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Dragon Times
New Name & New Magazine Format

Dragon Times started life as an experiment, a market survey tool if you like, designed to discover if a serious martial arts publication could survive, let alone prosper in the North American market where fantasy publications had for so long held sway.

It was initially rejected by all the large book distributors because it was produced on newsprint and was considered too serious for the martial arts public they knew. It lacked controversy we were told (we never compared one spurious fighting art with its equally spurious competitors), had no star power (Bruce Lee never appeared on the cover), and was too rigid in its outlook (we insist on publishing the truth and nothing but the truth). Clearly Dragon Times did not have much of a future if the "experts" were to be believed.

However, against the odds, little by little, it made headway. Dragon Times attracted the strongest team of martial arts writers ever assembled, developed a core of readers who were almost fanatical in their support, and while doing so, won the approval of the upper echelon of senior karate masters.

David Hooper, Ph.D. Mario McKenna, Charles Swift, Dr. Robert Dohrenwend, Brian Kennedy and Elizabeth Guo, joined our writing team, strengthening it immeasurably. With their help, each issue of Dragon Times grew larger in size and stronger in content, helping us to strengthen our hold on the legitimate US martial arts community while developing an expanded readership in Canada, Europe and Japan.

By the time issue ten came off the press, we knew that we had a chance of surviving. By issue eighteen we felt we might someday prosper. Issue twenty saw us pass the magic 60% sell through point in the stores and actually start to sell out certain issues completely.

An important break through came when frustrated Dragon Times readers persuaded the Borders Books company to try their favorite publication in a few of their larger stores. Sales were spectacular! They added a few more stores and it sold even better. Borders then offered it in every one of their 300+ stores and it sold like no other martial arts publication before it. This convinced the company that there were martial arts readers out there who were interested in reality, comfortable with the structure of the English sentence, and undaunted by words of more than two syllables.

Word spread and before long Dragon Times became a feature in many Barnes and Noble, Bookstar and Bookstop stores as well as branches of Hastings and Tower Books. In the magazine industry where a sell-through (ratio of copies printed to copies actually sold) of 50% is considered very good, and where increases of 1-2% cause great excitement among sales executives, Dragon Times never sold less than 55% — since 2001 it has always exceeded 60%.

This year we reached a point where, to maintain momentum, we needed to add some of the many thousands of newsstands around the country as outlets for our magazine. Ironically, the distributor who services this market was unwilling to handle Dragon Times because of its tabloid newspaper format and we therefore found ourselves with arguably the best martial arts publication on the market, but no way of servicing our growing readership. Drastic measures were called for.

With the support of our contributing editors, the staff and volunteers who produce Dragon Times, and our primary distributor, Dragon Times will, from this issue, evolve into a magazine format publication called Classical Fighting Arts, the debut issue of which will be published in March 2003. This is purely a cosmetic change. The publisher, writers and design staff will remain the same, as will the basic role of the magazine, to publish only the best and most accurate material by the best and most highly respected writers.

If you are a paid subscriber to Dragon Times you will receive Classical Fighting Arts for the entire balance of your subscription. Despite the difference in cover price there is nothing extra to pay — we appreciate your support in the past and wish to acknowledge it by continuing your subscription. The new magazine's cover price will be $5.95 per issue, a subscription for one year (4 issues) costs $20.00 and for 2 years (8 issues) $35.00.

The benefits of the new format beyond those already stated above are very obvious. Better paper will mean the quality of the images and text in Classical Fighting Arts will be greatly improved. We will have a new style binding and a glossy color cover. The increased sales volume that should result from greater exposure will allow us to spend more time on production and graphics, extend the editorial reach of the magazine, and attract even greater numbers of the best writers and instructors. In other words we plan to bring you more of the same, only better!

The twenty three issues we have produced since Dragon Times first saw the light of day have proven that there is a market for a quality martial arts publication in North America and elsewhere. It has also confirmed that the vast majority of martial artists are not the illiterate morons portrayed in the "popular" magazines but increasingly sophisticated consumers looking for quality publications and equipment, and perhaps, more importantly, a way of communicating with other serious enthusiasts.

This is not to say that the world of martial arts is fast approaching perfection. Karate is still without credible leadership in North America. Over-emphasis on karate competition is producing a generation that cannot defend itself in the absence of a referee and four corner judges. Kata in many dojo has degenerated to a point where it is irrelevant in a self-defense context. Most relevant information on the internet is largely irrelevant as well as wildly inaccurate and Karate chat rooms are bursting at the seams with self-appointed experts willing to share their ignorance with anyone, for free!

Yet on the positive side, real karate has never been more popular, nor have its standards been higher. We have many of the best and most talented karate teachers in the world living in North America, they are willing to teach any serious student and often charge significantly less than the charlatans for tuition.

Many years ago while dining with Henri Pleé the father of European karate, he said something that made a strong impression on me. He stated quite simply that he admired the United States because it had the best and the worst in the world and was rarely mediocre. The best medical care and the highest number of violent crime victims; the highest standard of living side by side with abject poverty of the caliber only normally found in the most impoverished parts of the third world. The world of American karate is the same, we have the very best and the very worst available to us — the choice is ours.

This is the last issue of Dragon Times and from its ashes, like the phoenix of Chinese mythology Classical Fighting Arts will be born. A brand new publication but one with an established reputation, an experienced team of international writers, a strong graphic design staff, and a martial arts related photo and document archive without equal.

We thank those readers who have so loyally supported Dragon Times in the past, and look forward to welcoming them to Classical Fighting Arts. You have made our success possible and to you we dedicate America's newest and best martial arts magazine!


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