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Wrestling, Warships and Nationalism in Japanese-American Relations


Martin J. Meyer

University of Vechta, DE
About Martin

Dr. Martin J. Meyer is a lecturer for school pedagogy and educational science at Vechta University, Germany. He is a founding member of the German Society of Sport Sciences Committee for Martial Arts Studies and the Journal of Martial Arts Research (JOMAR). In 2017, he received a scholarship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) for a research cooperation project at Kanazawa University, Japan. His main research interests are motives for martial arts participation, mundane phenomena such as hockey fights, night-time economy and prison rehabilitation programs, as well as basic research.

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The following article explains how the metaphors ‘wrestling body’ and ‘warship’ are combined, mutually reinforced and nationalistically instrumentalised in the context of sporting events. The first case study examines contentious Japanese public discussions of the possible promotion of American wrestlers to the highest rank in professional sumō. The following case explores the staging of an American actor dressed as a Japanese sumō wrestler for the purposes of patriotic dramatization in North American pro wrestling. Both incidents have metaphorical and temporal parallels which reached their respective symbolic climax in 1993.

How to Cite: Meyer, M.J., 2020. Wrestling, Warships and Nationalism in Japanese-American Relations. Martial Arts Studies, 10, pp.73–88. DOI:
Published on 17 Nov 2020.
Peer Reviewed


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