The past few weekends I have been going through my attic in preparation for a move. I have a ton of boxes up there that contain 30+years of book, magazines, and newspaper clippings. I will be moving into a smaller place, and I need to go through the boxes to see what can be gotten rid of. Since I have not done this in a very long time, there were a lot of things in the boxes that I had forgotten about.
One of those that I had lost track of was a number of issues of an old magazine called Full Contact. My wife got ticked at me since as I found them, everything came to a screeching halt as I flipped through each issue. But I could not help it since this discovery brought back a flood of good memories.
For those who were not around then, Full Contact was a Martial Arts/Fighting magazine that was published for a short time in the early to mid 90’s. Now, to understand my fondness for the magazine, you have to understand the landscape that we had back then martial art wise.
This was before YouTube, when good instructional videos or DVDs were like finding a needle in a haystack, and mostly before the internet as we know it today as a complete web that ties the world together existed. To find out really anything in the martial art world we were at the mercy of the publication schedule of Black Belt and Inside Kung Fu magazines, along with a small number of lesser mags. And all of them had information that was at best three to four months behind the times. We were also at the mercy of what the editors of those magazines decided was “cool”. If something did not fit their personal likes or beliefs, it was ignored and went under the radar to the masses.
Then, along came Full Contact. It was the first major newsstand publication that focused almost exclusively on the self-defense aspect of martial arts, and how it related to the real world. They even – GASP! – talked about the use of firearms in a positive way, which never happened in the regular martial art magazines. They featured a number of instructors who rarely got publicity like Sonny Umpad, and they allowed those who did get some publicity in the general MA press a much more free hand in articles. In a word, it was a giant breath of fresh air.
Now, that is not to say it was perfect. The editor was sometimes fooled by his own personal bias and often featured people who should not have been featured so heavily (to express it gently). And, now looking back, some of the attitudes were the precursor to the current trend of “tactical” stuff to be ipso facto better, even when it was actually faux tactical and kind of stupid.
Still, I have a lot of fond memories of the magazine, and I think it had an overall positive influence on instructors who came to prominence afterwards. While I am dumping most of the stuff that I had packed away, I am keeping my Full Contact back issues