As evidenced by the comments left on this blog and the awesome facebook community, IkigaiWay has some smart cookies reading and participating!
There’s no question that IkigaiWay wouldn’t be where it is today without the thoughtful contributions of the community. We’ve all come together under the idea that it is possible to share and learn online while preserving the spirit of the martial way.
Now I’d like to open the floor and give some readers a platform to share their experiences and ideas. This will be a “Reader’s Week” where every day I will feature a new and interesting article.
Who’s Eligible to Submit an Article?
You are! As you know IkigaiWay is not style-specific, so you can bring whatever experience you have to the table. Whether you’re a 30 year vet or a 2 year newbie, it doesn’t matter. If you have something interesting to contribute, go for it. Since I’ll be acting as your editor and assistant, you needn’t be self conscious about matters such as spelling and grammar.
What Should I Write About?
The door is fairly wide open regarding your topic. However, I can give you some general guidelines that will improve your chances of getting selected:
- Attacks on any specific person or organization you happen to dislike
- Promotional bragging about your organization or school
- Raw training schedules about your workouts or routine
- Self aggrandizing biography
- Weird or unique historical studies
- Important lessons learned throughout your training
- Memorable experiences with instructors
- Specific concept analysis
- Broad scope trends and goings-on in the martial arts world
- Whatever else you can dream up!
How Long Should the Submission Be?
My articles tend to vary wildly in length. However I would suggest not dipping below three paragraphs. If you start to wonder if your submission should be an ebook, you might have gone on too long.
How Do I Submit?
Submission is easy. First, create your article in a file that is friendly with Microsoft Word, Wordpad, or Notepad (if this is impossible for you, let me know. We can probably make arrangements via Google Docs). Include the text of the submission either in the body of the email you send or as a separate attachment.
Once your article is prepared, click here:
If the link above does not work, email submissions to email@example.com.
What Are the Benefits of Submitting?
If your submission is selected, you’ll gain exposure on an internationally recognized martial arts platform. You can use that as a writing credit or resume builder.
Furthermore, I will feature a small bio snippet of you along with your article which can link back to any blog or school website you happen to be associated with.
You’ll also receive an “IkigaiWay Guest Author” badge to place on your website (never before seen).
I will also send you ikigaiway stickers.
Can I Use An Old Blog Post or Previously Published Article?
Although I ‘m not inflexibly opposed to older work, I prefer an original piece. In general, Google and other search engines don’t care for duplicate content. DC tends to work against the reputation of both sites involved; not to mention that if IkigaiWay ranks higher than your original post, you’ll lose traffic for that very same content!
That’s no good, so an original article tends to best for both parties.
You retain legal rights to your article, but I ask that you do not republish the work in full anywhere on the web for a year after it appears on IkigaiWay.
What If I Have Questions?
If you have any questions about the process or the validity of your submission idea, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be happy to field any concerns you have.
What’s the Deadline For Submission?
I’ll be collecting submissions for the next two weeks. The earlier you submit, the better your chances.
Good luck, and I look forward to hearing from you!
I’m pleased to present this interview with John Donohue, a karateka and kendoka who possesses a strong reputation as a martial arts author.
With over 30 years of training experience, Mr. Donohue has combined his martial arts with his academic life. As a result, he has created multiple high quality written works in both the fiction and non-fiction formats. He is most well known for the Connor Burke series, starting with the popular novel Sensei, and branching out into Deshi, Tengu, and most recently Kage.
Mr. Donohue is also an associate editor for the prestigious Journal of Asian Martial Arts. The following is a Q&A regarding his training experiences and literary success.
MA: How did you first get started in the martial arts some 30 years ago? What was your earliest experience?
JD: I was an adolescent in the 70’s at the time that the martial arts were really getting some popular exposure—Bruce Lee, the Kung-fu TV series. I was someone who had always been interested in other cultures (an interest that stuck with me—years later, I got a doctorate in anthropology). I was also fascinated by the Asian approach to traditional martial arts that integrated philosophical concepts along with physical technique.
My first exposure to actual training started with getting my hands on some popular “how-to” manuals for kung-fu, the Bruce Tegner stuff, and trying it out. I quickly realized that there was more to this than met the eye.
MA: Could you provide a brief outline of the styles you’ve studied over the course of your training, and under whom you studied?
JD: In college, I started taking karate classes that were offered either as intramurals or for PE credit. At Stony Brook University, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Shotokan Karatedo by Mori Masataka. He was a tremendously skilled sensei and I studied with him for a number of years. After graduating from college, I studied judo with Shiina Kiyoshi. As a graduate student, I conducted research on the martial tradition had an opportunity to be exposed to kendo with Kataoka Noboru and aikido with Hagihara Edi. Later on I continued studying karatedo with Liu Hong-guang, who also exposed me to some taiji. Finally, I studied kendo with Kimura Hiroaki.
I’ve been very privileged to study with some fine sensei.
MA: Who do you consider your biggest influences in the arts (your primary instructors)?
JD: Mori Sensei, since he opened my eyes to the power and beauty of traditional budo and Kimura Sensei, who set me on the path of kendo.
MA: Could you tell us a bit about their background and whom they studied with?
JD: Mori Mastaka studied at Takushoku University, joined the karate club there and eventually became team captain. He joined the JKA in 1955. He became Chief Instructor of the Karate Association of Hawaii (KAH) in 1963. In 1968 he relocated to New York and became the North Atlantic regional chief instructor of the JKA. His dojo is located in New York City.
Kimura Sensei showed interest in martial arts at a very young age (his father was the kendo coach at the local high school). He studied kendo and then began studying Shorinji Kempo in college. He moved to the United States when he was 22 and continued to study and train, but also recognized that there was strong interest in the martial arts in the United States. He has been teaching kempo for more than thirty years and was instrumental in introducing kendo training to Western New York.
MA: You’re an associate editor with the Journal of Asian Martial Arts. When did that happen in context with your personal writing career? Was it before or after you became a published author?
JD: I was fortunate to meet Mike DeMarco, the publisher of JAMA at the very early stages of the Journal’s development, sometime in the early 90’s. At that point I had published a version of my doctoral dissertation (The Forge of the Spiri—1991) as well as a few scholarly articles on the subject of the martial arts. Mike, along with a handful of other interested scholars, encouraged me to pursue more research and writing on the topic. It wasn’t until about ten years later that I started to write martial arts fiction—my first novel, Sensei, was published in 2003.
MA: The Journal of Asian Martial Arts is considered one of only a few highly reputable publications for traditional martial arts. Could you talk about the mission of the magazine and how you contribute?
JD: JAMA is devoted to providing high-quality scholarly and technical articles on the martial arts. Its mission is to take writing about the martial arts as seriously as we do training in them. It tries to bridge theoretical, academic, and technical perspectives on the martial arts and provide readers with well-written, accurate, and engaging material.
MA: Over the years you’ve developed a successful academic career as well as writing career. Has it sometimes been difficult to find time for training?
JD: It has. I think that the demands of family and career mean that there are times when training needs to be put on the back burner. It never goes away completely (and the desire and interest is always there) but the reality of it is that I am not a professional martial artist. I am a committed martial artist and I value the lessons that training has given me. When I can’t train regularly I miss it. But I’m also clear-headed enough to know that first things need to come first.
MA: Since Sensei you have written Deshi, Tengu, and now Kage. Has the story unfolded more and more naturally in your mind, or has it been difficult to improve upon yourself?
JD: Since I’ve invested considerable time and energy into making Burke’s world a fictional reality, I don’t have much difficulty generating possible story lines. I have about seven burkebooks outlined in my head. But one of the real challenges of writing a series about a set group of characters is that you have to make them change. This sometimes can be upsetting to readers, since they like things the way they are. Familiar characters that always act the same are in some ways comforting and are also probably related to the fact that we’ve been programmed to expect this from watching too much TV.
That said, I’ve tried to make the story of Burke and Yamashita and the others unfold with a little realism—Burke needs to grow, Yamashita is ageing. Yet at the same time I try to hold on to the essence of the characters and their settings.
The real challenge for me is in the technical sense of writing. I try to get better at it. The craft of writing is really important to me—I try to write clearly and to engage the reader and not fall into some of the more hideous mistakes that are often too abundant in popular fiction.
MA: Tell us a bit about the new book Kage. What elements of adventure and martial arts can readers look forward to?
JD: The new book finds the protagonist unwittingly getting involved with the shadowy world of cross-border smugglers in Arizona. The action takes place in the American Southwest as well as in the New York area and involves competing smuggling gangs, shadowy operatives from the Border Patrol and Federal government, as well as sinister hit men of various types. Connor Burke has to use all the skill developed in years studying under the master warrior Yamashita to come out whole.
MA: What are your plans for future books, and do you have an idea for how long the Connor Burke saga will last?
JD: As I mentioned, I’ve got at least seven burkebooks in mind, although I’ll probably keep writing them for as long as readers are interested. I’m also developing some new series, one involving an ex-Army Ranger named Oso Moreno—a hit man with a conscience who studies Daito-ryu aikijutsu—and another series that focuses on paranormal aspects of Asian culture with a heroine named Sharon Kao whose love interest is a top-notch judoka. Lots of action, lots of martial arts. I hope people like them.
MA: Thanks a lot for your participation and we look forward to more of your work!
I guess there are some perks to being a part-time freelance writer. Also to being a huge nerd. On April 22, Kari Byron and Grant Imahara of Mythbusters came to Penn State Berks and I was there to meet them.
PSB (that’s Penn State Berks for those not hip to the lingo) is my alma mater, and by a freak chance I checked their events bulletin board a few months ago and noticed that two mythbusters were coming to town. Unfortunately, I had initially misread the post and thought that Kari and Grant had already came and gone, and that fate was torturing me by showing me this post too late. A few hours later I reread the post and realized that I was an idiot, and that the event was scheduled for April (which hadn’t arrived yet).
In a bolder-than-usual fashion, I set out to meet them. I love Mythbusters and watch it often; every cast member of the show plays a unique role in creating a very entertaining dynamic. So instead of simply getting tickets, I wanted to actually be involved. The only way for me to do that was to fall back on my freelance writing credentials. I contacted the man in charge and arranged to be part of the press.
I’m not a reporter by any means…but I have had enough experience to be properly prepared for these sorts of things. I generated a healthy list of questions, some for Kari, some for Grant, some for both. I put on a nice collared shirt, and grabbed my digital camera. That’s all a reporter needs, right?
I wasn’t sure what to expect upon arrival. At a few previous interview events I’ve been to, a bunch of us media-types sat in a conference room with the celeb-person and we all talked communally and asked questions. I figured this would probably be similar, but couldn’t be sure. When I showed up, Grant popped out of a nearby bathroom and walked into the media office. I flashed him a look that said “I’ll be speaking to you shortly my friend,” but which he probably interpreted as “creepy.”
I went in, met with the event coordinator, and he escorted me into a private office where Kari and Grant were waiting. To my delight and surprise I was granted ten minutes of personal interview time with them! In a professional, relaxed, and all around cool manner (…pretty much) I introduced myself. We sat down and I asked them a couple of my preset questions. I tried to stay away from obvious ones that they probably hear constantly and would likely be covered in the presentation to follow. We also chatted a little about the campus, the area, and why they decided to go on a campus tour.
Before I knew it my time was up. I shook their hands and wished them luck in their presentation. It was a pretty awesome experience, but I didn’t have time to enjoy it. I needed to address my next concern – getting into the show itself.
I noticed that people getting in line had physical tickets, and I had none. I tracked down the coordinator and secured a press-pass ticket (to my relief). I was a little worried that my journey would be cut short half way through. I went into the auditorium and took my seat. After an introduction and blooper real of Mythbusters, Kari and Grant took a long Q&A session and revealed some very cool behind-the-scenes info about the show. I don’t want to go into too much presentation detail here, hopefully I can write up a real article about the event and link to it.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any really good pictures. I snapped a few crappy ones though – I’ll post those once I figure out if they are usable or not.
After all was said and done, I’m very happy I took the leap and met with Kari and Grant. They were awesome and hopefully Mythbusters stays on the air for a long time to come!
***update – my interview was published with associated content, check it out here – http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/738599/penn_staters_get_a_behind_the_scenes.html?cat=49
images – http://www.tvguide.com/images/pgimg/mythbusters20.jpg, http://www.mythbustersfanclub.com/mb2/images/stories/grant-bunny3.jpg