Writing this blog was an idea I had for quite some time before I actually started it. Martialwhat.com was my first blog; it was the first WordPress based site I was building and it required quite a bit of effort, help from friends and hard work. It is good having ideas for blog posts while you cannot write them but then the blog is up and running and ideas sometimes struggle to come or to crystallise into something that makes sense. Writing anything that is publicly available means imposing to yourself some kind of discipline: style of writing and topics have to be consistent for the blog you are writing.
Fast forward 5 years and martialwhat.com is now a small authority in its field, receiving well over 1000 visitors per month; a small selections of articles are read many hundreds of times per month and keep receiving new comments. I started this blog just to communicate to an audience I assumed it existed, share information and my personal opinions about martial arts and how they should be trained and lived. Many readers read and move on, some of them leave comments or link my blog to theirs when it’s appropriate and applicable but one went a bit further than that.
A few months ago I received an Email from one of my readers, Catherine Samson, a British fiction writer based in Beijing China. Catherine described my blog as an interesting source of information about martial arts which is useful for her next project a new book where the main character is a young woman, kick boxer, based in the city of Naples, Italy. She also mentioned she would have been in the UK just before Christmas 2012 and would have liked to visit my club, watch a lesson and spend some time with me to ask a few questions. I was happy for the enquiry and we agreed a mutually convenient date to meet. It all happened on a Sunday night: lessons run on this day between 5 and 7pm. When I arrived at 5 Catherine was already waiting for me, so we briefly introduced in person for the first time, I started and run my two hours lesson while she watched and took lots of notes. At the end we went to a nearby restaurant and, in front of a nice meal, she asked various questions about things she saw and others that she read and required a bit of history or background.
This short meeting with Catherine was what I like to think beginning of a nice collaboration: she obviously wants to be accurate about martial arts bits and bobs she will be writing in her book and I am more than happy to help her with information that is probably available on line but some times so scattered that it might be difficult to be aggregated in a meaningful way.