At its most basic, a white paper takes a complex problem and offers a solution. While calling any martial arts document a white paper is unusual — perhaps even presumptuous — this document fulfills the white paper’s basic purpose. It presents a very specific problem and suggests an optional path.
Martial arts is in a strange place right now. But look at the most mundane of activities: shopping, driving, watching TV, reading books, and communicating, all of which have been radically transformed. This is clearly a time of flux in all areas. Yet these transformations haven’t erased the old ways of doing things. Far from it! Instead, we’re living witness to the confluence of old and new, and no one can foresee where it will all lead.
Martial arts has not been immune to these changes. Traditional martial arts have been thrust into modernity, and the argument about traditional vs. modern martial arts is not so different from the arguments about real books versus digital ones. The turbulence in martial arts is really no different than the often unsettling changes we are experiencing in our everyday lives.
This martial arts white paper assesses the current state of the martial arts world, along with some of the challenges and proposed solutions. In no way is this meant to be the final say on the matter. I hope it stimulates thoughtfulness and even dissent. But most importantly, I hope it stimulates discussion and action.
Writing this document has certainly affected how I think about my own approaches to teaching and learning, and I hope it has the same effect on others.
Head Instructor, Muzosa Bujinkan Dojo