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Editor Green (anthropology, Texas A&M Univ.) and 41 contributors have put together an introduction to nearly 100 martial arts from all over the world. The result is not a comprehensive overview, but it does give the reader a glimpse into martial arts beyond the familiar karate and kung fu. Some articles present a nation's or region's martial arts (Philippines and Africa, for example); others focus on specific martial arts, ranging from the well-known (karate, judo, fencing) to the not-so-known (silat, capoeira, kali, naginata-do) to the historical (dueling, medieval swordsmanship) to philosophical topics (religion and spiritual development, social uses of martial arts). The articles are an uneven mix of scholarly research and popular topics, and many are dryly academic. Martial arts experts will notice some errors and evidence of bias in several articles, but overall this is a useful introduction for martial arts practitioners and general readers. Libraries with a martial arts collection and larger public libraries should acquire this. Katharine L. Kan
This is a look at many unique fighting styles from around the world, encompassing not only judo and karate but also archery, dueling, stick fighting, and wrestling, among others. Topics were selected based on the following premise: "Martial arts are considered to be systems that blend the physical components of combat with strategy, philosophy, tradition or other features that distinguish them from pure physical reaction."
There are 96 articles of at least three pages each, written by academics and practitioners alike. Some entries cover specific styles, such as aikido, capoeira, and wing chun, and include history of the style, significant individuals, major components of the style, and most common levels of achievement. Other entries discuss a wide range of related topics: Chivalry; Medicine, traditional Chinese; Swordsmanship, European medieval; Wrestling and grappling: India. All entries are signed and provide cross-references and sometimes extensive bibliographies. At the end of volume 2 are a chronological history of significant events in martial arts from around 30,000 years ago to 1993 and a general bibliography listing books, theses, magazine articles, and Web sites. A detailed index rounds out the set.
The level of scholarship is high and the information is thorough. While giving a nod to martial arts in popular culture, the volumes provide a much more comprehensive approach to fighting styles than is offered by looking at films and professional wrestling. At the same time, this is not a "how-to-guide." Photographs are informative and illustrative but not instructional as to techniques.
Although the price will make this resource out of reach for some, libraries serving martial art students who are serious about their chosen styles will need to add it to their collections. RBB
Publisher: ABC-CLIO; 2 Vol. Set edition (November 14, 2001)