Armed combative traditions of Latin America and the Caribbean: a hoplological overview


  • Michael J. Ryan The State University of New York – Onteona



Martial arts, South America, Caribbean, Hoplology, armed combat, honor


Over the last few decades, there has been a resurgent interest in New World martial art traditions. The bulk of the attention has focused on African and African diasporic traditions. Many well-researched books and articles have resulted from this focus. Yet, there is much less interest regarding other combative modalities brought to the shores of the New World. For centuries immigrant communities have brought with them sophisticated combative systems that persist to this day. As part of a broader hoplological project, this article seeks to identify and document the diverse armed combative systems still extant and practiced in South America and the Caribbean that have not transformed into solely institutionalized sports or recreational pastimes. With few exceptions these arts continue to be taught, practiced, and used in a variety of informal situations to ensure one’s property or public reputation or as part of an economic strategy in the informal economy. At times paralleling and overlapping these more pragmatic goals, these arts also persist as a way of preserving older cultural moralities, ethics, and forms of masculinity.


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Author Biography

Michael J. Ryan, The State University of New York – Onteona

Adjunct Professor in the Africana and Latino Studies Department.

 PhD in Anthropology,

Editor in Chief of “The Immersion Review” A journal for martial comprehensivists

Author of Venezuelan Stick Fighting: The Civilizing Process in Martial Arts.  Lanham, MD: Lexington Press. 2017

Staff Anthropologist for the Immersion Labs (ILF).


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How to Cite

Ryan, M. J. (2020). Armed combative traditions of Latin America and the Caribbean: a hoplological overview. Revista de Artes Marciales Asiáticas, 15(1), 34–49.