ARMA Editorial:
Rumors, innuendos, and half-truths.
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Summer 2001

It’s unfortunate that with all the exciting things going on in this field at present we have to be distracted by the nuisance of petty issues when there is so much work waiting to be done, but it’s the way of things I suppose. Any time a person or group is successful, influential, and popular and has a strong leadership role, there will be nay-sayers and the disgruntled fringe. There will always be people who are envious and resentful and who because they can’t raise themselves up by their own accomplishments and merits instead will seek to tear down others.  Being the largest and most visible as well as the most successful, we are the obvious target for a few.

These parties are not above using rumors, innuendos, and lies, to provoke discredit, and sadly, there will always be a few out there who for their own reasons will readily absorb this kind of half-truth and propaganda.  This is a sad but old trick: if they can’t match you, they sully your reputation with half-truths instead. What we will do in contrast is continue on course with our studies promoting the legitimacy of historical European martial arts.

Any person with any real courage or integrity would upon hearing a vicious rumor or innuendo politely send an email or pick up the phone to inquire with the third party in question. It’s very easy to just ask, “This is what I’ve heard, what’s the deal?”…Unless of course a person had a grudge...because then any internet lie, innuendo, or rumor would be a wonderful opportunity to grind a personal axe…regardless of the truth.  Any person with any wisdom would also know better than to spread falsehood concerning legal matters of which they have real no clue.

As to one sordid insinuation, it needs to be pointed out that the ARMA name, logo, and system is a federally protected copyright. We can’t and won’t allow anyone to use either without permission or claim to have been certified or trained been by us, or claim association without authorization. Additionally, if any of our online writings or my books are plagiarized we will take appropriate legal action when and where necessary.  It’s our right and it’s that simple. We have been an inspiration and motivation to many out there and we have been flatteringly imitated by others.  In some cases though we’ve been simply ripped off. A few sites seem to take portions and paragraphs from us wholesale on almost a monthly basis and simply rework or reword them. There doesn’t seem to be a single thing we innovate that isn’t borrowed and repackaged within a few weeks by some without attribution or reference. Oh well, it’s to be expected …flattery and all that, the nature of the market.  If you are going to be cutting edge, if you are going to be controversial, if you intent to take the lead, this is what you have to deal with. Goes with the territory.  But if our original work product is stolen, that is when we will take action.  For now the copy-cats are too small to take much notice of, but they are walking a fine line in some cases and in others we have had to ask they desist. Other parties who know they have ripped us off can sweat a little when reading this. 

Further, it should be understood that the ARMA Study Approach consists simply of: researching period fighting manuals, literature, and iconography combined with comparative analysis from hands-on experience using accurate replica arms & armor.  The real historical sources and weapons are our guide. This is opposed to either making it up on our own or simply “borrowing” from Asian martial arts and modern/sport fencing. The ARMA Training Methodology consists of using 4 tools for a well-rounded comprehensive understanding: blunt swords, wooden wasters, padded contact-weapons, and sharp blades.  These are employed in exercises, drills, and practice routines.  Many other organizations and individuals have adopted such an approach and system on their own, and historically we have encouraged just that very thing.  The curriculum of our own Training Program is itself made up of this system. However, it is the distinct original work-product (i.e., our specific curriculum not our interpretations) used in our Training Program which we will protect as necessary.

What the real phenomena going on out there at present is that there are a few key individuals who resent the ARMA and myself for our success and influence. Perhaps they now feel they can’t get any recognition for their own efforts because they see us as “dominating” it all (especially considering some of the confidential projects we currently have under way). So, they aren’t about to grant us any further recognition either.  Instead they get bitter, snide, and critical and try to tear at us.   For some there are different motives for hostility and the public does not see their agendas: when we don’t endorse someone’s sword product, they retaliate; when we don’t validated some group’s interpretation of a text, they respond with spite; when we give away 80% of all we have they get angry that it’s not 100%; when we can offer our members discounts with companies they react with spite. A certain amount of resentment I think also comes from my saying for instance if you are not doing “xyz” in your practice or study you are missing something and here’s why...  Those who haven’t been doing “xyz” may feel inadequate and resent not being able to articulate their position. Some people request we put their link on our site because they are “brothers in arms”, yet when we examine their site we see it’s content actually contradicts our stated goals. Their reaction then goes from admiration to condemnation. What can you do? What can you do? It’s sad, it’s petty, it’s unconstructive, but it will not make much difference in the long run. 

ARMA had a grown a worldwide grassroots following for one very good reason: we focus on our subject and we know what we are doing. This doesn’t imply we have any claim to be the “only way” or that we do not respect other approaches, but we do feel ours is the best we’ve seen so far …and it produces results.  Rather than celebrating this and taking it to heart as inspiration, apparently some perceive it as a threat to their insecurities. As ARMA’s membership has increased and we offer substantial benefits to our private members, I think some fear being shut out of a resource they have long taken for granted –even though we will regularly continue to provide substantial materials online for free. They know full well the impact we have had on the subject and the community (and in some cases on themselves and their organizations). ARMA is focused intently on promoting and advancing historical European martial arts and swordplay and will not be distracted from it. 

To paraphrase JFK, the great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie –deliberate, contrived, and dishonest –but the half-truth –persistent, persuasive, and enduring.  Consider this the next time you hear someone’s deceptive sympathy campaign intended to tarnish someone else’s character or reputation.

John Clements,
ARMA Director
…busy working with swords

*Note nothing has been said here above that is unreasonable, illogical, or controversial, but still, some folk will use any excuse it seems to misconstrue so they can lash out not in attempt to dialogue disagreement but because of their own grudges. If you feel like commenting on this editorial, just drop me a line. 

 

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