Martial Arts

Philosophy and the Martial Arts (Routledge)

In both western and eastern traditions, philosophers have long treated the martial arts as pursuits worthy of philosophical reflection. Edited by Graham Priest and Damon Young, this is the first substantial academic book to lay out the philosophical terrain within the study and understanding of the martial arts and to explore the significance of this fascinating subject for contemporary philosophy.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section concerns what philosophical reflection can teach us about the martial arts, and especially the nature and value of its practice. The second section deals with the other direction of the dialectical interplay between philosophy and the martial arts: how the martial arts can inform philosophical issues important in their own right. Finally, because many of the notable martial arts are of Asian origin, there are particularly close links between the arts and Asian philosophies – and Buddhism in particular – and therefore the last section is devoted to this topic.

The essays in this collection deal with a wide range of philosophical issues: normative ethics, meta-ethics, aesthetics, phenomenology, the philosophy of mind, Ancient Greek and Buddhist thought. By demonstrating the very real nature of the engagement between the martial arts and philosophy, this book is essential reading for any serious student or scholar with an interest in the martial arts, Eastern philosophy, the philosophy of sport, or the study of physical culture.

Martial Arts and Philosophy: Beating and Nothingness (Open Court)

“Often funny, frequently informative and highly educational.” — Blitz


Martial Arts and Philosophy: Beating
and Nothingness (2010)
The beginnings of philosophy were martial. Plato was a wrestler as a youth, and recommended grappling in his dialogues. If philosophy and the fighting arts have parted ways in the last two and a half thousand years, they still complement one another brilliantly.

Edited by Damon Young and Graham Priest, Martial Arts and Philosophy uses the martial arts as an introduction to important philosophical ideas, schools and debates, and uses philosophy to analyse the fighting arts.

Tackling philosophical topics like morality, the nature of knowledge and thought, and beauty, it is a lively, easy-to-read introduction to the life of the mind. But it also reveals some of the traditions, principles, blindspots and virtues of the martial arts.

Written by scholars with a background in the martial arts, the collection has essays from Karateka, Judoka, Aikidoka, Kung Fu adepts, mixed martial artists, boxers, fencers and even a Western swordsman in chainmail and armour.

For anyone who's ever philosophised with a hammerfist, or professed 'I fight therefore I am', this is for you.
“Recommended reading for all thinking martial artists.” — Kyle Noke, Ultimate Fighting Championship competitor
“Often funny, frequently informative and highly educational.” — Mike Clarke, Blitz magazine
"This book... aims to bring high quality philosophy to the general reader, which it does well." — Robert Anderson, Australasian Journal of Philosophy
"A fine survey covering the philosophical undercurrents of martial arts training and competition." — Midwest Book Review
"If anyone doubts that the business of two people kicking each other in the teeth can be an art sustained by a philosophy, they should make sure that they read this extremely thought provoking book.” — Mark Law, author of Falling Hard: A Journey Into the World of Judo
"A unique, refreshing, no-holds-barred expression of the spirit underlying true martial arts training." - Sensei Stan Schmidt, author of Spirit of the Empty Hand

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