Journal of Combative Sport, Apr 2002

Publishing Asian Fighting Arts

Editorís introduction: Asian Fighting Arts (later retitled Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts) by Donn Draeger and Robert W. Smith remains a standard work on Asian martial arts, and the following is the correspondence from Donn Draeger to Robert W. Smith pertaining to the creation of that book. Reprinted courtesy Robert W. Smith. Edited by Joseph R. Svinth. Copyright © EJMAS 2002. All rights reserved.

(May 20, 1962)

Re our Fighting Arts, Tuttle still wants it and I told him [publisher Charles Tuttle] we are moving slowly, but moving. Satisfied. Iíll get mine together this summer and by late fall I should have it in your hands. Weíll talk about it if you come through here. I have done a lot on it, but it is in rough only.

Gordon Warner is staff on Black Belt magazine. He is after me for articles, but Iím too busy. Heís leaving this summer for home. Is doing a lot of iaido and kendo. See a lot of him. Tuttle says his kendo book is too much "I am", but aside from this it is good. Itís coming out soon. Doc [Warner] had planned Japanese martial arts book with emphasis on history and rationale, but will hold since Tuttle and I told him our plans.

My book should have reached you by now. Iíve checked and they sent it sometime ago. Iíll check again this coming week.

[Meredith "Tex"] Weatherby is out or on way out at Tuttle. Heís going to set up a private business. ["John Weatherhill Inc."] As yet, no replacement and thus the delay on the Gilbey manuscript. Iím pushing best I can.

My karate manuscript was delayed due to attempt by the photographer to steal pictures and do a work of his own. Tuttle threatened suit and this cooled him off. Will have it in print before end of year.

(July 1962)

Indonesia-Malaysia understandable as one section as we have so little on them. But as to their empty-hand systems being alike Ė not so. Try and tell that to either one of those natives and see what your statement will produce. Iíve seen and practiced a bit in forty-odd of the sixty penjak of Indonesia. Malyasian berisilat is different and so far behind in its development that itís pitiful. Weapons systems of each country are vastly different. Kuntao of both alike in places, but also quite different with Indonesia preferring Shantung and Khe styles. Lots of Hokkien styles in Malaya. But, I think as you say, we can pass this off on cultural similarity excuse and for the purpose of the light touch we are giving those border countries, I think the combination is a good idea. Letís do it your way.

(Mar. 10, 1963)

Will try to get tear sheet on Japanese martial arts to you. Damn busy with a four-part judo series I am co-authoring with Otaki Sensei. Got the first one off yesterday.

(July 12, 1963)

This manuscript for series of interscholastic and intercollegiate judo Iím co-authoring with Otaki Sensei has me busy. First will go to print this fall and others have me working on pictures and manuscript. Additionally I have Advanced Weight Training for Judo and three more for Karate Series to finish this year! We have no contract with Tuttle other than a verbal agreement.

(Nov. 21, 1963)

Sorry for the delay, but Iím buried under and no daylight until early next year. Iím too busy to write letters; donít even write home anymore.

Re Fighting Arts, letís do this next year (early). Kodansha will be glad to handle it. Get notes in shape. I havenít had the time to get a tear sheet for you as it necessitates going to Asahi and killing a couple of hours. A new article of mine appears in current Asahi. Itís on Zen in martial sports. Why not? Everyone writes about Zen. By the end of the current year Iíll have seven manuscripts in to publishers. Wanted eight but wonít make it. (Iím my own typist, remember?) The ninth is being worked on for next year.

The karate series may be expanded to six. Five are definite. Theyíre in five or six languages now: French, Spanish, German, Italian, Danish, and of course English.

[Isao] Inokuma and I joined forces on advanced weight training book that will be out by early summer. Should be popular.

(Feb. 12, 1964)

Iím getting swamped getting four manuscripts in to edit for spring printing. Next due is Judo for Young Men (interscholastic and intercollegiate standard) which comes out in April. Kodansha with Doubleday tie-in is handling this one. Review copy forthcoming.

They [Kodansha] will do our Fighting Arts and others since Jim Kilpatrick [formerly at Tuttle, and a friend of Draegerís] is the big boy there now.

Karate series of mine now expanded to six books. The next is due this week (number three). The rest are strung out through this year. Tuttle is the publisher and the last ones I do for him.

Tuttle has not got us for legal contract on Fighting Arts. He knows that I know that he has screwed me on account statements, and has no bitch with our pulling out. Anyway, he has no clean recognition of just what we planned. Fighting Arts of Far East or Fighting Arts of Japan. To keep you out of it all, we can say that Iíve dissolved with you on the thing and lead him to believe that it was the latter. As far as he knows, the former title is one we just cooked up. Shove it onto me; he knows that I am unhappy and that I have told him I will do no more for him.

Kodansha is hoping for a complete tie-in with Doubleday without a loss of autonomy. If this happens, we can get a damn good deal. This is one reason why I stall. Kilpatrick says it should be settled by August.

We can get regular 10 percent without usual Tuttle crap (damaged copies, consignments, returns, etc.) with semi-annual statements or lump sum at time of first print (and subsequent editions) to the tune of 8 percent. Kodansha prints at least five to seven thousand. If they have a Doubleday tie-in, they will do twelve to twenty thousand at one crack. Think it over and let me know.

(May 10, 1964)

Have asked Tuttle to send you review copies on all my stuff. Thought it was being done. Bastard has really fleeced me out of cash. The latest dodge is selling books to his own Rutland office so that he need only pay me 1/3 royalty instead of full. As I told you, Iím through with him. I have an ace in the hole by which I hope to regain some of my losses. But for new work with him, never! We can get two or three others here. How about approaching local USA publishers about our Fighting Arts idea and see what we can do. No sweat here with Kodansha-Doubleday. But maybe you can beat it. We will get straight 8 percent (4 percent each) for each book printed; whether they distribute or not is not our worry. This rate is negotiable after the first edition and perhaps can be worked up to ten or twelve percent in time. Best I can do on this end.

I will be ready to begin serious work on Fighting Arts this summer and could promise my part by next spring.

(June 1, 1964)

Iím ready to get started on Fighting Arts. Best kick-off date for me is early next month. Iím finishing up the second book of the Judo for Young Men series. Taking pictures depends on Inokumaís time, not mine. Will be done in about three more weeks. Iím highly in favor of this joint work and I am sure it will straighten out some of the crap that now exists on the market. Letís roll on this one for sure.

(Oct. 11, 1964)

Iím afraid text will have to dominate my work except Japan where pictures are a cinch. I donít mean that I donít have any pictures for other areas, but Iím not flush with them.

Sumo is easily justified as is kendo, as both have actual martial backgrounds. The first eighteen centuries of sumo were combative with applications in kumi-uchi and jujutsu. Kendo as kenjutsu similar. No problem, even though now they have purely sporting connotations. Karate follows similar pattern.

Good on your China coverage. Comment on my "big ten" for Japan. Is this cutting too much? Donít want to override your big region in China, nor bleed my sources too much for Japanese martial arts text.

Have sections on the Philippines and Korea well along. Iím using local historians from cultural associations of those countries to aid me. Excellent cooperation. Will send sample of either one you think best. Donít know how much you have on Korea, but mine is quite complete with six or seven types of combatives. If you have complete coverage, I will send what I have to you; if reverse, get it to me as quickly as you can.

Will aid you on Burma, Malaya, Thailand, and Indonesia. Will only be bits, so Iíll send along what I have in those areas. Also, in contact with Mongolians here for the Olympics. Promised to pose in wrestling shots for me. Iíll send them along to you for incorporation.

Can send sample of my write-up by the middle of next month. Feel free to comment on it and advise. Maybe Iím writing too scholarly and dry. Itís straight without any attempt to liven with humor or lighten it. Anyway, after you read it, let me know. If you can rearrange it for better reader interest, donít be afraid.

Good on publisher feel-out. Donít encourage Kilpatrick for he must do my second book in Judo for Young Men series. I want to use Fighting Arts as a lever to get this along. Bog down in Kodansha can be livened up if we use Fighting Arts accordingly. Anyhow, we canít get more than 8-10 percent from Jim. Itís negotiable after first edition, however. Iím all for stateside contract if everything is as you write. Iíll contact Weatherby first before giving you my final answer, though I donít think he can beat what we already know. Since we are known authors in the field, canít we try to get 12-1/2 percent start with some noted publishers? Try this angle.

(June 21, 1965)

The long silence needs explanation. Busy here beyond imagination. Typewriter out for three weeks with repairs on top of it all. (No loaners here.) Behind schedule on everything including, of course, Fighting Arts. No worry though since Kodansha is behind about nine months on everything. My Advanced Weight Training book due last December will be out maybe in September. The kata book is delayed until late this year. So in spite of promises to Kilpatrick, you can always be sure of at least six months delay.

Will definitely get back on Fighting Arts now. Only pending interviews with sensei here (sojutsu, iai, and kenjutsu). This will wrap up my Japan section. Before this, will send off Korea, Okinawa, Malaysia, and Philippines. What are you prepared to do with Cambodia, Siam, Laos, etc.? Will you include Burma? Let me know if I can aid on this section. Have some good historical sources, though martial arts are sketchy.

Pictures are being gathered now. Will you send with text direct to Kodansha? The art piece accompanying your analysis is interesting. Some differences of opinion here by art critics and I think it is a strange form myself. Anyway, it shows martial usage and may come in handy. Having Ueno museum expert on Chinese things check it soon. His word will be checked by Wang. Iíll let you know about it.

Black Belt gets nothing from me, only criticism. Iím on them now for a series planned on Japanese budo which includes articles on jodo which some kendo teacher is writing. The jodo federation here tells me that this man is not qualified in the field and has no knowledge of what he writes. Hope to get them to realize that this sort of crap always hurts them and that they should write directly to the source for information.

(Sep. 15, 1965)

I had hoped to finish up Fighting Arts and ship it off to you. Could have but for inner wrestle with myself on just how much to put into the Japan chapter. After seeing my work, I realized that it wasnít saying enough. So, at risk of taking the edge off future works on Japanese bugei, I am going to beef up what I have and shoot the works. This will take time. For example, I expect to lengthen the Zen and Bushido sections, and this takes research and more interviews. After reading Kapleauís academic garbage (Three Pillars of Zen), I canít let it go unchallenged. Also the fact that there has been nothing on Bushido since Nitobe makes me think that our readers deserve something more than a rehash of what is already in print. I have some fabulous sources, but it will take time to dig out. In short, the new estimate on Fighting Arts from my side is sixty to ninety days. I will, however, ship off all but the Japan chapter to you by the end of this month or early next month so that you can energize it.

I need some information from you. First, what are the earliest dates you have on any "empty-hand" system in China? Names of founders, names of systems, etc. I want to tie in with something on Japan. Second, do you have tear sheets of Huís Bodhidharma article printed in Black Belt sometime after April 1965? I need it so as not to run afoul of Huís vitriolic pen and I just hate to ask Black Belt for it unless I must.

Do you have Samuel Griffithís Sun Tzu, "Art of War"? May aid you in historical bit for your China chapter.

(Feb. 18, 1966)

My portion of the manuscript may seem dry to you and a bit historic, but I think it reads all right. Brush it up a bit, but would rather that you wouldnít cut anything. Some seemingly meaningless ideas in one section often come to life elsewhere. Wait until you see all of the manuscript before judging. Finishing the last chapter in this coming week and you will get all shortly thereafter.

If you think my "half" is too long, maybe we can put this into a series of two or three lesser books, making logical divisions by countries. I donít want to see my work cut down to fit page limits given by contract; Iíd rather create two books or so. What do you think? Let me know as you tie in your sections with mine.

(Apr. 9, 1966)

Youíre awfully quiet these days; hopefully what manuscripts you received have kept you busy. Fear it is a bit lacking in general reader interest, but the facts are there and you should have plenty to work with. Undoubtedly there is too much, but I repeat, I hate to lose any of it for the sake of fitting it into a mold such as publishers usually prescribe.

If it proves to be too much, can we talk Jim Kilpatrick into a two-volume series deal? I have laid groundwork for this, and though it is not popular with him at this moment, the idea could possibly appeal to him if we both insist.

(Apr. 27, 1966)

Still in Japan and will be for some days due to delay in shipping, visas, etc. Mail that will reach me after May 10 should be held until I give you a forwarding address.

I fear my manuscript may be too heavy for your taste. I told you it would be but in spite of it, anything less solid could not become a standard. Racy, easy-reading Gilbey treatment is not what I had in mind. So, if too laborious to read, too dry, let me rewrite the Japan chapter. Iíd rather not split it up, though of course its highlights must of necessity be paraphrased in any new write-up.

Suggest that you give me a chapter of your style. Iíd prefer China as a textual balance for Japan should be about the same. When I see this, or have it in front of me, I can better gear to what you feel is best.

The present Japan manuscript I can use as the basis for a complete book on the subject. I can even amplify it using anecdotes about warriors for each weapons system. (I purposely withheld such stories for most so as not to lengthen it more.) I donít want to cut up what now stands.

(Aug. 7, 1966)

Anxious to see your manuscript but worry due to your rejection of my Japan section. If based largely on rejection of length, then the blow softens, but if because too heavy on history, then I wonder if it is wise. Anything less than the scholarly approach will be just so much reading. Nobody yet has come out with scholarly approach, though casual interest of the Gluck type [e.g., the book, Zen Combat] can be found.

As you know, Dr. Hu is now on tour out here gathering dope for future publication. Cannot get the germ of his idea for he is closed-mouth but probably it will be scholarly. Iíd like to scoop him and any others who plan similarly.

You say you will use my Korea. This should include use of Philippines, Okinawa, and my short Malaysian contribution, too. If not, let me know about this. Only holdout, as I understand it, is Japan. Right? Prefer, no insist, that the Japan section stay intact. Do not cannibalize it! I will use it as a separate manuscript for a book on Japan if I can find a publisher who is interested. The manuscript will need a lot of polish before I can do that. Do you have any ideas on this? Tied up a lot of hours and dough in that section. I will rewrite the Japan chapter when I see your trend of development of China.

(Fall 1966)

I would have answered your letter more quickly but I wanted to speak first to Nick. A more cogent reason, too Ė I simply did not have the money for the postage. I will not trouble you with my problems, except that they bear on the issue.

On the receipt of your letter I had exactly the equivalent of $7.00 in my pocket, total money in Japan. I was able to budget since my return from Australia so that the money I had would last until today when I get my royalties from Tuttle. I chose to eat rather than write to you.

I have about $7,000 tied up in manuscripts, not counting work I put in on them. I can well appreciate hardships and bankruptcy as well as the wish to get a book published. You need not tell me about any of that.

First of all, I did not miss the point on the money. As I see it, the book costs each of us money. For what, to what, by what, makes no difference. We have agreed to share royalties 50-50. I will of course honor that agreement. But the money will have to come from the proceeds of the book. Whether I (or you) take it in advance, at publication, or later, is immaterial. I had to take an advance. It covered about one-third of my expenses and then not my actual work on the book. I see the total cost as divided between us equally. Whether or not I do 10 percent of the book or 90 percent, to me thatís the way the ball bounces. Of course, I do think that when the dust settles, we will each have worked our butts off and about equally. I have many time-consuming details to attend to here with matching pictures to text, layout, proofs, etc. This is slow work, lots slower than typing and takes time from where I should perhaps better be.

I like your draft fine. But the book is yet being written. When it comes from your pen does not necessarily mean that it is completed. From my side, I must once again go over my areas of responsibility and be prepared to make changes. I do not anticipate re-writing, but as I have indicated, there is work for me in the Japan area. I must restore the balance to the weapons, especially the blade. I have also found some historical inaccuracies, perhaps my fault from the first, but not completely so. I also have taken your instruction on cutting from jutsu-do area. I will dress up to blend these necessary modifications so that the text is again continuous and readable.

Do not think that I have fallen down on this book and given it over to something else. I am fulltime on it. From 5 a.m. each day to 8 I bang this machine. Then, as time permits during the day, I get in a few more keys. I am just as interested in putting it in the best possible shape as you are and I sure am working on it. Iím at a Zen temple studying sword in Chiba and I can get a lot done there.

What work I do on the book has in no way affected the publication date. The Fighting Arts manuscript is going right along, but money keeps me short of finalizing any one portion to send to you. Iíve got several grand invested in translations, pictures, artwork, etc. and itís tied up. This is why I wanted no deal with Jim Kilpatrick on Fighting Arts until he got my Judo for Young Men (second book) under way. He is not anxious to start it and would rather tackle Fighting Arts. In this way I stand to be delayed and lose my investment. The manuscript sits around (already one year) and may never get done this way. Last week they told me okay, theyíd do Kata book. Yesterday they canceled when your letter arrived about Fighting Arts. Hell. Iíll be forced now to let them take Fighting Arts if you have no other publisher. Do you have a good deal? If not, letís give it to Kilpatrick. I will still send you sample of my write up for one country so you can see slant.

I need advance money, substantial, to continue work. Iíve already spent over $200 on it for translations, books, etc. I will ask for $500 for my part. Do you want any? If not, I will have my first money reduced accordingly as you get full amount. Please let me know on this.

I have used quite detailed and accurate historic approach to Fighting Arts. Causes research, but after seeing it written I think it makes a better book and is of course more scholarly.

Questions: have you anything in depth on Chinese chiao-ti and Korean pakchigi; head butting techniques. They may be related. Korean culture center here in Tokyo is writing to Korea for dope. They tell me it is possibly related since Korean butting is done mostly in northern border areas to China.

If things go well, I will send sections about Philippines, Korea, or Malaysia to you for review. Japan is proving big. I plan to get more detailed than original plan. Will create subsections on Zen, Michi, and Bushido, as they are the philosophical cement for all Japanese fighting arts. This is taking laborious time in translations. Have found gem volumes, old. Ancient kanji requires Todai professor to translate. I have some real good dope, never before put out in English. Philippine section is being held up by slow embassy staff who is attempting to get data for me. All projects are finally slowed down because I have no spare money to pay translators. The advance from Kilpatrick will cure this.

Iíve taken each country and opened with a section I call Combative Rationale. An historical unrolling of facts pertaining to combatives since earliest records up until modern times. Research is necessary, but is rewarding when final product is seen. When you get sample, energize it with fancy words and give me a frank opinion. I believe we must have historic detail and accuracy to be meaningful.

So, if you have no publisher for Fighting Arts at this time, letís get Kilpatrick to handle it. He wants it bad and is no problem to get contract. If you drop line and suggest that since we have reputation we should get best deal: 12-1/2 percent or at least 10 percent. Nothing less. (He gave me 8 percent for Judo for Young Men.) Also write idea of the size of the book. I think a bit short of 300 pages will be good. Sale price would be $10-$12. Artwork in book, color plates, etc., will bring it up to scholarly standards.

Just found Chinese painting this afternoon in small shop; estimate Ming Dynasty. Shows courtyard Tíai Chi practice and sword exercises on the verandah. Will take it to a museum for identification. Can use in your section!

(Feb. 6, 1968)

Iím up to my neck in three major books and five magazine deadlines per month. Iím now at ten to fifteen hours daily on this damn monster with its 26 beady, black eyes staring up at me.

I saw your Fighting Arts write-up and liked it. Casual treatment and readable. Will adjust my share accordingly. Do not spend your time rewriting Japan. I will do this. The whole chapter, frankly, is out of balance because the empty hand stuff was never big in Japan. Weapons are the thing and must reflect so in the text. I also think it is too close to what I sent you, which will be the skeleton basis of a solitary book I am doing myself. Therefore I will rewrite. I can do this in less than one month. The old text has already doubled for the new book and looks real hot.

Will review all you send in and especially Indonesia. Separate it from Malaya since weapons and systems have little resemblance there. Both went separate ways in combatives apart from common initial influence of China and India. Iím heavy on Indonesian stuff, but will not change anything you write unless in error. Iím writing a book on that country, alone as you know.

This is a new subject. Must go back to Indonesia once more to complete research. Would you be interested and able to accompany two others and me into this area? It will be a real safari off the beaten track. It will be mainly Moluccas, Sumatra, and Borneo, but of course other areas and Malaya. I am serious and if you are interested, we plan to go in late May or early June. It will be a two or three month trip, but might go four. You could leave at any time or join us at any portion of it. We will accompany an expedition from the Djakarta museum on one or two interesting projects in West Java. You could really get your nose into kuntao systems as they are done there. Fantastic stuff. If you wanted to tag along with us on weapons stuff, you would be welcome. Let me know Ė we begin planning soon.

My pentjak silat compilation is authentic. Your dance authority is typical of those who have no real knowledge. Much like the Japanese interpretations of bugei and budo as to what constitutes definition. I assure you that all pentjak experts agree with my definition. It really is theirs.

Am following up hard on Fighting Arts here and will do my best, but after May I will be gone.

(Feb. 9, 1968)

Will be able to get at the rewrite of Japan next month. About three weeks will do it for sure. I will be out at Katori Shrine, studying iaijutsu, kenjutsu, bojutsu, sojutsu, and shuriken jutsu for a full five weeks, so will not be in Tokyo. Living with monks I can really concentrate and get the thing off easily.

Iíve talked to Kodansha and they will follow my advice. We can get what we want, within reason of course.

As to money, I took a $300 advance, as you know, but my interviews alone cost more, to say nothing of secretarial and photos. I donít think one can do a book of this size on less than $1,000 today. I plan that what I drew will come from my share of our total to be paid to us upon publication of the book. I do not plan to have you absorb that.

(Apr. 12, 1968)

Iíve redone Japan and you will get a copy. It opens a bit more strongly. The original notes that you worked from started slowly, more like an encyclopedia. Too scholarly. So I put more punch in it. I also revitalized most of the text to keep up with the fine pace in your portions. Itís less tedious now and more casual, but with good meat as I think you will agree. I took out michi-do discussion and will use elsewhere; it would be a shame to cut that down as you suggested and then leave only unusable scraps. Itís too good in my opinion to share that fate. The new michi-do discussion is shorter and to the point.

Have read all your material carefully. I made a few very minor adjustments, mostly in my areas. Syntax and grammar in yours excellent, but a few typos have been caught.

Iím busy working out layout, pictures, etc. Iíll handle all this here and check each proof that comes out. You will see them, too.

Things are better financially now, after royalties. Iím trying now to get my weight back. Iím about 188 now and with weight training can do it in five or six weeks. Really weak from lack of food over the last many months, though. Glad that Kodansha shiai for 5-dan is off for this year. I would not like to spoil my record. (So far Iím undefeated.)

The Weider publication still owed me money. You were wrong. They are not a second-rate outfit, they are four fingers down the throat! Aside from misspelling my name and cocking up the text in many places, they never paid me beyond the first two articles. I have submitted enough to keep a monthly chain through the end of the year.

Will attend to other things in connection with Fighting Arts. Shouldnít the title be East Asian Fighting Arts? "Asia" is a misnomer, as we do not touch on enough countries to give that balance. We are largely eastern oriented. Let me know your feelings. Title change is good, but word "fighting" gets more sales according to Kodansha. Iíll work it out with them.

(May 7, 1968)

Iíve started work on final selection of pictures. Some old ones were taken out and some new ones added. I think by now you have my rewrite of Japan. I hope it is satisfactory to you, barring some typos and a bit of restructuring. It reads far more casually than did the other and is in better pace with your sections. Iíve added more explanations along simple lines, especially in jutsu and do. I will use the original I sent you in another book. Also, the new anecdotes spice up the reading a bit. Make what syntax and other changes you want, but please keep off major changes. I think what you have now will suffice.

Iím sorting negatives at the moment. Itís a bastard of a job and slow. So loaded down with details that you wouldnít believe it. Iím about going nuts. I need that safari for rest!

Each time I go out, so many things come up that I come away without. Itís not as easy as it may sound. I leave the house at 5 a.m. and have to carry my Nikon all day, otherwise it might be lifted. When Iím in Tokyo, I donít return to the house until late at night. Most of the time, though, Iím at the Katori Shrine studying iaido.

(June 5, 1968)

Have worked over the manuscript according to your edit. Appreciate the typo and grammatical check. Admittedly I am lax on this, as I think that is what editors are for. On the other hand I realize that I am overdoing the laxness.

Ryu does not translate to "school." I have elaborated on that on the corrected copy. Letís stick to that term and educate the reader.

My endorsement of [Kyokushin Kaiís Mas] Oyama is factual. No Japanese system has such a broad basis. Why be afraid of the truth? Iím prepared to defend it, so to hell with the soft pedal when it is true. The ninja privy story is factual and commonly related whenever martial arts are discussed.

Though I have my own opinion on italics, dates, etc., I wonít fight against what is called standard. Like Emily Post, the standard is outdated, but nobody ever bothers to rework it.

I still think the title rather than the foreword must include the Far East limitation. We are not dealing with the entire area, and it leaves room for a follow-up book. Why the hard-nosed hold on "Asia" only?

All in all, we have a winner. A bit more "tightening" as you say and itíll be ready.

Off for Indonesia tomorrow. Will be back on schedule to aid with final layout.

(Sep. 2, 1969)

Kodansha shuffled personnel. A gal is now in charge. Things are really delayed there. Iím mad, too, as the pentjak silat book that was promised for September will now be published in January at the earliest.

Iím working over the text of Fighting Arts and find some mixed places (dates, etc.). I will adjust here. Be sure you insist on corrections before they print new editions.

Iím also working on a three-volume manuscript dealing with the history of the Japanese martial arts. The old notes I sent you are the basis, but much has been added, to include tremendous graphics. Itís been smoothed up to where it now presents a professional appearance. Many, including Weatherhill, want to publish it, but I havenít decided. Tuttle continues to screw me Ė and others. One man here approached me indirectly in regard to getting somebody to pitch Tuttle in the canal in settlement for debts owed him. Many are after his tail.

Off on field trips to finish the manuscript. Got some good things lined up to photograph and study. There is much here, but it has to be dug up.

(Oct. 6, 1971)

Weatherhill has my manuscript on bujutsu. Itís the first in a series of three. Itís not my opus; that is still to be raked over. By the end of this year I hope to have book one of six ready for contract with whoever gives me the best deal. After that, one per year for five years. I will not split this series.

(Oct. 21, 1971)

Iíll buzz Tuttle. He is a real bastard. (Thatís French for bastard.) When I asked him how he was making more profit in the face of rising costs he blew his stack. This was over my complaint to him about taking my Training Methods off the market. In relation to that, I will redo it and republish it with somebody else. Tuttle is four years behind on all manuscripts except the small ones. He is cheating as usual and most are disgusted with him but have no other place to go. He has two more of mine on a contract basis. Then Iím through unless he buys them outright at my terms.

(Nov. 4, 1972)

I left two manuscripts with Weatherhill before I left: Classical Bujutsu and Budo. Itís funny what dumb things can happen in oneís absence. The first of the books is to appear before Christmas. Iím furious over the editorís liberties with my graphics, and rather than use my captions he substituted ones he chose. Of course there are errors, and itíll appear that Iím stupid. Too late now to change, as the plates are made, but I will demand corrections for the next edition. I also asked that a foreword be done. It wasnít. And a small page of acknowledgments was also left out. Damn. The book will be a good one in spite of these matters. You will get a copy.

Iíll try to insist on closer liaison with books two and three. Weatherhill is in good financial shape. They have a new office building (it cost a fortune) and are looking for new material. I have tentatively (subject to approval of the manuscript) given him one on Shaolin and one on silat.

Kodansha limps along. Iím a bit disgusted with their distribution and general slowness.

(Apr. 12, 1973)

The recent letter (you have a copy) from Kodansha regarding their not complying with the contract to increase royalties after 7,000 copies is being given a big fat no from my end. While I can understand their point of view, I also have to survive, and look forward to bettering my lot as is called for in the contract. My case may be different from yours, as my only income is from royalties. Thus Kodansha royalties on Fighting Arts are about 30 percent of my annual income. I am living on less than $2,500 per year to get my study done. I simply cannot afford to take less money under any circumstances. I see no like offer within Kodansha, beginning with its president, to cut all salaries. They must therefore cut down overhead, not from authors (who get pee-poor amounts anyhow) but from within their own overpaid and overstaffed complement. Let me hear from you on what you will tell them.

Have you received Indonesian Fighting Arts and Classical Bujutsu yet? You were on the list. Tuttle has screwed around with my choices for copies to the point that I donít know who got them and who did not. Classical Budo is now in the layout stage. It should be out this fall. Modern Budo is on my desk and will be in to Weatherhill by late May.

(June 1, 1973)

Yesterday I went to Kodansha to collect my royalties. Jules Young and Homer Neal sounded me out on making soft-cover edition for Fighting Arts. I made not one approval of anything, just mentioned that I was interested in hearing what they would offer.

Frankly, I am against it. Fighting Arts has a working life of at least another five or six years, and even with the small amount that nets us, it will still be more than a soft-cover royalty provides. They try to impress by saying that soft-cover means lower prices and more sales, but avoid saying that it means less percentage, too. My best experience and advice from those in the business is not to do it. Bestsellers can author big profit in paperback editions, but our book is not that kind of seller in a total, overall book sense.

I think that soft-cover now will kill sales of the hardcover edition that they say will continue to be made. Inasmuch as the soft-cover is for US distribution, and this is the big side of our sales, the idea, if accepted, will kill the major source of our take. Worse, it wonít take long for foreign prospective buyers to send to the US for soft-back edition in preference to the hardcover sold in their country.

Please donít commit yourself, but of course listen to what they offer. Keep in touch with me. One thing. They are hurting on this, for I am about to leave Japan on my annual expedition to Southeast Asia, and they want to go into action by fall. It may not be possible even if we okay the idea because I am not here and cannot take the time now to get negatives or pictures out of storage for their use.

This is a bad time for me. If publishers would pay me what they owe me, Iíd be some four grand better off. Tuttle steals my royalties, Weatherhill is sitting on three manuscripts and canít make a decision as to advance money, Kodansha is always late, and magazines such as Orientations have bought series from me, but paid for none, although they have already printed the first article in their March 1973 issue. Damn. Last week I went three days without food; this week I have been able to eat only three times. Iím down to 187 pounds (from the 207 you know me by) because of it. Can you believe this can happen? This is why I have no general feeling of sympathy for publishers. They spend more on booze in one month than I get in royalties.

P.S. I borrowed this aerogram Ė I canít afford one. No crap!

(June 16, 1973)

Youíre right Ė my coming trip will put me in better condition. At least I will be able to eat regularly, and the trek will tone me up. But Iím not in the mental dumps, just peed at the turn of events with the jokers I must deal with. Easy to starve because of them. Take no income (I refuse to bring more dollars here because you automatically lose thirty cents per dollar in exchange Ė I have a cultural exchange visa which forbids me to work) and try to live on a high-priced economy. My budget is based strictly on royalties. When these small amounts are late in appearing, or are greatly reduced by the greed of publishers, I suffer. Laugh of laughs, with my lack of eating properly, I picked up a touch of scurvy. Iím now on high C vitamins and it is already clearing up, and Iíll suck Malaysian limes all summer.

Donít credit the present Kodansha staff for being either fully competent or straight. Charlie Mitchell had a big run-in on contract and money matters, and did not get what he expected for his ukiyo-e book until he threatened to take them to court. Take my (and our) examples. I knew nothing of plans to make a soft-cover version of Fighting Arts until it was mentioned casually and in a non-businesslike way the day I appeared for my royalties, which were three weeks late. Nothing firm was said, just the idea in the rough. From what Iíve been told, the soft-cover deal is crap. Maybe you have other figures, but here is what I understand. About 5 percent is to be split between you, me, Kodansha, and an agent arranging a deal with some US outfit. This gives us just a bit over 1 percent each. The total run is 15,000 copies. The advance is about $1,000 against sales. Figure it out. It takes no genius to see that aside from killing sales of our hardback edition, where at least we get some money, we will get far less in royalties. Even with several other editions, our take will fall way below what we get now. My competent friends (legal and publishing) tell me that it is a crappy deal. Your idea of 200,000 copies would be fine, but this is not in the deal with Kodansha. I wonít fight you on this, but unless you have figures other than I have, refigure again and let me know your final opinion, which I will support here.

There is a snag if they want negatives or pictures. For over a year I have been slowly phasing out here. I am planning to set up shop at Kona, Hawaii, where I have some land and will build, among other things, a dojo and an international martial culture research center. I hope to tie the latter into the University of Hawaii museum people. Much of my gear is in Hawaii, and the negatives and pictures are on the way. So it will be late fall before I can get at them. If Kodansha needs them now, they are out of luck.

One more example about Kodansha. In regard to Pentjak-silat, they told me that they will soft-cover it. Inasmuch as it was not covered by contract, we have to renegotiate. Actually, it is covered by contract, and it says that Kodansha must pay me 50 percent of the royalties they receive. Now, after my mention of the contract clause that deals with the soft edition, they are silent (and grim).

This financial crisis of mine is not sudden. I saw it coming and got busy writing articles for magazines in hope of quick payments. At present, no money has been received from three magazines, all of which have accepted stuff from me. The total outstanding is about one grand. Weatherhill owes me about two grand in advances, but Tex is in New York frigging around and canít make a decision on prices of a manuscript he has accepted and wonít pay for it until the new fiscal year.

Did you get Classical Bujutsu? I had a copy sent to you, as I did with Weapons and Fighting Arts of Indonesia. The former is going fast and already a new deal is in the mill with the Philippines for a reprint that will net me more cash. All I have to do is collectÖ

(July 1, 1973)

In view of your information received from Kodansha, it is obvious that I am not getting proper notification from them. Nothing in writing, and words spoken all vague. What they tell me is somewhat different from what they write you. Inasmuch as my information is later than yours, letís be sure things have not changed since they wrote you.

First, reference Fighting Arts royalties as hardback. The contract does not simply say it is to be renegotiated, but that it is to be increased through negotiation. I continue to hold out for this as all contracts do the same. Weatherhill pays 10, then 12-1/2, and even 15 percent on subsequent editions. Why should Kodansha be less able?

Iím still unhappy in face of competent advice here that says that Kodansha is giving us nothing solid. The copy price quoted me would be less than four bucks, maybe as low as $2.95. Itís things like this that I want to see spelled out, in writing, before I even move to accept a deal. Thus, while agreeing basically with the idea, until I get the precise proposal in writing, I cannot come to a conclusion. Iíll keep in touch with Kodansha on this.

I take it that you have sent all the pictures and graphics that you could find. Mine are in the post on their way to Kona. I canít get at them until November at the earliest.

(July 15, 1973; copy of letter to Jules Young, Kodansha International, Tokyo, Japan)

Dear Jules:

Bob Smith and I are in agreement over the general idea of a soft-cover edition for Fighting Arts. But, speaking for myself, until I see the actual terms in the form of a contract I cannot give you my final approval for this project. I also understand from Bob that you are able to use a process by which my pictures (now en route to Kona) will not be necessary; perhaps this is best under the circumstances, especially when you wish to expedite things.

As regards the current contract for Fighting Arts (hardcover), I can certainly understand your position about rising costs, and thus your proposal to retain the present ten percent royalty level. But no less me, il fau de líargent ["money is necessary"]; I depend entirely on royalties and advances for my living.

Fighting Arts is a fine book, and its sales, though slow, are steady. This book represents the many years hard work and experiences of professional men, both as authors and experts, in the field of martial culture. This is why the royalty rate was set at ten instead at some lower rate. Speaking for myself, I must insist on an increase in royalties as is stipulated in the contract; this is just recompense for my part in making this book possible. Frankly, I donít believe that the slight increase in royalties will cost you as much as salary hikes and bonus payments you have made, and contemplate making, to your employees since the publication of this book. Surely none of your employees, including yourself, continue to work over the years without at least a hope for betterment. Authors too, should not be expected to waive a chance for an increase in their royalties, no matter what operational problems you incur, for they receive little enough money as it is. Moreover, inasmuch as my other publishers all have, and continue to offer an initial ten percent royalty with increments to twelve and one-half and fifteen percent, I think Kodansha should be able to do likewise.

It is not my place, nor my intention, to meddle in your business affairs, but there are many areas in your operations that apparently are sources of unnecessary loss of revenue for you. In particular I point to distribution and sales. I have seen with my own eyes, in foreign countries, the lack of getting your product before the eyes of the reading world. I constantly get letters from people wanting to read your martial arts and ways books, but all complain, "Where can we find these ruddy books in our country?" Your distribution is, frankly, not efficient. I have for years criticized this phase of your operations, as you know, but little has come of it. May I, therefore, once again suggest that you look into this prospect of increasing your sales through better distribution methods and outlets (and thereby increase your revenue), instead of asking authors to receive less (by keeping status quo) in this world of rising costs of living.

cc: Smith


(Nov. 20, 1973)

Anything from Kodansha? Bet not, at least on advance payment for the soft-back venture. The last I heard was "Weíll see if an advance can be paid." Any bets?

(Jan. 8, 1974)

Nothing from Kodansha yet. They do little, talk a lot, and get pay raises and fatter while sales lag. At least they appear to be honest, not like Tuttle who steals and covers it with some excuses. Iíve only got two more with him, then Iím done unless he buys direct from me on a take-all basis. My new books will be with somebody else. Iíve got some fabulous stuff.

Iíve got a new manuscript on Shaolin being put together. Itís a good one. It will stress lohan southern techniques not before given out in English (and damn little in Chinese). Itís a kosher style. This plus my one working on Shantung Black Tiger (a northern style) brings me into your field. Iím not going to do more than linger, for Iím busy back in my other areas of specialty, but inasmuch as I have studied these arts a bit and believe them to be good, I have gotten the okay of master teachers to do a basic text in English. After that I will hasten back into more familiar areas. Over the next five years I will be bringing out several specifics on Southeast Asian countries and the beginning of my ten volume series on bujutsu and budo should appear. The current Weatherhill three are introductory efforts.

(Nov. 7, 1974)

I am sick about the Kodansha thing. I will go in strong and argue, but it is rather late for this now. A strong letter from you to Homer might bolster my pitch. Can I count on one in the next few weeks? We are really getting screwed, but I will try. Be sure that your letter is clear and no fuddying around. Make the point to Homer.

I gave them a chance at a Shaolin manuscript I have, hoping they could not do it simply to please me. They canít, and I am relieved, for I have several other better offers. Anyway, the books they now do ae cheesy things. And what they did to your fine book Ė that kung-fu thing on the cover, I mean! Did you okay that? Sort of at odds with your text.

(Mar. 21, 1975)

What is with Kodansha re our division of money for soft-back Fighting Arts? Clue me and then I can better try to deal with those bums. Also remind Jules to give me review copies of your latest two. Nothing from them on this score.

(Nov. 2, 1976)

Sound out Homer about a Japanese version of Asian Fighting Arts. I have a meeting soon with a pure Japanese publisher who will do an art book on sumo art that I have completed and want to flog. If Homer is slow to act, let me know and I might get our book into other good hands. This guy is now considering doing my trilogy in Japanese. That would shock a lot of would-be budoka.

(Jan. 1, 1981)

Weíre getting ripped by Kodansha. I never knew when the Fighting Arts book was to be restylized. I had a list of corrections that must be made to bring it into better form. Jules blames not having contact with me, but this is rubbish because my mail is always forwarded. Iím damn angry because the book should have been updated. Then too we split a 5 percent royalty as you suspected, which benefits them because they didnít have to pay 12-1/2 percent. What is done is done, but canít we at least bitch formally and ask that the 12-1/2 percent royalty be paid on the basis that neither of us were asked about the new deal? Iíll go along with anything you do, but cut me in on what it is. At least we must let them know that we know what their strategy is and that we are not ignorant about how it works. More and more Kodansha is screwing tight on authors. They used to be quite straight. Iím not doing any more for them, although they sponsor me here in Japan. If they get nervous about my not doing a manuscript for them I always have something in the rough that I can give them first option on, knowing that they will reject it. I hate working that way, but it is the only way to avoid a further fleecing. Weatherhill is the only good one of the lot Ė and even heís not fully straight.

(Feb. 28, 1981)

Re Kodansha, sure it is SOP to give back half royalty on paperbacks, but the way they went about it is what I am bitching about. We should have had the chance to make corrections; our book has numerous errors that must be cleaned up. I had no warning on this printing. Jules has been top for a long time; Homer is useless, fatter than ever, and just milks his job for a fat salary. By the way, he is not in favor of any "martial arts" manuscripts. Best to work around him.

(June 25, 1981)

Kodansha continues to screw us. Iím not eager to go back to them with new stuff. They have grown into a full-blown group of esthetes, overpaid and unmindful of their authors.

JCS Apr 2002