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Striking Beauty

A Philosophical Look at the Asian Martial Arts

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


The first book to focus on the intersection of Western philosophy and the Asian martial arts, Striking Beauty comparatively studies the historical and philosophical traditions of martial arts practice and their ethical value in the modern world. Expanding Western philosophy's global outlook, the book forces a theoretical reckoning with the concerns of Chinese philosophy and the aesthetic and technical dimensions of martial arts practice.

Striking Beauty explains the relationship between Asian martial arts and the Chinese philosophical traditions of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism, in addition to Sunzi's Art of War. It connects martial arts practice to the Western concepts of mind-body dualism and materialism, sports aesthetics, and the ethics of violence. The work ameliorates Western philosophy's hostility toward the body, emphasizing the pleasure of watching and engaging in martial arts, along with their beauty and the ethical problem of their violence.

From Publishers Weekly

Jun 22, 2015 – According to this fascinating, challenging treatise from McMaster University philosophy professor Allen (Vanishing into Things: Knowledge in Chinese Tradition), the uninitiated often see Asian martial arts as nothing more than a mix of sport and combat, but there is also a great deal of beauty in the discipline. Allen, himself trained in kung fu, wushu, taijiquan, wing chun, karate, and hapkido, attempts to unravel the central paradox of martial arts that they are imbued with both beauty and violence. He begins with quotes from ancient Chinese texts, tracing the growth of martial arts alongside the ideas and practices of Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. He contrasts these systems of belief with the philosophy of the ancient Greeks, in particular the mind-body divide. Allen then compares the aesthetics of martial arts to dance, drawing the distinction that dance is endotelic ("actions that contain their end in their doing"), while martial arts, originally designed for violence, can be performed without it. In his final chapter, Allen ruminates on the place of violence in civilization, asking whether it truly possesses what Yeats called "a terrible beauty," and ultimately concluding that the essential value of martial arts lies outside their function in combat. He acknowledges that his book may be more approachable for "philosophers curious about the martial arts than... martial arts practitioners seeking a philosophy of their practice." Allen's inquiry is certainly esoteric enough that outsiders will be unlikely to fully appreciate it.
Striking Beauty
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  • $34.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Sports & Outdoors
  • Published: Aug 04, 2015
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Seller: Perseus Books, LLC
  • Print Length: 272 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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