Topic: "Martial Arts East and West: a comparative discussion"


John Donohue, Ph.D.

Abstract Keiko: Transmission, Interpretation and Appropriation
Using the perspective of cultural anthropology, this presentation examines the issue of how culturally "thick" endeavors such as the martial arts are transplanted into other cultural settings. Making specific parallels between religious ritual and martial practice, the presentation will attempt to create a nuanced appreciation of the cultural content of the martial arts as well as a sociological perspective that views reinterpretation and appropriation as inevitable by products of a living tradition.

Charles Ham

Teaching methods for the use of hand weapons during the19th century were remarkably similar in both Europe and Japan.  This paper analyzes Hungarian and Highland Broadsword by Maestro H. Angelo (Angelo 1799) and its antecedents in the cutlass training of English speaking navies, and the exercise known as Tachi Uchi no Kurai from the Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu and Muso Shinden Ryu schools of Japanese swordsmanship.  The training methods from both the English speaking tradition and the Japanese speaking tradition have several common elements; chiefly that a more experienced swordsman leads a partner through a series of hypothetical swordfights.  These hypothetical swordfights are then memorized and practiced until the responses become automatic.  These extended drills, called “lessons” or “etudes” in early 19th century English and “kata” in Japanese, formed the foundation of the training. 

Deborah Klens-Bigman, Ph.D.

This paper looks at the Flos Duellatorum, a 14th century manual of combat from Renaissance Italy, and considers several issues, including the structural similarities between the Flos and current Japanese martial arts practices, and whether a detailed manual like the Flos can be effectively used to recreate the techniques illustrated as part of a 21st century “western” martial art.