When did your business start and why?
We first opened our doors in 1968 in London, England. As martial artists we
could not find good quality equipment, or knowledgeable vendors, so we decided
to take care of things ourselves. We became agents for R. K. Mizuno, the largest
sports equipment manufacturer in the world and never looked back. Remarkably
in the last forty five years little has changed. Most martial arts vendors still
sell equipment, books, and videos that have little if any value for the genuine
Q. How did you get into book publishing?
A. The same way really. The market was flooded with really bad quality books
by people who had little knowledge of the martial arts and even less talent.
Our first book was Dynamic Power of Karate by Hirokazu Kanazawa and
we went on to publish other books with the same author as well as Masafumi
Shiomitsu, Keinosuke Enoeda, Takayuki Kubota, and Morio Higaonna. Our latest
book, Shotokan Karate a Precise History we view as our
greatest achievement and we believe it will be recognized as one the most
important books ever to be published on the subject.
Q. So Classical Fighting Arts magazine grew
out of your book publishing division?
A. Not really. The expertise did, but CFA has always been independent because
the three parts of our company have their own missions and this sometimes
generates competition and conflict between them, which we actually view as
healthy. For example, an independent reviewer in CFA might say that a product
from a competitor is better than our own. If this is true we will respond
by producing an even better product, not by trying to censor the writer
I believe that this is the reason that we manage to attract the best
martial artists and writers in the world. They know exactly what the
situation is, they dont have to worry about editorial pressure,
and are free to write about what they chose, in the way that they choose
Q. How about Tsunami Productions?
A. Tsunami are also independent. They are part of the group but make their
own decisions. Of course our contacts are shared so if Morio Higaonna is making
a video with Tsunami, we will obviously ask him for an interview for CFA,
and he did choose Dragon Books to publish his History of Karate - Goju
Ryu. This loose knit relationship works very well. If we need support
of any kind it is there, but no member of the group has to worry about politics
or anything like that. Our only agenda is the promotion of legitimate martial
artspure and simple!
Q. What about the future?
A. We have a lot of plans. The circulation of CFA magazine is
growing and according to distributor who dominates the martial arts magazine
business, we are now the second largest publication in the nation. Pretty
amazing when you consider that most newsstands dont sell us. We are aiming to be
the biggest by 2015 and with the level of support we get from our readers
its entirely possible. People are tired of the nonsense that is published
in the popular karate press. The martial arts world is growing
up and needs magazines aimed at an experienced, knowledgeable, and mature
Dragon Books are still in the traditional book publishing and distribution
business but restricting the titles they publish to books they categorize
as exceptional. This is certainly the case with Harry Cooks
book which will turn the Shotokan world on end before the year is out.
Asked to explain the objectives of Dragon Books I would tell you to look
at a copy of their special edition of History of Karate - Goju Ryu that
was bound in red leather, hand made marbled paper, and 24 carat gold.
That book better explains about Dragon that I can. Simply the best authors,
the best design, the best printing and bindingthe best everything
Q. What about your personal likes and dislikes?
A. The whole ethos of our company is service to the customer so we dont
allow ourselves the luxury of personal biases. We have no politics, no allegiance
to one style or organization. We think positively and try to broaden our reader's
education by exposing them to the best of martial arts literature, video,
and equipment so they can develop the eye that we have developed
over the past 45 years.
Its difficult sometimes to really explain what Dragon Associates Inc.
is all about because its a state of mind rather than a marketing strategy.
We like to think of ourselves as a sort of home grown martial arts company.
No hype, just the real thing, high quality, effective, strong, and honest.
Do we irritate the big guys - you bet, to the extent that they
now cover our video titles as soon as we publish them. One
has even considered publishing a tabloid like Dragon Times, but
get a distributor to take it!
We look forward and not over our shoulders. We have equipment, videos,
and books that that are unique, and we back them with a service no one
can match. Can we improve! Of course! We have improved our products,
our company, and ourselves every day since we opened in 1968. Its a habit thats
difficult to break!
to Classical Fighting Arts magazine!
here for subscription information
As we produce, publish, or manufacture
much of what we sell,
we welcome questions of a technical nature on (818)
(8am-8pm PST Mon-Sat)
P.O. Box 3691, Thousand Oaks, CA 91359