Martial Arts of the World
An Encyclopedia of History and Innovation
by Thomas A. Green and Joseph R. Svinth, Editors
June 2010, 663pp, 7x10
2 volumes, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-59884-243-2
$198, £147, 165€, A283
eBook Available: 978-1-59884-244-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Films from Hollywood to Hong Kong and such competitions as MMA and Ultimate Fighting give us vivid, if oversimplified, images of martial arts in action. But the realities of the world’s martial arts traditions—their histories, philosophies, codes of honor, and methods—are richer than any pop culture portrayal can suggest, with centuries-old combat disciplines practiced in virtually every corner of the globe.

This book is the most comprehensive and authoritative reference ever published on the wide range of martial arts disciplines practiced in cultures around the world.

ABC-CLIO’s Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia of History and Innovation is the most authoritative reference ever published on combat disciplines from around the world and across history. Coverage includes Shaolin monks, jousting knights, Roman gladiators, Westerner gunfighters, samurai warriors, and heavyweight boxers. These iconic figures and many more are featured in this title, as well as representatives of less well known but no less fascinating systems, all vividly characterized by expert contributors from around the world who are themselves martial arts practitioners.

Martial Arts of the World comprises 120 entries in two volumes. The first volume is organized geographically to explore the historic development of martial arts styles in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. The second volume looks at martial arts thematically, with coverage of belief systems, modern martial arts competitions, and a wide range of such topics as folklore, women in martial arts, martial arts and the military, and martial arts and the media.


  • Includes the scholarship of 67 expert, international contributors
  • Presents 30 images of martial arts in practice
  • Offers bibliographic lists at the end of each section pointing to further reading in print and online
  • Includes a comprehensive index in each volume
Thomas A. Green is associate professor of anthropology at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. His published works include Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art, Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia, and Martial Arts in the Modern World. He has practiced martial arts since 1972.

Joseph R. Svinth is an editor for the Electronic Journals of Martial Arts and Sciences ( His published works include Getting a Grip: Judo in the the Japanese American Communities of the Pacific Northwest, circa-1900-circa-1950 and Martial Arts in the Modern World. He has practiced martial arts since 1980.


"Martial Arts of the World is, hands down, one of the most thoroughly researched reference books ever published in this genre. . . . It should grace the bookshelves of veteran black belts and serious martial arts researchers and practitioners."—MA Success, November 1, 2010

"Containing more than 120 entries, Martial Arts of the World aims to be the most comprehensive work on the subject of martial arts. Editors Green, a professor of anthropology, and Svinth, editor of several martial arts and sciences journals, have done a noteworthy job in reaching that goal. . . . With the growing popularity of mixed martial arts fighting and the continuing presence of martial arts in Hollywood, this title could fill a gap in many library collections. . . . Scholars will find plenty here to fit their needs and spur further research." —Booklist Online, November 4, 2010

"Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers."—Choice, January 1, 2011

"The encyclopedia offers notably in-depth coverage of areas that have often been neglected in similar works, including martial arts of European, African, South American and Oceanean origins."—The Bartitsu Society, June 17, 2010
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