"... Hoplology: the history of arms and armour, their connection and
their transitions, plays the most important part in the annals of
the world."
Burton, Sir Richard F. 1884 The Book of the Sword.
London: Chatto and Windus, p. 1.


The IHS exists to study the evolution and development of human combative behavior. This study encompasses the segment of human culture concerned with weapons, armor, combative accouterments and fighting systems, in regard to their technical characteristics and the ways in which they interact with the economic, political, social and religious institutions of human societies.


The IHS is an independent, not-for-profit organization. It offers its services to scholars, universities, museums, collectors, private and governmental organizations, writers and publishers around the world. Current activities of the IHS include field research trips for the collection of hoplological data, the establishment of a library facility where such data can be made available to researchers and an ongoing development of the study of hoplology. The data produced by the IHS is concentrated in the following areas:

  • Technological Hoplology
    The study of environmental factors, materials and production processes
    and their relationship to the development of weapons, armor and
    combative accouterments.
  • Functional Hoplology
    The study of the structure and organization of combative systems
    including the analysis and classification of combative systems, the
    observation of training patterns and their relationship to real and
    idealized applications and investigations into the reciprocal
    relationship between weapons and combative systems.
  • Behavioral Hoplology
    The study of the psychological and physiological factors inherent in
    man's combativeness and his development of combative capabilities
    including the variables that influence the evolution of combative
    systems. This covers the socio-cultural roles and effects of weapons
    and combative systems on the individual and collective social
    organization. This area of research includes the identification and
    description of man's belief systems and their corresponding social and
    institutional import. The analysis of expression of behavior (internal and
    external) in relation to weapons and combative[s] systems and the study
    of linguistic relationships in the evolution of combative culture are also included in this area of study.

The IHS, the society's journal, HOPLOS, the IHS Newsletter and the International Hoplological Research Center (IHRC) are under the aegis of the its Director, the IHS Board of Directors and Officers and the IHS Advisory Committee, the members of which have international prestige in hoplology, arms and armor studies, modern military and police studies, and various related academic disciplines.

Three Axioms of Hoplology

1. The foundation of human combative behavior is rooted in our evolution. To gain a realistic understanding of human combative behavior, it is necessary to have a basic grasp of its evolutionary background.

2. The two basic forms of human combative behavior are predatory and affective. Predatory combative behavior is that combative/aggressive behavior rooted in our evolution as a hunting mammal. Affective combative behavior is that aggressive/combative behavior rooted in our evolution as a group-social animal.

3. The evolution of human combative behavior and performance is integral with the use of weapons. That is, behavior and performance is intrinsically linked to and reflects the use of weapons.

IHS Board of Directors

Hunter B. Armstrong Director

Liam Keeley - Staff Hoplologist
Pat Lineberger, Ph.D. - Staff Hoplologist
Karunakaran - Asian Affairs
Mary Spears - Web and Artistic Director
Law Enforcement Liaison - Dep. Nick Nibler

IHS History

Sir Richard F. Burton (1821-1890) began to organize hoplology as a body of
knowledge with terms, concepts and a methodology uniquely its own. He
devoted much of his life to the development of another discipline through
which to view the evolutionary growth of social man and his cultural
contrivances - hoplology.

Hoplology, as an organized, academic disciple remained dormant from the
time of Sir Richard until the late 1950's when it reemerged under the
guidance of the founder of the International Hoplological Research Center,
Major Donn F Draeger (USMC Ret.) (1922-1982).

Draeger, after many years in the Pacific Basin, took up permanent residence in Japan in the mid-1950's and became thoroughly occupied with the study and practice of Japanese martial and related disciplines. Draeger gained membership to Japan's oldest cultural organization for the study and preservation of classical martial arts and ways, the Nihon Kobudo Shinkokai. Draeger founded the International Research Section (IRS) of the Nihon Kobudo Shinkokai to facilitate non-Japanese persons gaining access to study and conduct research within the Japanese martial ethos. By the early 1960's this Section had conducted an ongoing series of investigations in Japan and produced a sizable amount of data primarily relevant to Japan. Draeger soon changed the title to the International Hoplological Research Center, and modified the activities of the organization to include a more international scope. Pioneer field workers widened the scope of the organization's activities and several field expeditions were made into Australia and the Indonesian Archipelago.

By the 1970's, the organization's operations were expanded into the Greater Malay Archipelago and the broader Pacific Basin. Draeger spent considerable time at the East-West Center and the University of Hawaii Manoa, lecturing, developing professional contacts between the IHRC and scholars in various field, and performing federally funded research.

Draeger remained director of the IHRC in Tokyo until his death in l982. Since 1983, the functions of the IHRC (renamed the International Hoplology Society in 1986 and incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in Hawaii in 1992) and all of its activities have continued under Hunter B Armstrong, Director of the IHS, David A Hall, Ph.D., Coordinator of the Advisory Committee, and the members of the Board of Directors.

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