Huey with sword

I’ve been thinking about the adoption of the martial arts in Western culture for a while. However, it’s really been on the front of my brain since this spring when watching The Boondocks. I had noticed it right from the title sequence where Huey is brandishing a sword. In particular I was really blown away by the action sequence in theĀ  episode “Let’s Nab Oprah” (s01e11), where Huey is starts off his fight against Riley with what appears to be a katana. I was shocked by how dynamic the animation was an how they used a camera really effectively to give the fight a “live” feel.

I started to think about this sequence again after starting to watch Samurai Champloo late at night before falling asleep. The way Samurai Champloo merges of hip hop culture with Edo period Japan has started me thinking about how African American culture has engaged with the martial arts and how Asian cultures have engaged with hip hop. I’m going to start researching how aspect of these two culture that have traditionally been thought of as separate or distanced have merged in a fascinating and wide-sweeping manner.

I guess the reason I’m so interested by this is that it appears both cultures are cool with it and I’d like to look at how that’s happened and how representations of each have changed over time. My mind immediately jumps to thoughts of the Wu-Tang, Hot Potato and “Samurai” Mike Singletary. However, can’t help but think that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bruce Lee’s fight in Game of Death has something to do with it. So that’s my plan and this is where I’m going to gather my research. First up is the general adoption of the martial arts in Western Culture and what responses were in different countries as knowledge of Asian fighting styles started to spread. For example, I can’t wait to find out when where the martial arts first started to be taught in military academies and how those students first responded. And also to begin considering the introduction of western music to Asian cultures and how that either meshed or conflicted with traditional styles.

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