Long Weekend

Long as in difficult, not chronologically.

I think, if I had spent a little longer thinking about the consequences, I would have seen all of this coming and I would have avoided it. I made the mistake of writing in haste, and with a level of casual criticism that is beneath me. But, like I told the offended authors, I wrote only because I actually care about their work. If I didn’t I would have ignored them from the start. I think I have patched things up, but I did get my name dragged through some mud and that was unexpected, even if I started it. I am aware that there is a deep vein of conflict in the non-academic community of historical martial arts. I did not know its full depths or how nasty they can be to each other. That was turned on me this weekend and it was not pleasant. There were entirely valid counterpoints to my review, counters to criticism I levelled without sufficient support. I’m not used to counters written with that level of invective (although I admit an admiration for their rhetorical flair. I did call them careless with sources, I didn’t and won’t call them poor writers).

I’m going to learn from this. If I can build up the courage, I may try and help explain (if anyone will listen to me after this introduction) how they can make their work relevant to readers like me. I think the authors’ complaint that they must struggle to be taken seriously (by the likes of me, or those whom they share a community) was, and is, an injustice for everyone involved. I feel a certain obligation to do what I can to change that. And that cuts both ways.

I have bumped into the anti-intellectual tone at several stages in my emerging career. I can’t fix much of that, and I don’t expect I will win many hearts and minds with a ‘hug an academic’ campaign in the wilderness of martial arts research. I may be able to show how writers can massage their work into a form that won’t be dismissed out of hand, and I am a rare one amongst carded academics who would rather give a book produced outside the usual circles a chance. That being said, I need to stop holding these works to unreasonable standards. Not because I think the authors are incapable of reaching those standards, but because most of their readers (and their publishers and editors) don’t expect it or demand it.

That was my first mistake.

When you spend too much time working with primary sources within the academic community you take a your training in field-craft for granted. I wrote my review thinking that much of that method was self evident.

That was my second mistake.

Finally, here and in any other public forum where I write my thoughts, whatever that may be, it is libel to be held to a standard of that is appropriate to my position. My credibility can and will be judged on the least of my work. Everything can (and given the circumstances) will be held up as representative of my work as a whole. It does not matter how unfair that seems, it is the truth in practice.

That was my third mistake.

With any luck, I won’t make these mistakes again.


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