Hall, Neil R, A Convenient Myth
This paper looks at how media representation impacts upon embodied practice in martial arts, through the stories of martial arts school owners. In particular, it examines how the martial artist’s need to make a living (or on a smaller scale a class teacher’s need to make the class viable) has a determining effect on what is taught and how it is presented. Drawing on real and easy to grasp examples from present-day martial arts schools, including his own, the author explains the financial imperative to engage with potential customers who have no martial arts experience, and whose purchasing choices are shaped by myth and media representation, and shows how quickly and easily that comes to shape their martial art. Then, drawing on the author’s own experience in shaping media messages, the paper goes on to show how today’s financially-driven practice shapes tomorrow’s myths, and invites martial arts scholars to see martial artists not only as the subjects of, but also as the painters of, the pictures others see of them.
With a diverse background including community work, international consultancy, and senior positions in local and regional government – including Head of External Relations for the Mayor of London – Neil worked for many years on the development of London’s Chinatown. It was his longstanding relationship with the Chinese Community Centre that brought about the establishment of LCTKD, a Chinatown martial arts school he co-founded in late 2004, and which went on to become Chinatown’s largest and longest standing martial arts school. In 2011 Neil became the Director of the international Institute for Advanced Integrated Martial Arts. He spends his time between his responsibilities at LCTKD (including teaching 4 martial arts), at the Institute, where he is working on an on-line martial arts instructor programme, and writing and consulting on martial arts. (www.lctkd.com, www.iaima.org)