Heads & Tails: Adam Hsu on Martial Marketing

Plum’s new series, Heads & Tails, presents the thoughts, experiences and points of view from top martial teachers and practitioners (CMA). It is not meant to be a passive offering—these are ideas to wrangle, consider, argue for and against. This first excerpt comes from Sifu Adam Hsu’s newest book, “Life Is Too Short For Bad Kung Fu.”

“In the old days, there was a market for martial arts novels, but not for martial arts. Then, there was a market for Kung Fu movies, but not for martial arts. Now there is a market for Kung Fu video games but still not for martial arts. No one can be blamed except the martial arts themselves. It’s a shame that martial arts has to rely on novels, movies and video games to survive. Martial arts have never been able to find a market on their own. But there is, clearly, a huge and excellent market in health and fitness, which has been waiting for martial arts to take over. Moreover there are competitors from other countries who will fight with us and take the money away from our hand. Martial arts are too weak to take advantage of such good opportunities. It is so odd!”

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3 Responses to “Heads & Tails: Adam Hsu on Martial Marketing”

  1. John Bushrod says:

    I cannot see what A.H. is complaining about, books, films, TV and now video games all give martial arts a degree of publicity that most products can only dream of and all for free. My own life long involvement in M.A. starting in the late 1950’s was triggered by comic book stories involving Judo and Jujitsu. As for M.A.’s taking over the health and fitness industry, this is just a pipe dream, 2 or 3 short runs and a couple of weight training sessions a week will produce better results in a lot less time so anyone taking up M.A’s for that reason will not stay for very long, also trying to turn martial arts into something with mass market appeal will only water them down even more. So, what will keep people doing martial arts(the real problem is not getting people to start, it’s getting them to stay) and at the same time maintain a high standard? This is where I put my head on the block, Chinese martial arts are cursed by the myth of the master, I believe we need to get rid of masters and replace them with coaches, coaches gain their reputations by producing champions, therefor it is in the coaches interest to tell his students everything he knows. Masters on the other hand are famous for being unbeatable so it is never beneficial to them to teach all they know. The result is a lot of keen, hard working students give up martial arts and take up activities where they are taught properly. Oddly the master mentality seems to be one held even by teachers with quite low skill levels, probably because we all tend to learn how to teach from the way we were taught. I should confess that although I have been doing martial arts on and off for decades starting with schoolboy judo and now in my 70’s finishing(I would imagine) with Chen Taiji I have never been good enough to be an instructor so this is an opinion of someone who has never been on the sharp end of teaching.
    Thanks to every one at Plum Pub for all you do, Best Wishes, John.

  2. Plum Staff says:

    Sadly, John, a lot of what you say is true. Adam Hsu himself calls this heartbreaking.

  3. Steven Harvey says:

    It’s because most people just aren’t motivated to study and self-cultivate. Music is analogous. Helps sell dramas, ads, videogames, yet most don’t play an instrument.

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