Kung Fu Tea

Judo at Ina Middle School. Vintage postcard circa late 1930s. Source: Author’s personal collection.

Staging a Global Controversy

Origin stories are very often political.  People everywhere intuitively understand this.  If you can pinpoint (or simply construct) the moment of something’s creation you can also attempt to socially frame its subsequent practice in all sorts of useful ways.  Rhetorical slight of hand allows us to claim that when we know about something’s past we are empowered to act as arbiters of legitimacy or authority in the present.

I suspect that this basic impulse is what first draws so many practitioners to the topic of martial arts history.  Even if the art we practice is only a hundred years old (relatively modern in the grand scheme of things), the moment of its creation is still far removed from our personal life experience. As individuals become aware of this…

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