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

Author:

Benjamin N. Judkins

US
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Abstract

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’?

How to Cite: Judkins, B.N., (2016). The seven forms of lightsaber combat: hyper-reality and the invention of the martial arts. Martial Arts Studies. (2), pp.6–22. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/j.2016.10067
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Published on 16 Jun 2016.
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