JCS/The Great Enablers:
Donn F. Draeger


Extracts from letters written by Donn F. Draeger to Robert W. Smith. Letters in the Joseph R. Svinth collection, reprinted courtesy of Robert W. Smith and Joseph R. Svinth. Copyright © 2000. All rights reserved.

(June 2, 1972)

I have good support for academic study of world martial culture in germ stage at the University of Hawaii; the director of the East-West Studies Center is a friend of Quintin Chambers who is assisting me on various projects.

(July 1, 1973)

Kona is paradise. Iíve ambled around this glob (not misspelled) that we call earth, and insofar as the US is concerned, if one must live somewhere, for me it is Kona. Climate, scenery, people, food, availability of things, etc., are all to my liking.

The idea for the international martial culture research center is an old one. It came into focus in 1970 when I was traveling with the Japanese bujutsu masters. I have friends there to aid in domestic issues. Quintin Chambers, my buddy here in Tokyo for twelve-odd years, is already in Kona with his whole household. He is the advanced echelon for the effort, and the tie-in to the University of Hawaii on the study. We will be teaching local police and civilians various arts. Aside from this we have several smalltime projects in mind to keep us in cash. Writing in Kona would be a cinch.

You are most welcome, Bob. We need help and would like you to join us. Aside from being a personal shot in the arm for you and your family in retirement, you would be most happy with the environment there. It has changed little since 1944, but several important things for your consideration and action. Land, for example. Rental, lease, or purchase? My very good friends are old Tokyoites. Now living in Kona by choice after suffering the high costs and lousy living conditions here in smog-filled Tokyo, they are in various businesses including running charters for marlin and real estate. Get off a letter right away and introduce yourself. I have sent a letter mentioning that you are a friend of mine and that they are to help you. Though you indicate that retirement is five years away, it is smart to get your land now. Prices are continually rising and even if you change your mind you will have an investment that pays 9 to 16 percent per year. They can advise on the land available. There is some, but they need to know what you have in mind. I recommend that you select an area up the mountain Ė the beach is for tourists Ė so that you can enjoy Mauana Kea and Mauana Loa in your backyard.

One reason Kona is so good is that there are not too many people residing there. Itís unbelievable to walk without being leaned on, or to drive for hours and see only a couple of cars.

Iím in love with Kona.

(January 18, 1976)

Will be in Hawaii until mid-April. Any chance that you might be coming through? Would like to learn of your plans, especially if they include Hawaii. We may have something real good going for all of us at the University or the East-West Center, or both. Too much to discuss in letters, but you might be interested in the planned program.

(May 25, 1976)

Iíll give you a rundown on Hawaii later. In essence we may be starting an international center there for a study of world martial culture. It will be a repository for artifacts, weapons, books, films, etc. The building will be about the size of the US exhibition building at the Exposition on Okinawa. Itís a costly project that will take time and finance. I may accept a fellowship to do a feasibility study in Hawaii later this year.

(November 2, 1976)

I received a fully funded grant by the East-West Center to do a project called Conserving Cultural Values (Asia). I will be researching Polynesian martial culture for about six months. Some off-lying island trips, but mostly at the Center in Honolulu. Additionally, I have been approved to teach a seminar at the University of Hawaii, a pilot program on martial culture. Iíll have a free hand in setting the subject matter. This is a real boost for a new academic study I am trying to implement under the new department of hoplology. Academic opposition to me because I do not yet have the initials Ph.D. after my name has been thwarted. My February seminars at the East-West Center and the University of Hawaii got me support from the anthropology and history department top men. They put me through an oral on Asian history and they ended up on the short end when I could answer all they asked and give them back things with which they had no familiarity. I am elated for this may be the start of what I (and a small young staff of sixteen) have been working on for many years.

(November 13, 1976)

Busy as hell planning my Hawaii junket. Itís a study and teaching stint at the East-West Center and the University of Hawaii. We have lots of plans (mostly sound), but are limited by availability of coin of the realm. What I am proposing there takes a bit of pilf, and news is that all departments have to cut back. Damn. When I think of all the taxpayersí money that is going into things like the new super-duper tank development, I could cry. We need that monstrosity like a spare dick at a wedding. When is the US going to get over its superlative complex Ė first, bigger, better? This damn tank will only stimulate others to build a super-duper super gun that will blast the super-duper hell out of our tank, ad infinitum.

(December 25, 1977)

I had a hectic year. Time went too quickly. From Hawaii to Southeast Asia for fieldwork and now back to Japan. I have spent less than three months in Japan this year and next year looks about the same.

(February 20, 1979)

Hoplology is getting stabilized and now I turn my attention toward making the worldís first textbook. Publishers donít seem interested, and are more stingy than ever these days.

We are establishing the International Hoplological Research Center in Hawaii. The legal work is now proceeding. One publication is a newsletter called Hoplos. I need your help here. Can you have the right agency send me papers for application on copyright number (US ISSN) and also the appropriate things for copyrighting our logo? No rush, but Iíd like to get at it.

(January 1, 1981)

Have been unable to cope with my schedule. After returning from my fieldwork (Sri Lanka, etc.), I found 22 kg of mail awaiting my hand. Only now emerging at great cost of fitness and training time.

I hear about you from time to time from passers by. Iíll be here until April, then maybe Europe for the first International Hoplological Congress or a stint at some stateside university teaching basic hoplology. Several options in the latter; meanwhile I must ready my lecture notes.

I am flat out on researching the administrative structure, theoretics, methods, and research strategies for hoplology. It will appear in a textbook that I am writing. Averaging about 60-70 letters per month in this track. It is only a matter of time before hoplology has full academic respectability.

(February 28, 1981)

We are trying to bring our research center library into shape and hope to have the worldís largest collection of weapons and systems related books. My trip to Europe produced some old formal volumes dating back to the 1400s that we have been given permission to microfilm or photocopy. The originals are priceless. They were found in private castle holdings in Sweden, France, and Switzerland.

Iím flat out with ordinary manuscripts and the hoplology textbook. I want to finish that before I "go West." To formulate and institute a new discipline in the academic world is anything but easy, but we are making progress. The next five years will be crucial. After that I may be able to work at being useless.

Youíve retired? How about joining us in Hawaii? No place to crash Ė we canít get started on the physical plant until 1982 at the earliest -- but we have land and are now establishing the legal structure for our center. I need a head for our publications department and this sounds like you. Read Hoplos for bits of information about what we are doing.

Hawaiian weather canít be beaten.

(June 25, 1981)

Just back from about two months in Honolulu. Got our centerís legal status organized and we are now pending IRS approval for our status as a tax-exempt educational institution. Managed also to set up (or more exactly, type and discuss) the statutes of the International Jodo Federation which will be set up in Geneva.

JCS Jan 2000