When I left off, I was at a crossroads with the writing. I was receiving rejection letters from the magazine. I must have gotten a half dozen of them. Looking back, the problem was my ideas were too abstract and confusing – they were bad. I began to know what it was like to be a one-hit-wonder. I thought I would never get published again. Then one day one of my ideas caught the attention of the magazine. The idea was about creating your own martial arts system. I knew a lot about this subject matter and I started working on the article right away.
The working title was Planning To Create Your Own Martial Arts System – “Think Again”. The theme wasn’t so much to tell people not to create their own system; rather how to avoid the many pitfalls associated with going down that road. This time I didn’t do a photo shoot. I just submitted the manuscript with a note asking if something appropriate could be found in Black Belt’s archives. The article was still on speculation with no guarantees to be published – luckily, a few weeks later I got the acceptance for publication letter. Shortly thereafter came the letter stating it would be published in the September 1995 issue of Black Belt. That was cool.
The actual title turned out to be “The Dangers of Creating Your Own Fighting System”, and the lead photo was a shot of Bruce Lee. The magazine found other photos in their archives to help illustrate the story too. Something funny about the pictures - your family and friends won’t give you much reaction if they don’t see you in them. Most won’t read much of it. A person has to get his satisfaction knowing his content is out there for the benefit of the magazine enthusiasts – many of whom are seekers trying to better themselves or their dojo. I did get some reaction that I wasn’t expecting. It was a letter to the editor (published in a subsequent issue) sent in by a gentleman objecting to my article. I didn’t like it so much but I had no control over it. I had to learn to accept some criticism.
After sending in the next query, I received a letter suggesting I change the training camp angle that I’d pitched - to a more straight forward “outdoor training” concept. I’d done an outdoor style training camp for ten years and a lot of karate and kickboxing work in the mountains too, so of course I was IN. The material was right there in my brain, nevertheless, I sought out some quotes from the late Shihan Ted Tabura, an artist who became a kupuna to me. (A kupuna is a wise person who will lead you out of danger into the light.) It was a good move because it really helped beef up the article. I also went on a photo shoot rampage, shooting at four California outdoor locations. Turns out that it’s a bit cooler to take the time to do the photos. The manuscript and photo package was completed much more quickly this time and publication came quicker too. The article titled “Training In The Great Outdoors” was published in Black Belt’s July 1996 issue. To cap things off, every model/student who took part in the photo shoots had their pictures published in the magazine. The article and all the work it entailed was extremely rewarding.
Next, I turned in a tournament article which was accepted. While waiting for the publication date, I received an unexpected surprise. The magazine called me on the phone and asked me if I’d be willing to take on an assignment to write a story about (the now late) great Joe Lewis. I said yes, then went on a journey learning everything I could from the former World Champion. The article titled “Joe Lewis Speaks His Mind” was published in the July 1997 issue of Black Belt. Things were going great. I was on top of the world…for now anyway. A few months later that world would crash and burn. Stay tuned.
- Floyd Burk