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.
(February 18, 1966)
[Isao] Inokuma and I are making a world trip starting in May. We will be in and out of Japan all year. I leave in late March to go into Philippines, Borneo, Celebes, and Sumatra for research. Will get more data and pictures. Expecting a stint of teaching in Australia and New Zealand. A few other budoka will accompany to show kendo, karate, etc. Masatoshi Nakayama of the Japan Karate Association will be the karateka.
(June 1, 1967)
Aboard Ratu Rosario, Bali Sea
These areas fabulous. Have opened a new world to myself on weapons and arts.
Finished combing Timor (Portuguese and Indonesian) and also Flores. Primarily bladed weapons (parang), but one fighting system uses a man to crouch behind the combatant whilst holding his hips, steering him against a similarly 'guided' opponent. Combatants are free to strike and kick each other. Comical but true and competitions are held each month.
On way to Java, Bali, Sumatra, have introduction to Dr. Soeksmono, famed anthropologist and expert on fighting arts this area. Will also meet with Djcenali in Jogjakarta on silat.
May be away longer than expected due to fantastic sources here. Wish you could be along for I know you'd enjoy it.
Reported villagers of Tjibéo keep area sacred -- none can enter save chosen few by introduction. These people eat carrion and religion forbids letting blood for food. Reported however can 'kill by strike of hand.' Will investigate possible tie in with silat. Have introduction and guide for this project.
Kris data fantastic. Will visit top maker (functional not tourist crap) in Java. Has world's best collection. Also will comb book shops.
P.S. Contact me at:
C/O Capt. Charles Eather
Cathay Pacific Airways
1 Connaught Road
Will arrive there mid-to-late this month.
(June 10, 1967)
Here on Bali we have found paradise -- an oasis after many hot, hard weeks trek in the jungles of Timor and the Sundas. We walked the length of Timor, living off the land, now we can forget the over 200 km hike on Flores with the heat and dirt.
This country is enchanting with lovely, gentle, honest and hospitable people. We will find it hard to leave.
The management (Tokyo Oxura) has asked us to give daily demos on bugei/budo and in exchange we have been put in a $35.00 per day suite and all expenses. It is a penthouse corner room overlooking scenic Bali Bay.
But as luxurious as it is, we continue our work here. You'd be in heaven here seeing what we are uncovering (not the broads -- they are already so).
The wealth of info on the fighting systems of Indonesia (the whole archipelago) here is so great that now that it is unlocked, I realize just how superficial my knowledge has been.
I am sure that what I have uncovered, and the rest to follow, will materially add to your section on Indonesia for Asian Fighting Arts. I can't begin to tell you of the depth to which I am now able to penetrate the combatives here. I have gotten the complete cooperation of all officials (pentjak organizations, judo, etc.), the military, the police and local citizens. Three famous professors (anthropology and curators) have agreed to fill in historical background.
In exchange we are giving demonstrations of Japanese bugei/budo and teaching judo, jodo, and iaido, plus taihojutsu [Japanese police self-defense method] to the police.
There are about 2,000 statues adorning the temples of this island, all of which depict the most interesting mudra [symbolic hand positions] I have ever seen anywhere. I have toured and seen 1,000 statues and will photograph as many. Plan to return here next year with private TV film company (Tokyo) to do documentaries on dances (ketchak, jangger, etc.), music, and Asian Fighting Arts. I will stay 3 months and do a book which tentatively I envision as Indonesian Hinduistic Imagery: Combative Essences.
Bali pentjak-silat has 2 main styles, one the older, Bahkti negara which utilizes a lot of deceptive action and is very tiring to do; the other Parisai diri, a modern synthesis. Have seen and discussed these with top experts. All refer to northern Chinese methods, but have evidence of southern Chinese Shaolin-ssu [temple] roots (if there is such a place). Short or half arm actions abundant, but emphasis on legwork characterizes both styles.
The west Sumatra pentjak is here too (we will travel to Sumatra later). One other is in Negara area which we will visit on West Bali upon exit. There the participants use autohypnosis -- inflict self-made wounds prior to engagement and apply trance-like state to endure attack of other. Style under Muslim influence and is known as joduk; it is secret, but we have invite to see.
Local Chinese university prof -- history and expert on fighting arts here -- is my constant companion. Is giving me facts that have never been revealed to any outsider before.
After Bali we move on to central and west Java where aside from central styles of pentjak I have reports on the carrion-eating tribe which 'kills by stroke of hand,' and Bataks out of Sumatra with unusual knife technique.
Still another investigation, for which we must pack horse safari into mountain region in desolate west Java, is the tjikalong style and the whip fighters of Maduin area.
This whole project has snowballed into something extremely complex and to run out on it now would leave me frustrated. Am extending tour until July to get all data. From Java-Sumatra, going to Celebes, Ruru, Moluccas, Halmakera, Borneo, before Philippines and finally Hong Kong. Problem is money rather than time. I can ill afford either, but coin is our worry now. Living off land -- camping on ground to save expenses. Crossed Timor and Sunda Islands by walking and hitchhiking. Walked 200 km on Timor alone!!!
Will stay in touch. Write me in Hong Kong. ETA there about 25-30 June. Can you send Asian Fighting Arts section there?
(June 11, 1967)
Forgot to tell you that on envelope of book on boxing that I have mailed you, there are some stamps which are not visible.
They are the Irian Barat issue which is prohibited by the new govt. for use abroad. I put them on, then covered them with the normal usable stamps. Maybe you or some collector friend will enjoy them. They are no longer issued.
Am sending short history of Bali fighting art write-up. This will arrive before my notes which I will send to you to incorporate in your write-up. Suggest if you haven't started to hold Indonesia in abeyance pending my complete trip and collected data.
This A.M., learned of 4 more W. Java styles and will see demo this P.M. Known as mainpo, one is extremely bent toward use of the golok or short-bladed knife. Tjikampek, tjikabong, tjimande, tjimatjan, and tjiuler styles of the Bandang area will also be demonstrated. A real wealth of info here!
(June 23, 1967)
Ponorogo, Central Java
Left Bali and East Java without hitch -- and lots of info. Will incorporate my notes after leaving Java for Celebes.
Now located out of Maduin in hope of tracking down the famous whip and chain fighters of this area. Saw one demo today, with more tomorrow at festival event. Will exchange our skills with them.
Bit like chasing a will-o'-the-wisp in many cases. On Bali it was, "Sorry, Tua, if you'd stay a day longer I could take you to an old man who can touch you and you can't move." While seeing much good stuff, nothing astonishing yet. Maybe same here. After here into Jogja and on to west areas for silat there.
(July 8, 1967)
Finished Java tour -- had to cancel Sumatra and Borneo. Running out of both time and money. Have minimal data on them but can fill in later. Made contact here with native historian who is clueing me in on info of this fascinating island. Is authority on his people the Bugis. Dug through old ms in museum -- some from 16th century pirate records. Other Dutch scholars records with sketches and pictures fabulous. Will travel inland to jungle -- mountain people in interior but cutting it short to make ship to Ceram (Moluccas). Have intro to Catholic prof of history there who can supply data on weapons and fighting styles of the area. Have interesting lead on stick fighting style on Buru island. Hard to get to, with safari and investigation.
After Ambon, on to Terrate in the Halmaheras -- Maradu in Minahasa Celebes (north) -- into Sulu Archipelago and on to Manela, Hong Kong, Tokyo by early August.
I have wealth of data and experience (3 combats with silat men; more later). Will report later. Will be Hong Kong by early August. Appreciate letter at Cathay address I gave you. MS on Fighting Arts?
P.S. After Fighting Arts I will do solo on Fighting Arts of Indonesia.
(July 16, 1967)
"Kowloon Star," Java Sea
Plans cut short. Trip to Moluccas and Halmahera not permitted by military here. Seems that some guy named Stratman (USA -- maybe one of your boys at university [e.g., the CIA]) screwed things up here and all travel to these parts is stopped. Slightly miffed about this!!
Swinging into alternate phase by Sumatra trip to Batak, Minankaibau, and Acheh areas for what I consider core of silat and blade weapons in this country.
Will get Borneo, Moluccas, Halmahera and Irian next year to complete MS. Have enough now both for our Fighting Arts and separate one I'll do on my own.
Saw central Celebes on safari to Toradja area. A Dong-san culture tribe with interesting sisemba fighting! More later.
P.S. Write me at Hong Kong.
(August 4, 1967)
Getting mail out of Indonesia is a risky business. The post office officials usually steal all they lay hands (grubby) on.
Finally emerged from 3 long months in the 'bush'. Got our first hot water shower in all that time. I've picked up a touch of dysentery and fever -- lost 22 lbs. All is okay now and will head back to Hong Kong and Tokyo.
Collected data galore -- exciting pix, too. But I must return (next year?) to compete book on FA of that area. Interested? I'm serious!!!
I am sure the officials of your university [e.g., the CIA] would be interested in the historical/technical data I have. During my tour I have gained the key position perhaps any foreigner ever has enjoyed in that I was accepted and taken into various group confidences in the silat world.
Over many a 'philosophical breakfast' I learned each group (style) and its ramifications. The hardest to crack were the juduk (Muslim group which uses auto-hypnosis and trances) My method -- combat vs. one of their experts. To shorten the story, I flattened him with osoto-gake makikomi; only I got up! The Perisai Diri group leader saw my iaido technique I wanted to learn, so a deal! The Bahkti Negara group was won over by combat (again osotgake makikomi). The Sumatran Minanakabau group by combat (this time faked ippon seoi and reversed with kouchigari which deposited their fair-haired lad on his can; I stepped in and put on a tight jujigatame to settle the issue). A fourth encounter was not really combat but an imposed 'what would you do ifÖ' situation. I caught him in an aikido nikyo and it was all over. The 'victim' a top fighter of east and central Java Muslim silat. I sprained his wrist.
All groups mentioned have political bases. The Muslim groups highly secretive. The Perisai Diri group is attempting nationalization of silat. They had Sukarno's favoritism; still active. Bahkti Negara are nationalists (name = 'Exclusive Dedication to country'). Future political trends all will have silat movements. I have names and addresses, photos of all leaders.
I know innermost workings of these groups and at least 40 others. Only group without political ambition was that of Ponorogo area whose last support went into the anti-Dutch campaign. It now isolates itself from other silat, because of their political endeavors.
Bob, have made collection of their weapons -- fantastic blades -- wicked and functional. Will illustrate my book with them.
Kuntao [e.g., wushu] here is highly secretive too -- hard to enter, but with aid of top Javanese-Chinese got into Hokkien (Fukien) and Shantung styles as well as Khe (Canton) groups, the 3 which dominate all kuntao in Indonesia. Top teacher wanted to learn kusarigama jutsu [chain-and-sickle fighting]; exchanged for one Shantung pinan (Black Tiger) which I practice daily plus a tour of all kuntao groups. No politics show here that I can find.
Write me at Kodokan [in Tokyo]. I arrive there about 15-20 August.
(April 12, 1968)
The safari to Indonesia cannot be cancelled, but I will delay it until I get our manuscript on its way by late May. We must take advantage of the dry monsoon time, which is over by September. Weíre going into the Moluccas (Ruru Island after stick fighting tribes and into Ceram for headhunter fighting arts). We plan also to make a full-length tour of Sumatra and Nias to see the knife-happy Minangabau, Acheh, and Batak peoples. Will stop briefly to gather more on already visited areas for silat and kuntao. Canít really complete manuscript until I do this. Rush is that I have gotten accepted for official Djakarta Museum safari into West Java Badui country. These are peoples who Forbes reported "kill by stroke of hand." Also in West Java are two uncommon wrestling combatives: gulat and bendjang. Curious about them. Do you have anything on them?
(July 12, 1968)
Nangka, at sea
Have been out of Japan a bit over one month. Spent most of the time in west Java working on silat and kuntao investigations. A new wealth of material! Among mainland Chinese here, kuntao places t'ai chi lower on the combative scale than what you have focused on in your work. I'll elaborate on this later.
Spent some days on east Java and Madura, the latter the land of the famed and feared knife fighter. Got over 400 pix of their combatives including a new one on me called okol, a grappling form endemic only to Madura.
Now am sailing to the Celebes, Makassar first stop. Had good fortune to pickup this Ambonese trading ship and will head for Sula Islands, Moluccca, Halmahera. Crew friendly and give promise of a profitable venture into Burn and Ceram. One trader will accompany me both places to aid me in investigating the Alefuru tribes famed for their staff and stick fighting. A government official passenger will arrange for our safe conduct with military guards. Seems as though Alefuru are also blowpipe specialists. I'll be in the area until end of July. Return via Ternate, Menado, Macassar for brief rest on Bali before going into Sumatra. Will drop line as I can. Conditions a bit rugged!
(December 17, 1970)
Back once again in Japan. Spent the past two months primarily in Hawaii doing some preliminary research on Polynesian weapons and fighting arts. Itís the foundation of a new book. Planning to ride heavy in Melanesia and Polynesia during the next five years. The next safari is coming up during the summer of 1971. Want to come along?
(March 17, 1971)
Getting ready now for a junket into Malaysia and Indonesia. Just about two months away. Hell of a time, but I must move and do it now. We will hit some new areas.
(May 27, 1971)
Weatherby is delaying on my contract for my book on Bujutsu. He has had the manuscript for two months, wants it, and has offered a contract. I found the advance section not to my liking and counter proposed that I be given $500 (lump sum); he wants to give me $200. Now he says his treasurer is in the USA and no disbursements can be made until his return. This sounds like crap to me. Any company that has only one signature for checks is indeed operating in a strange way. His reluctance to pay $500 "because I simply havenít got the ready cash" is perhaps indicative that he is in bad financial shape. Wondering if I should go ahead with him or not. I can farm out the manuscript to any publisher. Itís a good one. But this takes time, and I need dough to make this trip to Indonesia and Malaysia possible.
(July 18, 1971)
Five weeks in Malaysia and Iíve covered all the Peninsular States but Johore, which I will enter tomorrow. The trip is extremely interesting. Iíve seen over 50 berisilat, 25 kuntao, and 10 tommoi (boxing Siam) styles, and taken some 2,000 pictures. I even met a man who wore a waist full of weapons who performed a prasat (trance). He claimed kabat (immunity) from cuts and blows but would not let me test him. His reason was that Iím not a Muslim.
The trip was marred by an injury. I suffered a near traumatic amputation of the middle finger of my right hand. Not the whole finger, the distal tip only. An Indian surgeon in Negri Serubilan saved it. My hand is still in a cast, so excuse the scrawl. A car door slammed on my hand! It will be all right by the time I get to Singapore.
Will travel to Indonesia in a few days, then to Bali for the rest and for the filming of several new books. Drop me a line there. Wish you could make one of these junkets!
(September 9, 1971)
You missed a damn good trip. Collected some 5,000 pictures and enough new material to keep me in my usual over busy state all winter.
Tuttle is still screwing around with my Indonesian manuscript. Itís delayed again. This makes over three years in preparation. No excuse, just so far behind because he refuses to hire more people. He has my last judo book, at least with him. It should be out about four years from now at this rate.
Got to see some pen pals of yours in Ipoh. My schedule did not permit me to actually go with them to their dojo. But from the two hour conversation we had they appear in some respects off the track with mysticism, et al., instead of original purpose of fighting arts. Met their instructor, a fine man. Impressive as he was, he was not the best down there. He also thought the Ipoh bunch were too intellectual and complained that they did not practice what he asked them to concentrate on. This instructor is real knowledgeable and honest. I want to meet with him again next year, and get some pictures of him in action.
The best Shaolin, in my opinion, is in Penang. Tíai Chi is all over Malaysia. Cheng Man-chíingís name is big here, and his advocates can be seen doing their daily dozen each early morning. But the real old fighting styles, the full systems, abound, too. None could match the Yang system that I saw and practiced in Hong Kong. If you thing Chengís stuff is good, remember that his successes against all comers probably comes from his earlier Yang studies, not his new style.
Any luck identifying wu chi system I asked about in the card from Malaysia? This system is rare. Even the Chinese rarely see it. One master does it in Kampong village in Trengganu. Itís a forerunner of Tíai Chi and really effective. (Wu is "martial" and chi is the same as chi in Tíai Chi.)
(October 21, 1971)
Wu chi as demonstrated by the Ipoh groupís teacher is a strong style. On my next trip (May) I plan to spend a month on the east coast, near Trengannu and Kelantan, studying it. He is damn good man all right, about my size and still active. Wu chi is a forerunner of Tíai Chi according to this teacher. Never saw it elsewhere and he says very few know of it in China. It has died out because it is too strenuous.
(January 30, 1972)
All here is geared to my tentative departure for Malaysia in early May. Before that I must finish three books and handle the last stages of three others now at the publishers. Busy!
(May 13, 1972)
My approval for a trek into the jungle to live with the Jakun in Johore and Pahang arrived. These are blowpipe specialists and spearmen. Iím very excited about this trip and look forward to one other thing that may answer some questions now before historians and anthropologists. I have discovered evidence of primitive peoples on an island in the Gulf of Bengal that make use of a bow (yumi) that is almost an exact duplicate of the Japanese. The Tor people of New Guinea also use this kind of bow. There may be some connection aside from coincidence. One professor at Kyoto believes this may give a clue to the original settlers of Kyushu.
(June 2, 1972)
The coming expedition will be a thorough one. Five months of trekking through some wild places, but it is the only way I can get at what I am after.
I have an invitation from the police in Iran to make a study of their weapons and fighting arts. It has all the trimmings provided I teach stick techniques, judo, etc. They will arrange everything including travel into hill country, security, etc. It should be about a one-month stay, and is scheduled for the fall of next year.
(July 4, 1972)
After ten days on the Thai-Malaysian border Iím really more impressed than ever with toi-muay (tomoi as Malaysians pronounce it). This is the root of present-day Thai boxing and kickboxing, but in the kampong it is still a real fighting art with no sport attitude. The Siamese rule the roost against silat and kuntao fighters, and in border town competitions, the loser still goes to the hospital. The government here has banned such contests, so the locals go across the border into Siam to fight.
Also spent a week on Langkawi Island in search of weapons and fighting arts. Interesting silat forms that have a mixture of Siamese and Indian arts in them, with no Chinese influences at all.
In Penang for rest and re-outfitting. Then off for Kelantan and Trengganu. After that, Sabah, Brunei, and Sarawak. The latter is a safari thing into Dayak country.
I have enlisted the services of an Indian guru for my study of selemban, a hill-country kind of staff fighting. Impressed with this guru, who, at age 68, is a whirling propeller composed of staff and body in a blur of motion. His style is the Narikuru, or tiger method. At this juncture Iím but a cub and wondering if I will ever be a tiger. The actions are so different from anything Iíve undertaken before, but I keep trying. The main problem is keeping from klonking myself silly.
Iím also getting in with the kuntao masters here. A few minutes ago an 80-year old who came to see me promised me all needed source material on history, experts, etc. He recalls a colored US boxer named Williams who fought here years back; the kuntao man flattened him. Do you recall any top boxer named Williams? Supposedly from the East Coast of the USA. Maybe a heavy or a light heavy according to this old-timer, who alleges to have witnessed it.
Communist activity limits our trips into the peninsular jungle areas in search of orang asli. Tomorrow I venture to the Kedah-Perak border to see Senoi and Sakai Negritos, the blowpipe specialists. Hope to get lots of pictures for future articles.
(November 4, 1972)
Iíve been back in Japan about a week, and still havenít gotten myself sorted out! The workload waiting for me here is fantastic. Iíll be glad when May rolls around so that I can get loose and head into the jungle once again. I have one more trip to make into Malaysia before I have all the material I need. The planned book will be much better and more thorough than the Indonesian one which, by the bye, you should have by now.
(December 8, 1972)
Iím off for Malaysia and Indonesia by the end of the month. Wish you could make just one. Thereís so much to see and study; it never ends.
I just got my contact into Trengganu. Heís a Malay who will guide me into the interior for Negrito study. He also reports about seacoast dwellers who have a form of silat that is based on turtle actions Ė armed with spears (harpoons). Fantastic! I must see this.
While in Trengganu and Pahang Iíll have time to slip in a tiger hunt, also one for selandang. Itís the old story, the best stuff is in the bush. The city is mostly crap and off-the-track kind of stuff, though not precisely so in all cases.
I will spend about one month with orang asli (Jakun, Senoi, Semang) studying their weapons and fighting methods if the military situation permits. The Thai border is bad now and I may lose one interesting study area there.
I have an invite to see chakala silat, the mystic incense-burning ritual, which until now has been for Muslim eyes only. Came about by strange coincidence with a Malay girl Iíve befriended. Sheís a real beauty, a classical dancer from Kelantan of Thai-Malay blood. Beautiful, but this is off the subject. It is said that I will be allowed to stab a kris into adepts who are in a trance and not harm them!
Three of us will make the trip. All are martial arts men, for if you can show nothing you get nothing in return. Maybe some year you will come along, eh? In Indonesia it is mostly West Java and Bali, though I may get into Sumatra to finish my work in Atjeh.
(April 12, 1973)
I hope to get out of Tokyo by early June, and stay gone until September. This time itís Borneo. Iíve been appointed hoplologist for a Malaysian museum team. Itíll be a good experience and bound to be interesting.
(November 20, 1973)
Next to Kona, Penang is the loveliest spot on earth. We have entered the rainy season now, cooler winds, but still plenty of sun and beach time. That is, for those who have time for it. Iím damn busy rounding up all things prior to leaving for the polluted (but honorable) shores of Dai Nippon.
There are lots of Malaysian pirate editions of our books. I might knock on his door (and his head): the latest are [Quintin] Chamberís stick fighting book and your Gilbey. This geek has gall enough to do a few of his own in which on the first page appears a warning to all persons not to infringe the copyright!
A "kung-fu expert" here a few weeks back demonstrated his chíi kung in public. It was the usual crap. Last night four ordinary street hoodlums beat the crap out of him with their bare hands, and he died hours later in the hospital. These Chinese are fantastic with their chíi kung garbage. Iíve yet to see one demonstration that isnít involved with circus tricks (but good use of physics). Typical stunts include breaking a large stone slab on the body using a sledge, receiving in the gut a battering ram propelled by four guys, having someone slam a staff or stick against the body, etc. Itís all crap that circus menials perform with chíi. Much like Toheiís "You canít lift me because of ki" routine. Remember that little ex-boxer, Johnny Coulon, who is the worldís best at this?
I have yet to see "kung-fu" performed without this aura of circus attached to it. The legitimate saolim group here limits display antics, is indifferent to what the audience wants or likes, and goes about the business of training. Maybe Chan Soo Kheanís group of wu chu also sticks close to the original line, though the master, Chee, often sits in meditation and lets students bop him on the coconut with a stick. Carefully, of course. Iíd like to do it with a jo.
(January 8, 1974)
Iím back in Japan. Now you make the trip to Southeast Asia!
I will be here until late May until I move off into Borneo again. This time of year is monsoon season, and where I go it is impossible to move around safely with all the rain. But in the cities, never mind, youíll be okay.
Iíll see you in Tokyo (7-10 February). Keep me posted on your arrival and where you will shack up. Wang is no longer here. Taiwan, maybe? Not sure. I have no contact, but maybe some Tíai Chi exponent here will know. We can try.
(September 5, 1974)
After some weeks in the jungle I have emerged to get a fishbone removed from my throat. I canít dislodge the damn thing, though I tried every trick I know, including succumbing to Chinese medicine at the hands of Chan Soo Khean. (Who, incidentally, is pleased with your new book Masters and Methods, which is a dandy.) After hospitalization tomorrow, I will move out again. I hope to finish here by mid October.
(October 7, 1974)
Back from a trip into the Pahang jungle. Well worth it, and got lots of pictures and information for future publications. This just about winds up my stay here. I have some little bit more to shoot on silat, Indian self-defense, and a Hakka wu shu style. Plan to leave on 27 October with two days at Bangkok, a few in Manila on Martial Arts International matters, then Hong Kong, and Tokyo by early November.
(March 21, 1975)
Working like mad to clear out of Tokyo by mid-to-late May. I will leave much undone, but so goes the cookie that always seems to crumble in me paws. Will be three months in the Borneo interior, one month on the Malay Peninsula, and then return here about October.
(September 22, 1975)
Man, what a summer. Hot and busy. Got lots done, though, and have for all practical purposes completed my work on the Malay Peninsula, both pictures and manuscript. Now to put it into shape. In the coming years it will be Borneo. Health willing, I expect it to take at least three more years.
Iíve met Chan Soo Khean often. He trains now at jodo and the Ipoh group is large, about thirty trainees. We had a centralized training course this year at the seaside and with two Japanese 5-dan to aid me it went well; some seventy persons trained in kenjutsu, kendo, jodo, and iaido. Next year we will repeat, but this time in the mountains for the cooler climate.
(January 18, 1976)
The educational movie company deal has bogged down. They hoped to raise a quarter million budget through a tax-sheltering device but canít. Unless their plan to get money from loans comes through I will not be going to China and Korea as planned. Might be just as well, as I have to make another Borneo trip, and also one to Europe before the end of this year.
(May 25, 1976)
Iím just about twenty more letters short of answering the 300-some that piled up in my absence. This plus work on four manuscripts and preparation for Borneo scheduled in early July keeps me busy.
(November 2, 1976)
I finally got back. I did not do what I set out to do in Thailand as the jungle is filled with bandits, guerrillas, and restless people. Maybe next time.
(December 25, 1977)
I have a chance to conduct a series of lectures at the University of Hawaii again, after which I will be back in Borneo for more fieldwork. Thereafter I have invites (but no final commitment yet) to visit Assam and the Tibetan border areas for fieldwork, and another to do a weapons typology on Easter Island. All very interesting and in line with the hoplology discipline we are developing, but certainly not financially lucrative. Anyway, I want to keep as active as I can, while I can. The old bones are still with it, and I can manage to hold my own with guys half my age, but there will come a day (not too distant) when this becomes impossible. The fieldwork behind, I can then settle down to write and teach the rest of my life away.
(February 20, 1979)
This year Iíll nick into China, then Assam, in addition to Burma and Malaysia; Indonesia is also possible. I do not expect anything but the guided tour in China, but who knows? It will be good to see the old place after a 33-year absence.
Malaysian trips go well as usual. This year in July we host the first International Kobudo Jamboree there. Groups from Europe, the US, Canada, and Asia will participate in training with Japanese weapons there. This is the ninth year for what we call centralized training and it is quite a useful event. Itís led to solid development of classical disciplines in Malaysia and a world of new friends to boot. I am pleased.
(January 1, 1981)
This year fieldwork will take us to Assam-Tibet, barring the social unrest that made that junket impossible last year. Alternative plans have Borneo and India for our teams. Another team is also gearing for a study in Scotland. We have so much to do and so little money. Until our Center is incorporated we have no legal tax-free status or leverage with which to attract funds. Grants will be requested once we have our legal status. With money we can do some really important work.
I have a hardworking core of lads now. Sixteen in number, with eight more fledglings learning the trade. Gaining academic support from many quarters, but all is not without problems Ė which in turn fall on my head.
(June 25, 1981)
I will be in Penang 25-30 July, then again 10-15 August. After that Iíll be engaged in fieldwork, this year on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia, the Kra Isthmus of Thailand, and possibly Borneo. The return to Penang is scheduled for early October.
Hope all is well with you. Best wishes to any who remember me.
JCS June 2000