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Martial Arts in Fiction

by Nina Thompson

A few of Nina's recommendations

With all the time I haven't been commuting this year, I've been reading. And of course, I want to read about other women martial artists. I've gotten some picks from one of PAWMA's teachers. Here's a list of women we have been reading about:

  • The "Charlie Mack MoTown Mystery" series by Cheryl Head. Charlie is a PI with a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. In the last installment, Warn Me When It's Time, her team tries to solve a crime spree but reveals a racist conspiracy I can only hope is fiction.
  • The "Aud Torvingen" series by Nicola Griffith. Aud is a PI, ex-cop, and a badass. Aud uses her skills in each of the three book series. She teaches a self-defense class in #3, Always.
  • The "Mary Russell" series by Laurie R. King - in particular Dreaming of Spies, where she and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, go to Japan. They have an incredible education in the Japanese culture. She trains Jujitsu with her husband. Her martial art is not discussed much in her other appearances. 
  • The "Mercy Thompson" series by Patricia Briggs. Mercy is a brown belt and coyote shifter. This "urban fiction" with werewolves and witches is a good escape from reality. She trains in Shisei Kai Kan.
  • The "Lily Bard" series by Charlaine Harris, follows a woman with a devastating past (trigger warning) who now trains in karate. Somehow she finds trouble everywhere she goes and her martial art training serves her well.
  • The "Maji Rios" series by MB Austin. In the first thriller, Strictly Need to Know, Maji teaches at a summer self-defense camp. In the second, Running Off Radar, Rose uses training from camp to foil a kidnapping. And in the prequel, Double Down, Maji trains daily in Aikido with Erlea, the Europop star she works for as a body double.
  • Athena Protocol by Shamim Sarif. A young adult thriller about a private, all-female spy agency taking on human trafficking. The agents avoid using guns, so they fight instead.
  • The "Lily Wong" series by Tori Eldridge. Eldridge holds a fifth degree black belt in To-Shin Do ninjutsu, the martial art that Lily uses while solving crimes and defending women from violence. The series begins with The Ninja Daughter, while Lily is still living above her Chinese-American and Norwegian-American parents’ LA restaurant.

Clearly, fictionalized lives are way more fascinating than doggedly showing up for training 4 times a week and suffering through burpees, pushups, healing injuries, and negotiating the political landmines of hierarchy. Nonetheless, these are some good reads that have inspired me to keep training. I hope they do the same for you!

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