rusq: Vol. 51 Issue 1: p. 80
Sources: Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia of History and Innovation
Craig Shufelt

Craig Shufelt, Fort McMurray Public Library, Alberta, Canada

Coming less than a decade after the publication of the first edition, this second edition of Martial Arts of the World may initially seem extraneous. Because of the increase in interest and continued research on the topic, however, this well-written set should prove a valuable source for libraries despite some organizational decisions that may lessen their appeal.

The editors of this second edition have created this set not only to provide avenues in which to convey the results of new research on the topic, but also to update many of the entries that had become outdated. It may seem unlikely to non-experts that a great deal could change regarding many topics like taekwondo, or pugilism in the UK, but it is obvious from the references included at the end of many entries that a great deal of new martial arts research has been conducted over the past decade.

Organized in two volumes, “Regions and Individual Arts,” and “Themes,” the volumes featured about 125 entries, almost all of which are extensive. Some may be only a few pages long, but many are in the 10–15 page range and there are no half-page entries to be found. While the entries may be introductory, they definitely provide a great deal of information. Further, they are written in a very straightforward manner that will be appreciated by both students and the public. Some entries may seem rather long initially, but this makes more sense when one considers that topics such as “Woman’s boxing” or “Japan: Sumo,” do not lend themselves to brief entries.

Because of the non-alphabetical arrangement of the volumes, the index is a critical tool in using this title. The editors have done an outstanding job in this regard by creating a very comprehensive index that is included in both volumes. The references affixed to the entries are excellent, including not only old and new titles but a good mix of books and periodicals. It is notable that a large number of sources from the past decade have been used in updating many entries from the original.

One drawback for the casual user of this set is that the arrangement may cause some confusion. If someone picks up either volume and flips through to find a popular martial arts topic like karate, they are going to be unsuccessful. The topic may be found easily in the index, but some students or other users may not make the leap to flipping to the back of the book. The editors consciously made the decision to move away from the alphabetical format of the first volumes to what they feel is a more logical one, but there is definitely a risk of confusion for those expecting alphabetical order.

This two-volume set may not be necessary for all libraries holding the first edition, but the number of updated entries and the relatively low price for a reference title lend credence to the argument for its purchase. This would be a good selection for academic libraries, as well as school and public libraries serving populations interested in the topic. Given the growing popularity of MMA and by extension various individual martial arts, the potential audience has grown.

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