For the Love of Masks

I love masks. Maybe it’s the ninja in me. This cursed Coronavirus has cost me my job of the last twenty years so I’m struggling to keep looking on the bright side. And the brightest outcome is winning the right to wear a mask in public now.

The Ninja in me – circa mid 80s. Photo courtesy of Greg Lynch Jr.

However, in our Divided States of America, masks have become yet another pointless political platform, a symbolic battleground masking other deeper divisions. I’ve worn masks for years, for martial arts practice, for work, and for health, so it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around all this anti-mask resistance. Wearing protective masks never gave me a second thought until the pandemic. Here I feel like we just won the right to wear masks freely. Now others are trying to take right that away from me so soon? Don’t ruin this for me.

To be honest, I’ve had a difficult time with this blog essay. I started it at the beginning of the pandemic and have rewritten it several times over the last 8 months. I’m giving up and am posting it now in part to assuage my Hallowcovidween blues and also to get it off my ‘to do’ list because it’s been here for way too long – the whole freaking pandemic now. What’s more, whatever the election may bring next week, I want to get this out now, just in case it gets even more politicized. Public health should not be a political issue. It’s the failure of our nation that it has become one.

For me, wearing a mask is a warrior thing. My martial arts practice brought mask wearing into my lifestyle. I’ve worn plenty of protective masks, or more specifically, helmets. As odd as it sounds, I went to college primarily to study swordsmanship. I went to a fencing summer camp when I was in High School at San Jose State University, and the coach there, Maestro Michael D’Asaro, advised me to enroll and fence for him. I had no plan after High School and was bound toward Junior College, and back then SJSU wasn’t that much more expensive, and Stro (as D’Asaro was nicknamed) said that I’d lose NCAA years as soon as I enrolled at any college. So I fenced for the NCAA team under Stro and also earned my Prevost D’armes D’escrime under Maestro William Gaugler in a unique program under SJSU’s ROTC. I also trained in Kendo under Sensei Benjamin Hazard. Stro was a world champion and both Gaugler and Hazard were University professors. All have passed away now but their teachings still resonate within me.

Those martial disciplines taught me to respect masks. Anyone who has done any serious weapons training knows how important a mask is to protect your head. It sucks to get hit in the face. Both Fencing and Kendo are sword arts where combatants can strike your skull as hard as possible. It’s very satisfying to be on the delivering end, but not as much to be the recipient. You do not want to take that blow without a protective mask. Masking is awkward for beginners, but there is significant ritual and protocol about donning it. And soon enough it becomes a place of security and comfort, especially when someone is trying to crack your cranium.

In fencing, it’s common etiquette to salute your opponent with your mask off. But when you fence, you don your mask for your own protection.

For those who has never been in a sword fight – which is surely the majority of the population nowadays – I imagine it’s tough to relate to martial arts masking. Nevertheless, anyone who has ever sparred understands the importance of protective gear. As martial artists go, I’m not thick (as in thick skinned), so I’ve always relied on as much protective gear as is allowed. Real warriors wear masks to protect themselves, as well as to protect others.

My Kendo mask. I haven’t donned it in years.

There’s another reason why I love masks that came from my university years. At SJSU I minored in Anthropology, focusing on Cultural over Physical. Within that field, I studied rituals of masking and became fascinated by its cultural relevance. Donning a mask sends a message, whether conscious or unconscious. The type of mask you wear is an expression of the inner self, even though being a mask, it is meant to obscure the outward appearance. I made art masks as a sculptural outlet. A few years ago, I made one for a Halloween costume based on the classic Kung Fu flick, Five Deadly Venoms (1978). It was a fun project, a good excuse to watch that movie again. In this same vein, I’m delighted about the variation of mask designs that are emerging in response to the pandemic. I’m hopeful that full-on space helmets are next. Seriously, I would rock an Star Trek TOS spacesuit everyday if it was socially acceptable and functionally protective.

Poison Clan Rocks the World! My 2016 Halloween mask

However fencing and decorative masks aren’t the kind of protective masks that are being advocated to help quell the pandemic. I only bring them up to give my personal penchant for masks some context.

When it comes to protective masks, I’m disappointed at the fragility of Americans who claim they can’t breathe while wearing such a mask. Poaching ‘I can’t breathe’ from the Black Lives Matter movement is so misguided and tone deaf. Face masks are designed for so you can breath through them. That’s the whole point. Some of us have to wear masks so we can make our livings and you don’t hear us whining about it.

I worked in a shop for years beginning in the late 80s. I made my living as full-time as a swordmaker at the Armoury division of American Fencers Supply Company. Now whenever I say that, people imagine me hammering metal billets into blades, but I didn’t work in a forge. We bought blades and fitted them, so it was shop work, cleaning and polishing cast pieces with Dremel tools and polishing wheels, cutting wood on a table saw, occassionally working with a MIG welder. We wore protective masks and goggles. There were fumes, wood and metal splinters, sparks, all sorts of nasty things that you didn’t want in your face. If you’ve done any kind of industrial work like this, you know how to wear protective mask. Those that say they ‘can’t breathe’ while wearing a mask strike me as privileged – entitled weaklings that have never worked dirty jobs. They have no idea that some of us work jobs where there’s no choice about wearing a mask all day. All those frontline heroes working at hospitals now – they know. And we salute them.

Some claim that masks aren’t effective. Even with protective gear, there’s no guarantee of safety but that doesn’t mean we should disregard it. I caught a metal splinter in my eye once. It bounced into my goggles through the air vent. It was horribly painful and put me in the ER. After experiencing that, I’ve always been extra vigilant with protective gear. Even though those protective masks failed to protect me, I still wore them. Not to do so would be reckless. Just like a hard hat, work gloves, or a fencing mask, it takes a little getting used to at first, but once you experience the alternative – once you get hurt – you adapt quickly. And if it’s for your living, you get as comfortable as you can to do your job. The same goes for mask wearing in these pandemic times. To deny wearing one because they don’t always work is like not wearing a seat belt because sometimes people still die in a car crash with them on.

In 2004, I was in China during the SARS outbreak. It was an experience that I wrote about on KungFuMagazine.com – see Shaolin Trips – Episode Two: Reigning in at the Brink of the Precipice, I’ll also attach that article here (That story also appears in my book, Shaolin Trips).

Experiencing China during a major pandemic has had me waiting for another one ever since. Also, after spending so much time in Asia, I’ve seen how masking is a common courtesy. When you’re feeling a little under the weather, you wear a mask as a courtesy to shield the people around you, your family, your friends and anyone who might cross your path. No one likes to be sick. We’ve all experienced when a cold has come through school, or the office, or the gym. Being sick sucks, even when it’s not fatal. The custom of wearing masks in Asia is commonplace. If you watch classic anime, you’ve seen heroes wear masks when they’re sick from Sailor Moon to  Katsuhiro Otomo’s Memories. They’ve been ahead of the curve when it comes to masking. Now that we’re a global community, the rest of the world is finally catching up.

Training Kung Fu while masked. Photo courtesy of Debbie Shayne of The Academy of Martial and Internal Arts in Santa Cruz.

Recently, I’ve been enjoying the challenge of training with a mask. The school where I train, The Academy of Martial and Internal Arts, has been holding classes outside. We’re masked and socially distant. That’s an advantage of form-based martial arts. It’s harder to be socially distant at the MMA and Jiu-Jistsu gyms, although I do miss the ‘hands on’ drills and such but sacrifices must be made. To sacrifice is to make sacred and to practice any art earnestly is to touch the divine.

Sure, it’s harder to work out in a mask but training, especially Kung Fu training, is meant to be hard. Hardcore athletes don oxygen reduction masks to strengthen their lungs when working out. I like to think I’m getting a better workout but that’s just my self-inflated notion of my practice, not real hypoxia. I’d get a better workout if I just worked out more. Nevertheless, I do enjoy masked Kung Fu. Maybe it’s that ninja in me.

As an American, I appreciate freedom. But the paradox of freedom is that we are free to make the wrong choice. We are free to be stupid, selfish, and evil. We can vote for tyranny. That’s how freedom of choice works. If Eve never ate of that forbidden fruit, we’d all still be in Eden, naked and unencumbered by the pandemic. All of those Biblical stories, or any religious parables, are about those who exercised their freedom, for good or for evil. And when they chose wrongly, there’s a reckoning. We must all make such choices, all the time.

We all hope the pandemic ends soon. We all want things to go back to ‘normal’ However, there’s that ‘new normal’ we all face, and in all likelihood within this future, there will be more pandemics to come. If you think COVID-19 is bad, COVID-21 or COVID-22 could be worse. It doesn’t take a scientist to recognize that we’ve experienced an increasing number of pandemics in recent years – AIDS, SARS, Ebola, Swine Flu, Avian Flu – these all emerged within my lifetime. And obviously, they have been getting progressively more devastating. Pandemics have been predicted in many scientific models – climate change, overpopulation, antibiotic resistance, zoonosis from encroaching on wildlands – it’s just happening faster than expected. Masks won’t solve any of these, but I’ll hedge my bet with the added protection. In the face of imminent apocalypse, I’ll take any advantage I can.

I sincerely hope that we are free to wear masks from here forward regardless of politics and culture. If I have a cold, I will wear a mask to shield others. If I have allergies, I’ll also wear a mask. If there’s a smog alert, or smoke from wildfires, I’ll mask up then too. Don’t impinge my right to wear a mask. I’m comfortable wearing them. I love masks.

Chadwick Boseman 1976-2020

My former movie review partner at KungFuMagazine.com, Patrick Lugo, posted an expanded version of our 2018 review of Black Panther yesterday in honor of Chadwick Boseman’s passing. You can find that here: Review Revisited: BLACK PANTHER: Come out Fighting (the original review is here: BLACK PANTHER: Come out Fighting). Patrick and I co-authored around dozen reviews. We attended dozens more screeners together, taking turns on who would review the film depending upon who had a better foothold on the film. You’ll find all of our reviews listed in the KungFuMagazine.com article index here. Patrick has been republishing expanded reviews on his own blog site, and seeing those reminds me of all those screeners we attended together over the years. It was a precious perk of our jobs. This was yet another reminder of how much I miss going to movies at the theaters during the pandemic.

When it comes to Boseman, in all honesty, I’ve only seen him as Black Panther in the MCU and in Da 5 Bloods, which I watched to see Veronica Ngo’s performance for a piece I wrote for Den of Geek (see The Old Guard: How the Immortal Quynh Was Brought to Life). I’ve been meaning to watch more of Boseman’s work, and his passing will motivate me to bump those films up higher in my queue. Reading the flood of tributes in his wake is heartbreaking, as if we haven’t had enough heartbreak this year already. What a truly exceptional human he was.

The tribute that really got me was from Simu Liu, whose social media I’ve been following since he was cast as Shang Chi.

As a professional movie reviewer and a lifelong fan of film, representation in cinema has always been at that forefront of my mind – now more then ever with all of the racial tension in the U.S. However, while we both suffer from prejudice, being Asian is a different experience than being Black. I had plenty of Asian cinematic role models within Chinese and Japanese film, both of which had huge moviemaking industries since I was a child. Growing up, I watched Kung Fu and Kaiju movies where Asians were heroes (and villains) regularly, working my way through those funky subtitles and dubs. The African continent doesn’t have that level of film industry yet. Only a few African films have made it across the Atlantic although more are on the way. For as long as I can remember, there have been more Blacks represented in Hollywood than Asians, but both of our communities are grossly underepresented given our national population. I can only imagine what impact Black Panther must have had on Black Americans. It’s refreshing to see any people of color in Hollywood.

I had hoped this year would be the year of Mulan. This Disney tentpole promises to be a major breakthrough for Asian representation, as well as a boost for the Chinese martial arts industry. I was a week away from putting Mulan on the final cover of Kung Fu Tai Chi but it fell through, and now in retrospect, I’m glad that didn’t happen. What’s more, I was booked to attend the Mulan screener. It was one of my first dates that was cancelled by the pandemic, just a few days before everything shut down. The reservation was for the AMC Metreon on March 23rd and it was the IMAX presentation. Watching the rescheduling of that, and the final move to Disney+ was just more heartbreak, another reminder of how much I miss seeing movies at the theaters.

China’s movie theaters have already reopened. Frankly, it’s not the ‘China Flu’ anymore. More Americans have Covid than any other nation. China has quelled it, so much so that a few days ago, Variety published China Is World’s First Market to Achieve Full Box Office Recovery, Says Analytics Firm in the wake of The Eight Hundred earning $119 million over the prior weekend. Mulan is approved for a theatrical release in China although at this writing, the date has not been set. If it releases there on the same day Disney+ offers it, Mulan will go head-to-head with Tenet, another major 2020 blockbuster that I would love to see on the big screen.

When will the U.S. theaters open? We have to get those Covid numbers down first and that will take more unity than the United States seems capable of at the moment. We need a leader that can unify us again. Heading into the most divisive election I’ve witnessed in my lifetime, that’s almost unimaginable. Here, it is often said that there’s a price for freedom. Our citizens are free to ignore science. We are free to believe that the pandemic – which has impacted the entire world – is a hoax. We can disregard the measures that other nations around the world have implemented to successfully control the virus. That is the price for our freedom now. Seeing movies in theaters may be a small price to pay compared to the impact upon our medical system, our economy, and everything else, but freedom has a lot of hidden charges.

I hope that someday, Patrick and I can bring fresh reviews to KungFuMagazine.com again. It was often a challenge for us to find the Kung Fu connection in some of the films we screened. And it was always fun to pack as many MartialArtSmart.com items that we could into our reviews to help fund the website. Like with Chadwick Boseman, I was unfamiliar with Black Panther when we saw that screener together and like usual, had to default to Patrick’s comic expertise. He wrote the lion’s share of our Black Panther review, which is why he is credited as first author. On several occassions, we attended screeners that had a marginal martial connection, which we wouldn’t know until we’d already seen it. Attending a screener obligated us to produce a review with in a certain time frame, so we’d have to sort that quickly, usually on our own time (screeners are usually held the week of the premiere which only gives us a few days to turn it around). I remember watching that amazing single-take casino fight scene in Black Panther, and nodding approvingly to Patrick as we watched on, enthralled by the film.

I truly hope Black Panther 2 can still be made although I cannot imagine who could possibly fill that panther cowl like Boseman. While some iconic superheroes have switched actors like Batman, Superman, Spider-man, and more, Boseman’s performance was so groundbreaking that it’ll be difficult. Most of all, I hope that we can overcome this pandemic and return to moving forward – forward to a new normal or whatever – and get back to the movies.

Rest in power, Chadwick Boseman. Wakanda forever.

End of Watch: Kung Fu Tai Chi Magazine 1999-2020

What a sad way to go. In the Kung Fu movies, people die heroically, fighting off hordes of Manchus or Triad gangs, in a glorious sanguineous splatter splash. But Kung Fu Tai Chi died because the world got sick.

The demise of Kung Fu Tai Chi had been coming for over a decade. Print magazine publishing, especially for niche mags like ours, is a dying art. Now, it is completely dead to me. I’ve been involved with print publishing since I was a teenager. But even twenty years ago, soon after I began publishing full-time for a living, I could already see that the end was inevitable. I began saying ‘print publishing is like making dinosaur saddles.’ In the world of social media and smart phones, the harsh reality is that publishing a print magazine sits well within my arsenal of obsolete skills, right up there with knowing how to sword fight.

1997 December+January featured my first article in Kung Fu Tai Chi (then Kungfu Wushu Qigong). The article was ‘Radical Taiji’ on Sun Style.

I started freelance writing back in 1991 and took a full-time position with Kung Fu Tai Chi magazine in 1999. I had written several articles for the magazine before taking the position, starting from 1997, and continued freelancing until I accepted the position there. Back then, the newsstands were still fat. The internet was just beginning (KungFuMagazine.com was launched in 2001). When I joined the team, Kung Fu Tai Chi went monthly through the duration of 2000, distributing some 60,000 copies per issue. But even then, the writing was on the wall. The mega-bookstores were crushing out the indie newsstands and everyone in the industry knew that they would inevitably only to fold themselves. The profit margin for booksellers is low, so to discount it even more for a big box store was doomed to failure. It was slash-and-burn capitalism, designed for a quick profit with no forethought of the future, leaving a burnt out wasteland in its wake.

I accepted the position with Kungfu Wushu Qigong for the December 1999 issue but it was not announced at first. It was covert – ninja style.

After killing all the indie bookstores, the mega-bookstores collapsed under their own bloat, reducing literacy in America to whatever online store offering the search engines spit up. Gone are the hours spent perusing potential reads within the quiet sanctity of a good bookstore. Kids today, they just don’t know. For niche mags like Kung Fu Tai Chi, those mega-bookstores offered mega-newsstands for a few years, but then came that slash-and-burn that obliterated them completely, leaving nothing but an illiterate scarred earth.

My position was announced in a special issue, the 2000 Shaolin Temple Special.

On top of that, the internet was taking over. In the year 2009, some three hundred magazines folded. Distributors were consolidating. Newsstands were dwindling. The industry was collapsing. Our print orders decreased with every issue – sometimes just by a dozen or so, other times by a few hundred. It was the death of a thousand cuts. And each one hurt.

The 10 Year Anniversary issue in 2002 was unique. It documented the progression of the magazine and the history of the advancement of Martial Arts in America. I worked closely with Senior Graphic Designer Patrick Lugo to bring this issue to life. His work on the layout of this issue was spectacular. It remains one of my favorites for content (and extraordinary snapshot of martial arts progress at the time) and design.

The pandemic shut down the remaining newsstand sales across the nation. Grocery stores stayed open, but those newsstands aren’t big enough to support niche mags, and everyone was hunting for toilet paper anyway (magazine paper stock makes terrible toilet paper because it’s not absorbent or soft, just in case you’re wondering). Barnes & Noble, one of the largest surviving distributors of niche magazines in the nation, closed over 500 of their 600 stores. And by April, they announced that they would no longer be ordering new magazines and would cease carrying them altogether. It was the last nail in the Kung Fu Tai Chi coffin.

All of the Shaolin Specials were favorites of mine. The 2004 July+August was especially cherished because I was able to place my master Shi Decheng on the cover.

It was a great run. I’m enormously proud of what we achieved over the years. And it was one of the best mediums I’ve ever had to express myself. I am forever grateful to Tiger Claw for affording the opportunity and honored to have served the martial arts community in this capacity. What saddens me (aside from me and my team losing our jobs) is that I’m leaving a ton of backburner projects at Kung Fu Tai Chi – articles and videos in development, products I was designing, so many projects that may never see the light of day now.

Another favorite issue was the 2005 January+February – the Sword Collector’s Issue. It distilled my love of swords and showcased some magnificent aspects of Chinese ancient cold arms. The Chinese Martial Arts has an extraordinary arsenal, and yet few knew about the historic and archaeologic weaponry that remains.

Despite its decline, I will always love print magazines. After twenty years of print publishing, I cannot look at a magazine like a normal person. I examine at the binding and layout. I analyze the overall composition, the juxtaposition of content and advertising, the flow of articles into one another, so many factors that people outside the publishing industry overlook. There can be art to every aspect of a magazine. This publisher’s eye will probably never leave me. I’ll always look at magazines for innovations I might poach out of reflex, even though it’s useless to me now, again, just like my sword fighting skills.

The 2016 January+February showcased Into the Badlands, which I covered extensively on KungFuMagazine.com. AMC took me on the set near Dublin twice and I became personal friends with the lead, Daniel Wu. Daniel graciously attended our 25th Anniversary Gala in 2017.

And while I respect the immediacy, economy, plasticity and democracy of web publishing, there’s just something tangible about a magazine. You can hold in your hands and leaf through it at your leisure. It reminds me of when digital playlists supplanted cassette tapes. I used to mix cassette tapes for friends (particularly girlfriends) and I composed those with a specific underlying structure. There’s an order to analog. You have to get through each song to get to the next, either by listening to it or fast forwarding through it. With a digital playlist, you can just skip to whatever track you want. That eviscerates any effort to program intentionally. Print magazines have this same quality. You must leaf through the pages to get where you’re going. You can’t just click ‘find’. It’s a journey and often, the little side trips are the best part.

Another favorite cover was Ray Park on our 2016 July+August issue. We met for drinks at a Comic-con, and what was meant to be an hour-long interview went late into the night. I got to show off my Star Wars nerd fandom in the Cover Story with my knowledge of Darth Maul.

Make no mistake. Kung Fu Tai Chi magazine is done. Fans have been asking if there is any way to save it, but that opportunity is long past. We did everything in our power to try to keep it going. It was our full-time job so all those offhand suggestions I’ve been getting, while with the best intentions, have already been explored. We kept Kung Fu Tai Chi going long after it was financially viable. Over the last few years, my only hope was that some entrepreneur like Jack Ma would finance it as a personal project. But that was just a dream, like winning the lottery.

At this writing, I’m not sure what I’ll do next. I’ve picked up a few freelance gigs here and there and am exploring a few offers. It’s like returning to being a Ronin after two decades of serving a lord as a Samurai. Many friends, colleagues and even strangers who call themselves my friends on social media, have offered suggestions, and a few have even brought me some promising leads. I’m grateful of that outpouring of grief but it is already fading into memory, like everything on the news cycle nowadays. Things are so fleeting and there are plenty of other topics to fill the newsfeeds, especially now with the pandemic and riots. The death of Kung Fu Tai Chi feels inconsequential when compared to the big picture.

One of my more recent favorites was our 2019 Fall cover feature. This was the first American magazine to put Iko Uwais on the cover. We had many first American covers like Jet Li, Donnie Yen, the Abbot of Shaolin Temple Venerable Shi Yongxin. I’m proud that we were able to continue that tradition up until the very end.

Some suggestions that I’ve been receiving for future endeavors have been dumb. That sounds critical – people are just trying to help and I am grateful for the gesture. However being in the martial world for so long has made me jaded, but some of the suggestions were absurdly tone deaf. As I know I’m not the only one out of work, I offer these examples as advice to those advisors. Often, it’s better to just be present with the suffering of others. Don’t offer solutions when you don’t have a decent grasp of the problems.

Apparently a lot of people think I should become an internet influencer, as if anyone can just start making a living doing that so easily. I’m told I should make YouTube videos or a podcast, but that takes so much time and effort to get off the ground. It’s in part why I launched this blog. Now I don’t have any delusions that this blog will blow up into my living. On the day I launched it, I instantly picked up about 50 subscribers. Now, I have over a 100. I’ll just need about 19,900 more to become that influencer. Seriously, to become enough of an influencer to make a living off it isn’t as simple as so many make it out to be or we’d all do it. So many of the people that have suggested this only have a few dozen followers to their own social media. It’s like those armchair critics of MMA fighters, as if they knew anything about what it takes to step in the cage. Internet influencer indeed. It won’t matter how many injections I get in my butt, I’ll never be a Kardashian. Honestly if I had that kind of popularity, the magazine might have had a bigger following, enough to survive the pandemic. I worked Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, even MySpace under the KungFuMagazine.com banner for years. And even though we built up sizable followings across all those platforms, it’s still wasn’t enough to cover the bills to keep the print magazine alive.

Someone suggested that I start a non-profit magazine. A old friend even suggested I found a non-profit museum. Having worked for several non-profits, plus all of the aforementioned magazine publishing work, that was one of the suggestions where the suggester was sincere, but had no idea whatsoever. No, I’m done with print publishing. Like I said at the start, it’s an obsolete skill and it’s long past time for me to let that go. After twenty years, launching a new job search during the highest unemployment since the Great Depression is very daunting, but at least I’m not alone.

Another suggestion is that I should write another book. I published my first book Shaolin Trips in 2010 and it took me years to write. It’s really a compilation of my Shaolin research – I wanted to index my work so I could reference it easily. Shaolin Trips was published through TC Media International, and while I did make some money on it, it wasn’t enough to make a living.

Shaolin Trips – my first book.

Although when the Shelter-in-Place hit, I did start working on two other book ideas that have been on my backburner for ages. One of the book ideas hit a wall quickly. It’s a thinly-disguised fictional work that would allow me to recount my adventures in Psychedelic Crisis response within the music industry, one that skirted HIPPA because it would be fantasy. The names would be changed to protect the innocent (and the guilty). But it needs a lot of work before it might be something that I could submit to a publisher.

The other book is a collection of martial essays. I didn’t get that far into it before I got laid off. At that point, I lost a lot of momentum for it. Maybe I’ll keep working on it as I look for work. Maybe I’ll cut it up and just publish it here. Right now, I’m too distracted by my search for a new source of income in the wake of the pandemic to invest in working on writing another book. Both projects went back to the backburner.

There’s a nagging inclination to leave the martial world professionally. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll always practice martial arts. That’s my life and my passion. If I don’t punch, kick or swing a sword regularly, I get irritable. When I took my vows as a Shaolin Disciple, some monks charged me with the task of bringing Shaolin to America. And while I may continue with that mission, I feel I’ve met that commitment well enough already. No other Shaolin disciple can claim what I achieved for the cause.

It’s quite different when you make your entire living in the martial arts like I have for the last 30+ years. It’s hard to explain to those who haven’t been here. Sometimes I just want to practice Kung Fu, and not have to be thinking about reporting on it or monetizing it. I live in a seaside town in a century-old beach bungalow. There’s a part of me that yearns for a simpler life as a beach bum. Time will tell.

Our final newsstand issue, the Spring 2020. This was a strong issue and I am happy that we were able to end on a solid one.

For now, I’ve agreed to help Tiger Claw perpetuate KungFuMagazine.com, and plan to still publish there. But at this point, this won’t be enough to support my family. KungFuMagazine.com relies solely upon the financial success of MartialArtSmart.com because that funds the website, the forum and the associated social media. KungFuMagazine.com has an archive of over 800 exclusive articles and nearly 170 cover stories, so if you want continued free access to all of that (as well as me writing there) support MartialArtSmart.com. Kung Fu Tai Chi would have survived a little longer if MartialArtSmart.com had more financial support. Please don’t let KungFuMagazine.com go the same way.

Maybe I’ll reemerge with when the martial arts tournaments reopen. I truly hope another Tiger Claw Elite KungFuMagazine.com Championship happens, but who knows what the state of large gatherings will be on the other side of the pandemic? I made so many friends through my career in the Martial Arts, many very dear friends, and tournaments served as major social gatherings for all of us. I really look forward to when we can reunite.

Until that time

Be well.