving into considerations such as vulnerability and failure, the need for intentional self-restraint and the acceptance of parameters of engagement, I hope to signal just how much competition needs to be managed for it to be beneficial rather than detrimental. So, while competition can sometimes hone focus, generate goodwill and produce pleasure, it only does so when balanced by an ethics of experience that ensures that respect, consent and cooperation matter more than outcome.

    Why is physical play such as the martial arts imperative? Are there implications for society if we neglect it?

    Physical play, when handled with intention and respect, teaches us about our own vulnerabilities and those of others. It can also, paradoxically, show us how capable we are. Physical play teaches us that it’s all right to fail at the same time that it reminds us that failure has real, and sometimes painful, consequences.

    A society that neglects play is a society that devalues cooperation and dynamic exchange; it is a society that foregoes opportunities for interpersonal interaction and for acknowledging the subjectivity of others. A society that neglects play is one that denies vulnerability and attempts to circumvent risk, thereby cultivating fear.

    It would be naïve to suggest that we can simply play our way to a more just and equitable world. Play clearly has the opportunity to backfire: it can recreate hierarchies and stimulate inequality, which are excused because it is “just play.” So I’m not simply saying that we should play; I’m saying we need to create opportunities for physical play and that we need to reflect on how we play, considering what realities our playful actions bring into being.

    What do you hope people will take away from your book?

    I’d be delighted if readers take up or renew their interest in some form of physical play, be that martial arts or another practice that encourages them to negotiate with others and examine their own abilities and limitations. But more than that, I’m hoping that readers will reflect on how, when and what we play. I’m hoping it’ll encourage readers to think about what we teach our kids through how we act at their soccer games, through what it signals to a college or a high school when a landscape centers on the football field, through what we tell ourselves when we watch professional sports but haven’t played a physical game in years.

    I’m hoping that “Risk, Failure, Play” will get readers thinking about how disparate concerns such as inadequate leisure time in a neoliberal economy, a decline of civility in the public sphere and a disavowal of failure might be connected. I hope that readers will realize that solutions to larger societal problems can be immediate, things we can enact in our daily lives. And how we just might get to have fun in the process.

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  14. #14
    I still owe you a copy Gene

    https://www.amazon.com/Chinese-Marti.../dp/1543097839

    Let me know where I can send you some copies
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  15. #15
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    Send it to my attention at KungFuMagazine.com

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    Or if this is something you'd like to submit as a sweepstakes offering for KungFuMagazine.com, you should email me first at Gene@KungFuMagazine.com.
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