Once upon a time, before taking up teaching karate and starting a family, I began a book proposal about martial arts and their effects on the lives of Americans. The working title was The Old Ways of New Masters, and I decided to focus on people from the generation born in the 70’s and 80’s, as we’re pretty much the first to have continued training from childhood through adulthood.
Even though the book project is on hold, I’d like to explore the ways in which martial arts are more than just an after-school activity for kids or an arena of competition for adults. I think the benefits of studying martial arts as a child through adulthood are being overlooked by society. People only see training as a means to an end–i.e. to keep kids busy after school or to prepare to beat the hell out of fighters in the UFC. I don’t know too many Americans that have taken my path–who have become lifelong martial artists–and I would like to seek them out, interview them, and include their insights into a thesis. I’d like to explore the pursuit of martial arts as a lifestyle and not as a sport or temporary activity. I’m also curious about how cultural traditions and values are translated and propagated by Americans who have had limited exposure to the origins of each style.
A few summers ago, I began seeking out individuals and schools that focus on teaching the “lifestyle” and how they adapt traditions and techniques to meet their needs. I obtained a few interesting interviews that I’d still like to share with you. If enough interest is generated from this blog, perhaps I’ll bring the book project back from dormancy.
Look for the first interview in the series with Matthew Apsokardu from Ikigaiway.com next week!