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The seven forms of lightsaber combat: hyper-reality and the invention of the martial arts

Judkins, Benjamin N. 2016. The seven forms of lightsaber combat: hyper-reality and the invention of the martial arts. Martial Arts Studies (2) , pp. 6-22. 10.18573/j.2016.10067

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Martial arts studies has entered a period of rapid conceptual development. Yet relatively few works have attempted to define the ‘martial arts’, our signature concept. This article evaluates a number of approaches to the problem by asking whether ‘lightsaber combat’ is a martial art. Inspired by a successful film franchise, these increasingly popular practices combine elements of historical swordsmanship, modern combat sports, stage choreography and a fictional worldview to ‘recreate’ the fighting methods of Jedi and Sith warriors. The rise of such hyper-real fighting systems may force us to reconsider a number of questions. What is the link between ‘authentic’ martial arts and history? Can an activity be a martial art even if its students and teachers do not claim it as such? Is our current body of theory capable of exploring the rise of hyper-real practices? Most importantly, what sort of theoretical work do we expect from our definition of the ‘martial arts’?

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GT Manners and customs
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
U Military Science > U Military Science (General)
Publisher: Cardiff University Press
ISSN: 2057-5696
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 June 2016
Date of Acceptance: 21 May 2016
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2018 15:13

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