Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology

Abstract - A study of the earliest books on martial arts published in Spanish

On the basis of exhaustive searching and consultation of bibliographies and databases, this paper describes and analyses the earliest works on martial arts written in Spanish, published during the first two decades of the twentieth century. From this descriptive study, covering six complete books and sections from three others, it is possible to obtain an overview of the set of images that characterized jujutsu (the first martial art to spread to the West) as it first moved out of its homeland of Japan. These images were a consequence of a generally superficial and uninformed western point of view, and were linked to aspects such as exoticism, invincibility, elegance, its arcane character or its scientific nature as a complete gymnastic and sports system. There were, however, also more dispassionate views that saw it as just one more hand-to-hand combat skill. The lack of originality of the books considered can also be observed, since most of them are translations and/or adaptations of prior French, English or American publications.