New book – Women and Martial Art in Japan
by Dr Kate Sylvester, Life Member of AKR
This book, based on extensive original research, examines the practice by women in a university sport setting of kendo, the Japanese martial art which, using bamboo swords as well as protective armour, and descended from traditional swordsmanship, instils in its practitioners, besides physical skills, societal values of etiquette and resilience as well connecting them to a “traditional” outlook, which includes a gendered cultural identity. The book therefore illustrates an unexplored example of identity construction in Japan, one which legitimises women’s sport experiences within a male-centric physical culture, unpacks the notion of “tradition” in kendo and unravels its stultifying control over women’s kendo participation, and discusses the androgenicity of women’s participation to highlight its subversive potential to develop women as leaders in sport, politics, and other fields which continue to be very male dominated in Japan.
The book acknowledges the AKR and is an important resource book for both the general and the academic audiences.