From the Dragon to the Beast: The Martial Monk and Virtual Ninja as Actual Martial Artists
University of Victoria, CA
Chris Goto-Jones is Professor in Philosophy and Dean of Humanities at the University of Victoria, where he is also Honorary Professor in Asian Studies at UBC. His work focuses on exploring what happens when you traverse the frontier of philosophy, either by crossing cultures, languages, worldviews, or mediums. Recent books include, Conjuring Asia: Magic, Orientalism, and the Making of the Modern World [Cambridge University Press, 2016] and The Virtual Ninja Manifesto: Fighting Games, Martial Arts, and Gamic Orientalism [Rowman & Littlefield International, 2016], from which this article is adapted.
Navigating between society’s moral panics about the influence of violent videogames and philosophical texts about selfcultivation in the martial arts, this extract from the monograph, The Virtual Ninja Manifesto: Fighting Games, Martial Arts, and Gamic Orientalism, asks whether the figure of the ‘virtual ninja’ can emerge as an aspirational figure in the twenty-first century, modeled on the 'event' of Bruce Lee. The work seeks to illustrate the argument that the kind of training required to master videogames approximates the kind of training described in Zen literature on the martial arts. It suggests that the shift from the actual dōjō to a digital dōjō represents only a change in the technological means of practice. It explores the possibility that, after Bruce Lee and Daigo Umehara, martial arts games can promote spiritual development.