Welcome to the first-ever Samurai-Con, a martial arts festival of truly epic proportions!
Given the challenges of travel since that ultimate Kung Fu villain known as 2020 arrived on the scene, we decided to go virtual for our inaugural year and bring the party to your living room. Like attending a convention in person, you can design your own schedule and choose which convention rooms to enter to see the martial arts experts and celebrities who interest you. You can leave in the middle of a talk and check out a speaker in another room. You can chat with new friends during the talk or martial arts lesson and ask questions to the presenter during the Q & A. At Samurai-Con, to paraphrase Bruce Lee, we encourage you to explore what is useful to you, reject what you find useless, and create an experience that is specifically your own.
When you need a break, you can check out the Exhibitors Hall to get all your Samurai-Con swag. At the Samurai-Con store, you get a sweepstakes ticket when you purchase this year’s official t-shirt or poster, which you can place on an original martial arts art piece of your choice, created by one of the artists in the Artist Alley. You can then swing over to Artist Alley, meet the artists, check out their other work, and even commission them to draw a martial arts-related piece of art for you. You can then hop over to Podcast Row in the Exhibitors Hall and meet your favorite martial arts podcasters. On Exhibitors Avenue you can meet vendors of virtually any other martial arts merchandise you may want.
To cap off the day, you can join the friends you met for the first Samurai-Con movie festival where you have VIP access to a watch party of the samurai crime noir classic Ghost Dog with live chat during the screening. Wrap up the day with an after party where you discuss the movie with new friends, hosted by the Dr. Alexander Bennett, translator of the samurai text Hagakure which is featured prominently in the film. There will be a live Q & A during the after party where you’ll have the opportunity to engage with Dr. Bennett about the movie. Don’t forget to exchange contact information with the new friends you met throughout the day or join the Samurai-Con Facebook group to stay in touch.
How did Samurai-Con come about? I suppose the seeds were planted during the fun I had growing up with martial arts beginning with watching Kung Fu Theatre on Saturday mornings, samurai, Chuck Norris, and Jackie Chan movies from the local video store (yes, I’m old), and legends on the big screen such as Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal. Then there were the life lessons and life-long friends made through the training, beginning with Tae Kwon Do, and a little Hapkido and Judo with Master Moo H. Kim when I was three years old, who my dad asked a few years later if ninja throwing stars were appropriate for a young child once I begged him for them when the ninja craze of the 80s hit (he said probably not but I eventually got them – hey, this was the 80s). Next came Wing Chun Kung Fu with Sifu Francis Fong during my college years, along with training with his friends Ajarn Chai Sirichute in Thai boxing and Bruce Lee’s student Guru Dan Inosanto in Jeet Kune Do and Filipino martial arts. Then a friend and I attended UFC 3 in 1994 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and saw Royce Gracie survive against a giant named Kimo, which led to me learning Gracie Jiujitsu from Royce’s brother Relson Gracie and Judo from Sensei Steven Alphabet, and special moments such as learning from Royce and Relson’s dad Grandmaster Helio Gracie, and training Judo at the Kodokan (and a little Aikido at the Aikikai) in Japan. Martial arts has given me great memories from my childhood and has helped cultivate me as an adult. It has given me invaluable life lessons, as well as great friends. With Samurai-Con, I want to have more fun and more learning and share it all with you, my new friends, in a good-natured, positive atmosphere. You undoubtedly also have special memories of first watching your favorite martial arts film or training with a great master. With Samurai-Con, I’d like to try to recapture some of the magic we first felt when we looked on with wonder at the incredible things someone was able to do with two arms and two legs. I’m so looking forward to meeting all of you at Samurai-Con this year and making new friends and new martial memories together!
Steven Abood, J.D., Ph.D.