Documentation sur les arts martiaux

Bowman, Paul. A quick overview of key martial arts studies books. Martial Art Studies, 2 April 2015. En ligne : (Consulté le 3 avril 2015)

There is a full spectrum of publication on myriad aspects of martial arts. There are also many good reviews of the literature, such as this by Douglas Wile and this by Channon and Jennings, not to mention the many regular reviews by Ben Judkins at Kung Fu Tea. In what follows, I merely aim to give an overview of some of the major works that I think really stand out.

There is a full spectrum of publication on myriad aspects of martial arts. Focusing solely on book publication, titles and publishers range from the most light and popular to the most serious and scholarly. Interestingly, there is a particularly significant amount of ‘scholarly’ but not technically ‘academic’ books published on martial arts – especially in the field of history, but also translations, commentaries on translations, manuals, histories of manuals, and commentary on manuals. In fact, there is so much highly literate and intelligent, but only technically para-academic scholarly publication that I will not be able to engage with it here. However, the existence of a broad base of intelligent publications on many aspects of martial arts by commercial publishers signifies the presence of a viable international research context of Martial Arts Studies outside the enclaves and disciplines of academia itself, a readership currently consuming the ever-growing non-academic but nevertheless scholarly titles related to this field.

There are also quite considerable numbers of articles on various aspects of martial arts being published regularly in a wide range of academic journals, but I will not engage directly with articles here. Instead, I will focus only on academic books published in the 21st century.

Douglas Farrer and John Whalen-Bridge’s collection Martial arts as embodied knowledge: Asian traditions in a transnational world (State University of New York Press, 2011) is the key text that announced ‘martial arts studies’ as a new field. Despite the many differences, I think what Farrer and Whalen-Bridge’s book undertakes is similar to what I was trying to do in both Theorizing Bruce Lee (Rodopi, 2010) and Beyond Bruce Lee (Wallflower/Columbia University Press, 2013).

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Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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