skip to content
Dragon Preservation Society > Some brief remarks on the sharing of research
Since I have put some translations and interpretations on this site for the public's benefit, I have become aware of a regrettable trend in the online community of Western Martial Arts. Apparently some groups keep translations or research results secret in shady hidden directories so that only a select few in their clique have access, apparently from a wish to maintain some appearance of superiority over those without their exclusive information. I feel this is unfortunate because it hinders progress of the arts we all love. I am well aware - through personal experience - of the time, effort and expense that goes into research or translation of combat manuals. It would be presumptuous of me to tell others what they ought to do with the fruits of their labour. So I will instead present them with the following 12th century argument:
We read in the account of the creation of the world that man was created in the image and likeness of God, and was given life by the breathing-in of the divine breath; that by the excelling quality of such distinction he was preferred above all other living creatures, so that, capable of reason, he might participate deservedly in the wisdom and skill of God’s design, and that, endowed with the freedom of choice, he should respect the will and revere the souvereignty of his creator alone. But although he lost the privilige of immortality through the sin of disobedience, being pitifully deceived by the cunning of the devil, nevertheless he transmitted to the generations of posterity his distinction of knowledge and intelligence, so that whosoever devotes care and attention to the task can acquire as by hereditary right the capacity for the whole range of art and skill.
Wherefore the pious devotion of the faithful should not neglect what the ingenious foresight of their predecessors has transmitted to our present age, and man should embrace with avid eagerness the inheritance that God bestowed on man and should labor to acquire it. Let no one after acquiring this glorify himself in his own heart as though it had been received from himself and not from elsewhere. But let him be humbly thankful in the lord through whom all things are and without whom nothing is. Let him not hide his gifts in the purse of envy nor conceal them in the storeroom of a selfish heart but thrusting aside all boasting, let him simply and with a cheerful mind dispense to those who seek. Let him also fear the judgment in the gospel on that merchant who failed to return the talent to his master with interest and went without thanks and by the evidence of his own mouth deserved the epithet: "thou wicked servant".
Fearing to incur this judgment, I, an unworthy human creature almost without a name offer freely to all who desire in humbleness to learn the gifts that god who gives abundantly and undemandingly to all has deigned to grant freely to me. I admonish them to see exemplified in me the blessed kindness of God and to wonder at his ample generosity. I urge them to believe unquestioningly that the same is there for them if they will add their own efforts. For just as it is wicked and hateful for a man through evil ambition to grasp at a forbidden thing that is not his due or to take possession of it through theft, so also it must be ascribed to laziness and folly if he leaves without trial or treats contemptuously a rightful inheritance of God the father.
Therefore most gentle son whom God has wholly blessed in that here are freely offered to you things which many obtain only after intolerable effort, plowing the waves of the sea at the greatest danger to their lives, constrained by the necessities of hunger and cold, and wearied by long servitude to the professors, and yet remain unflagging in their desire for learning, gaze covetously and avidly upon these pages, read them through with tenacious memory, and embrace them with an ardent love.
When you have read this again and again and entrusted it to your tenacious memory, you will repay your instructor for his pains if every time you have made good use of my work, you pray for me that I might receive the mercy of the allmighty God who knows that I have written what is here systematically set forth neither out of love for human praise nor from desire for temporal reward, and that through envious jealousy I have neither stolen anything precious or rare nor silently reserved anything for myself alone, but rather that I have given aid to many men in their need and have had concern for their advancement to the increase of the honor and glory of his name.
From the preface of Theophilus: An Essay Upon Diverse Arts, c. 1125
to top of page | Dragon Preservation Society