Quickly Christmas


I’m trying to sign off from all things for Christmas today. – ok, realistically probably tomorrow, given how much is left to do. Either way, a big part of being ‘off’ for me nowadays is being offline. So this will be the last update or post about anything until January.

I just wanted to to let you know a few things. The first is that issue three of Martial Arts Studies was slightly delayed because of pressures of work (my fault), but it is now just about done and will be published in January. It is an excellent issue, with articles by Daniel Mroz, Tim Nulty, Alex Channon, Catherine Phipps, Jared Miracle, Alexander Hay, Wayne Wong, me, and book reviews by Mike Molasky, Anu Vaittinen, Alex Channon and Colin McGuire.

Second, there’s still time to submit an abstract/proposal for the July 2017 Martial Arts Studies Conference in Cardiff.

Third, another little plug: my book, Mythologies of Martial Arts is out now, in all the usual formats.

Fourth, the next event of the Martial Arts Studies Research Network will be in Bath in early May. This is going to be a small event, as it will be focusing specifically on generating and honing knowledge about the international dissemination of Japanese martial arts. Here, what we are aiming for is a small gathering of people who are actively researching this area, rather than opening it to those who are just a bit curious.

I’ll post more information about the Japanese/Bath event in the New Year. But if you think you have something to offer, let me know by email, and we can discuss it.

Finally, there’s been some write-ups of our last event, which was on mindfulness and martial arts in Huddersfield in November. Kai has written a great one over at Budo-Inochi. Check it out.

Right – that’ll be all from me. I’m sure I’ll think of loads of other things I should’ve mentioned as soon as I post this. But, hey, it’s almost holiday time.

See you next year!


Next Conference: July 2017

The third annual Martial Arts Studies Conference will take place from the afternoon of Tuesday July 11th to the evening of Thursday July 13th, 2017 at Cardiff University.

Both previous Martial Arts Studies Conferences, in 2015 and 2016, brought together over eighty academics, PhD students, scholars and researchers, from a very wide range of fields and from all over the world, for two and a half days of keynotes, special sessions, workshops and socialising. Many new relationships were formed and new collaborations initiated. Both events have clarified that the future is bright for Martial Arts Studies. The third conference in July 2017 seeks to build on these strong foundations, and to bring more martial arts studies scholars and more disciplinary perspectives together, into face to face dialogue and debate.

Confirmed Speakers include:

  • Professor Peter Lorge (Vanderbilt University), author of The Reunification of China: Peace Through War under the Song Dynasty (Cambridge, 2015), Chinese Martial Arts: From Antiquity to the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge University Press, 2012), The Asian Military Revolution: From Gunpowder to the Bomb (Cambridge University Press, 2008), and War, Politics and Society in Early Modern China (Routledge, 2005), co-editor of Chinese and Indian Warfare: From the Classical Age to 1870 (Routledge, 2014), and editor of Debating War in Chinese History (Brill, 2013), Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (The Chinese University Press, 2011), and Warfare in China to 1600 (Ashgate, 2005).


  • Professor Meaghan Morris (University of Sydney). Professor Meaghan Morris is a figure of world stature in the field of Cultural Studies. She was recently Chair of the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Society and of the international Association for Cultural Studies (ACS), 2004-08. A Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, the Hong Kong Academy of the Humanities, and a former ARC Senior Fellow, from 2000-2012 she was founding Chair Professor of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University, Hong Kong.


  • Sixt Wetzler (Deutsches Klingenmuseum – German Blade Museum, Solingen). Sixt Wetzler studied religious studies, Scandinavian literature, and medieval history at the universities of Tübingen, Reykjavík, and Freiburg. He finished his PhD on ‘The Martial Arts of Medieval Iceland: Literary representation and historical form’ in 2016. Wetzler is a member of the board of spokesmen of the commission Kampfkunst und Kampfsport (Martial Arts and Combat Sports) in the dvs (German Association for Sports Sciences). He works as curator for the Deutsches Klingenmuseum (German Blade Museum), Solingen, with a focus on the European fencing tradition and other blade fighting systems, and is among the highest ranked European practitioners of Pekiti Tirsia Kali, a Filipino martial art.


Call for Papers

In 2017 we remain open to proposals for papers on any aspect of martial arts studies. However, we are particularly keen to see proposals that seek to engage with the important debate that has recently sprung up (for instance, in the journal Martial Arts Studies) around the question of how to further the academic study of martial arts in the new field of martial arts studies.

Anyone submitting a proposal for a presentation should follow these instructions:

  • Proposals should be 200-300 words, plus a biographical note of 100 words
  • NB: Conference presentations will be 20 minutes (max)
  • The deadline for proposals is 28th February 2017
  • Email proposals to BowmanP@cardiff.ac.uk

Special Features

As in previous years, the conference will feature:

  • keynotes
  • special sessions
  • parallel sessions
  • a film competition
  • refreshments
  • lunches
  • conference dinners (optional)

In 2017, the conference will also feature workshops exploring a conceptual or methodological problem of embodiment/bodily knowledge that will then be discussed in a round-table debate.

Film Competition

The film competition has two aims: first, to help one or more students to attend, and, second, to advance the field of martial arts studies not just in written but also in audio-visual media.

Instructions: make a short five minute film on any aspect of martial arts and submit it to us. We will host the films on martial arts studies media channels and assemble a committee to judge the entries.

Winners will have free conference registration, free conference dinners and (if possible)* free conference accommodation at the Martial Arts Studies Conference from 11th to 13th July 2017.

Suggestions: You may want to document an obscure martial arts style for posterity, or give insight into a system, culture or field of practice. You may want to deal with theoretical or practical issues in martial arts studies. You may want to showcase your own research. You may want to do any number of possible things. And we are open to them all.

Just share your five minute film with us and allow us to host it open access on various platforms (e.g., YouTube and Vimeo). We’ll give you full credit as creator, of course. And you will be helping to advance the visibility and insights of martial arts studies as well as standing a chance of free registration, meals and accommodation at the Martial Arts Studies Conference in Cardiff in 2017.

The Deadline for Submissions to the film competition is 28th February 2017.

If you have any questions, contact Paul Bowman on BowmanP@cardiff.ac.uk

* We are attempting to secure flats in Cardiff University Halls of Residence for attendees. However, availability is yet to be confirmed.

George Jennings lecture on Xilam


Lecture on ‘Xilam’ by George Jennings

4-6pm, 7th November, Glamorgan Building, Cardiff University


Xilam is a recently created martial art that was invented and is led by a Mexican woman, Marisela Ugalde, in hope of inspiring pride and interest in Mexican’s ancestral and indigenous identities for future generations of practitioners from Mexico and the world at large (Jennings, 2015). It draws upon elements of native and pre-Hispanic culture and warrior philosophy that are often perceived as being dead or long forgotten, which are argued to be the foundation of Mesoamerican society: A deep, profound Mexico (México Profundo) beneath the surface of a seemingly Western nation (Jennings, 2016). It is structured according to seven animals indigenous to Mexico: The snake, the eagle, the jaguar, the monkey, the deer, the armadillo and the iguana, and each animal has its corresponding physical exercises and drills. Accompanying this systematic approach to teaching this martial art and body culture are specific physical games that enact the Mexican love of laughter, jokes and play: the blend of spontaneity and creativity known as Mexicanidad. Using the notion of play as a pedagogical strategy, practitioners of different ages, physical sizes, skill levels and gender identities actively engage with interactive and challenging games in order to acquire the embodied dispositions desired in this art form, such as agility, posture, reflexes, aggressiveness and craftiness. In this seminar, I aim to introduce how games are used to support learning and development for both adults and children in a little-known physical culture. Engaging with the theories of Henning Eichberg’s body cultures and Michael Atkinson’s post-sport physical cultures, I will illuminate data from fieldwork in Mexico City since 2011 by considering issues of space, time, movement and resistance to measurement and records. Accompanying this data analysis, my talk will be illustrated by live demonstrations and a potential participation from the audience in order to feel the sense of the games in question and encourage lively debate.

The Mindfulness Turn in Martial, Healing, and Performing Arts


This one-day symposium on Saturday 19th November 2016 at the University of Huddersfield explores the concept of mindfulness at the intersection of multiple embodied arts.

Leading scholars and practitioners will present workshops and talks engaging somatic practice, social mindfulness, experimental performance, anthropology, neuroscience, and more. Lunch and refreshments will be served. The event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is requested.

The Mindfulness Turn is hosted by the AHRC-funded Martial Arts Studies Research Network and by the Centre for Psychophysical Performance Research and the Mindfulness and Performance project at University of Huddersfield.

Register here:


Belated Update…


In the brief snatches of time that I’ve managed to forge out between catching up with everything after July’s Martial Arts Studies Conference and the start of the new teaching term, I have been working on my paper for next week’s big martial arts studies conference in Cologne.

I’ve finally finished a draft of my paper, which is called ‘What Can A Martial Body Do For Society: Or, Theory Before Definition In Martial Arts Studies’… Since I posted that version on the Academia site I have already tweaked it and changed it a bit, so I imagine it could be even more different by next Friday, when I present it.

In other news, I am slowly but surely uploading the videos of July’s Martial Arts Studies conference keynotes to our Martial Arts Studies YouTube Channel. It’s been slow going, but I’ll hopefully get the final two videos up next week.

Hopefully see some of you in Cologne next week!


Countdown to Conference 2016!


The conference is almost upon us, so here are some quick but important updates.

First things first: Food

Lunches will be provided for all during the conference, and we have two dinners scheduled – one on Tuesday 19th at ’29 Park Place’, and one on Thursday 21st at Aberdare Hall  (I have left Wednesday evening free, but I daresay some voluntary activities will be proposed neared the time.)

If you have not yet filled in the Doodle Poll to register your attendance at the conference dinners, please do so right now. Spaces are limited. Also, we need to place our orders with the University Caterers well in advance.

Note: We will be closing the registration for the Conference Dinners on Tuesday 28th June (UK time, not US time!)

Second: Movement.

One of our keynotes, Professor Adam Frank, has proposed some morning tai chi push hands sessions. I think this is a great idea. If the weather is fine, anyone interested can play in the rose garden across the road in front of Bute Building. If the weather is not fine, I will book some space inside Bute Building.

I propose an 08:30 start on Wednesday and Thursday morning. Those of you who are keener, or who went to bed earlier the night before, can of course start earlier. And anyone who has never done tai chi push hands but would like to give it a try, feel free to come along too.

Third: Films

You may recall that after our opening keynote on Tuesday, we will be moving over to a gastro-pub called 29 Park Place  where, we will be drinking, eating, and screening a few short films. Most of the film-makers themselves will be with us, which is great – so we can discuss their work with them in an informal environment.

I have started to upload the films to a YouTube playlist called ‘Conference Films 2016’ on our Martial Arts Studies YouTube Channel  Have a look, and keep checking back regularly, as I will be adding several more films to the list over the next couple of weeks.

OK, I think that’s just about all of the updates for now. Any questions – feel free to ask!

See you soon!


Dr Paul Bowman

Professor of Cultural Studies

JOMEC, Cardiff University, UK

Profile – Publications – Martial Arts Studies