By Yossi Sheriff

A Greek hoplite, armed with spear and shield

Hoplology (הופלולוגיה) is a fairly recent field of study that relates to human combative behavior and performance.

The word hoplology is derived from the Greek hoplos (a mythical plate-armored animal) and hoplite, the term for the classical Greek warrior. The word was first coined by the explorer and linguist - Richard Francis Burton, in the 19th century, but it was not until the 1960s that hoplology began to form itself into an academic field of study under the initiation and guidance of Donn F. Draeger.

Draeger, drawing upon years of personal research and hands-on experience with several classical fighting systems, defined hoplology by the 1970s as: "the study of the basis, patterns, relationships, and significances of combative behavior at all levels of social complexity." (Draeger 1982)

While hoplology is still in its infancy, it gaining grounds as an accepted area of study by scholars in several related disciplines such as combative psychology, anthropology, and military history.


  • Draeger, Donn F. (1979). An Introduction to Hoplology: Part I of II, Hoplos 1:1
  • Draeger, Donn F. (1979). An Introduction to Hoplology: Part II of II, Hoplos 1:2
  • Draeger, Donn F. (1982). The Hoplological Glossary, Hoplos 4:1