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I went through the effort of typing up some stuff on Raffi’s message board in response to GW’s post (on 05/15/03):

If you think about it, for MOST of the mainstream athletic events that get things like…oh, say TV COVERAGE (where the money comes in), there is one thing that they usually have in common: a connection to the non-athlete at some participatory level.

For example, Joe schmuck CAN get some clubs and golf, shoot hoops, throw a football, ..hell, they can even strap on a pair of skates and get the feeling of what ice skating might be like. they can shadow box and even pretend spar.

Gymnastics…it captured the US imagination with the perfect 10s and such..but it is NOT a big every week draw…you don’t see the Gymnasts on tour like Ice Capades.

Wushu – common Joe Schmuck looks at it and is impressed. May even try to do something…and rips a groin muscle or worse. The “I could do that if I wanted to …” fantasy just won’t be there.

But Taijiquan….they CAN do…it COULD have the same appeal as yoga – with marketing. And it COULD lead people to other forms of Wushu and promote everything….

But it won’t if no one ever sees it or if it is excluded from being a viable thing to do.

Seems shortsighted all around to me.

And I responded by saying:

There are some very good ideas, but I think the “I can do that” syndrome needs more too it.

First, you seem to show that yoga is an example of a success story — but I don’t see how that is doing any better than taiji is. Perhaps it is more popular in health clubs, but I don’t see it as a huge fad, at least in this part of the country.

Of course my sample data for this is skewed, I do know 2 people that do yoga, but you can’t count the number of taiji people I know because I happen to go to schools that teach that.

The main thing that I think is important is that people should be able to look at modern wushu and relate closer than they could with other sports — even the ones that have gotten plenty of airtime and money thrown their way. You said that if anyone tried to imitate wushu that they would hurt themselves. I think this is less likely to happen imitating wushu than say, skateboarding, mountain biking or rock climbing. Which all get featured on ESPN. People would have a higher chance of getting hurt playing full contact tackle football than trying to imitate contemporary wushu, I think. People go play two-hand touch ‘ AKA a nice watered down version. Anyone can do a nice watered down version of wushu. No kicks above your thigh, keep the jumps to a comfy hop or two and swing your arms around.

Yes, I agree, with different marketing wushu could become very popular. Unfortunately (It’s only unfortunate if you want wushu to become popular) there is no financial backing to such a marketing campaign. With such a push a lot of things would change in the process. There are many different ideas of how wushu should exist, and this marketing force would force it’s particular flavor upon the public ‘ and I am sure that plenty of people would be unhappy about this. Everyone talking about how old-school wushu is so much better than the bastardized wushu that everyone else does, not that this isn’t already happening.

I think the important question is not how do we market wushu, but rather do we want wushu to become popular. Not just popular, but do we want it to go through that full metamorphosis that will produce the mainstream American bastardized version of wushu? I am all about the grassroots movement that wushu has now. I want to see the level of wushu improve and continue to evolve ‘ but I am skeptical about it becoming mainstream.

Most of the ideas I am actually in favor of, but I am playing devil’s advocate — there are some issues that could really ruin things for everyone if not actively resolved.

Now if we have any ideas for marketing of a privately own wushu school, I am all about that. Preferably, a way that doesn’t involve blanketing cars with flyers.

Chris