Martial Arts Studies Workshop & Lecture, 17th July, University of Cologne, Schloss Wahn

Martial Arts & Media Culture

Workshop & Lecture, 17th of July, University of Cologne, Schloss Wahn

With a focus on tropes of East Asian martial arts in film and computer games, this event brings together scholars from the fields of Media, Cultural, Japanese, and Chinese Studies to explore how representations of martial arts have been shaped under the influence of changing technological and sociocultural dispositions in 20th and 21st century media cultures. The signs and images produced by cinematic representations of martial arts have long become an integral part of global media cultures. In the post-cinematic era, these signs are constantly being reassembled, and increasingly transcend regional, textual, generic, and media boundaries. At the same time, mediations of martial arts remain to be about embodied knowledge and fighting. While technical media are themselves disembodied, they produce multiple relations to the human body in their aesthetic design and perception. This becomes especially evident with regard to fight scenes drawing on and in turn producing notions of martial arts. In this sense, tropes of martial arts are predominantly signified through two interrelated dimensions: a collective symbolism and a (re)presentation of certain body techniques. Tracing both these dimensions, the workshop examines the continuities and fragmentations that occurred in the shifting meanings attached to “martial arts” in technical media.

Conception & Organisation: Benjamin Beil, Marc Bonner, Tim Trausch

Keynote: Paul Bowman

Moderation: Martin Roth

Discussants: Stefan Borsos, Felix T. Gregor, Andreas Rauscher

Location: Schloss Wahn, Burgallee 2, 51147 Köln, Germany. The event is free of charge. Everyone is welcome, but participants are asked to register to in advance.


14:00 – 16:00     Workshop

16:00 – 17:00     Break

17:00 – 19:00    Keynote by Paul Bowman: Mediatized Movements: Martial Artistry and Media Culture

This presentation will be structured by the relatively informal discussion of a range of clips and case studies that draw into focus key questions that arise in relation to the representation of ‘real fighting’ and ‘real martial arts’ in various contexts. Its argument proposes a complex and ineradicably supplementary relationship between lived (‘real’) practice and (‘unreal’) representation. The guiding thread of the presentation will be an exploration of the ways that ‘real’ martial arts practices attempt to deal with ‘unreal’ representations, and reciprocally the ways that various kinds of media representation attempt to measure up to – or find ways to ‘capture’ – reality. As this is research and theory in progress, the presentation will be informal, and the presenter will be happy to be interrupted by questions, interjections and observations.

Paul Bowman teaches cultural studies at Cardiff University. He is author of quite a few academic books. Those that relate specifically to martial arts and media include Martial Arts Studies (2015), Beyond Bruce Lee (2013) and Theorizing Bruce Lee (2010). In terms of martial arts scholarship, he is also founder of the journal Martial Arts Studies and also of The Martial Arts Studies Research Network.

Four Publication Possibilities


Here are four martial arts studies publication opportunities/possibilities:

1. Conference Proceedings

I have approached the Cardiff University Press Editorial Board to see whether they might be interested in publishing our 2015 Martial Arts Studies Conference proceedings. The final decision has not yet been made, and is likely to be made at the next meeting of the board. However, in order to take my proposal forward, it would be helpful if anyone interested in having their conference paper published in the conference proceedings submit it to me using the following guidelines:

  • Submit it as a word doc or docx, with the filename SURNAME_Proceedings15. So, for example, mine would become Bowman_Proceeedings15.docx
  • Make sure that it is not more than 3,000 words (plus references/bibliography). I will not accept anything longer than 3,000 words for the proceedings.
  • Deadline for submissions: 1st September 2015.

NB: Publishing your paper in the conference proceedings will not affect your right to republish it elsewhere. You are free to revise, rework, republish, as you please. The licence we will use will be the most open access possible. If you are worried about the possible future publication of your work as either a book chapter or journal article, you can either take it from me that you don’t need to worry, or you can take precautions like giving it a different title, saving your really snappy title for the journal article publication, and bearing in mind that you are likely to thoroughly revise your conference draft for journal publication, etc. But, if you want to take it from me, just look at my own site: I put virtually everything on there, as soon as I write it, and it has not impacted on my ability either to publish ‘properly’ or to publish other things. If anything, the opposite is the case: people see my work online and ask me to write things for them. That’s my sense, anyway. You decide whether you want to keep your work close or throw it out there for the world.

Info about Cardiff University Press is here:

2. Journal Article Publication

If you want to work your conference paper into a journal article and submit it to Martial Arts Studies, you can do this. You can either do this alone, or you can do it in addition to submitting it to the proceedings (see point 1, above). You can submit your article to the journal at any point, and we will send it out for peer review, and decide which issue it might be published within.

NBMartial Arts Studies publishes twice a year, and will be highly selective about what is included in each issue. All work will have to pass rigorous peer review. We are a university press journal in a pretty new interdisciplinary field, so only the highest quality work can be considered.

3. Book Series

I am also working on putting together a book series proposal. This will be a martial arts studies book series, publishing high quality research monographs and edited collections. To discuss ideas, please contact me.

4. The Invention of Martial Arts

I am still actively seeking proposals for an edited collection informed by the idea of the ‘invention of tradition’. Again, submit proposals to me or email me with ideas at any time.

Cardiff University Press:

Journal Homepage:

Facebook Group:


Research Network: