Previously, the development of written manuscripts with the utilization of images was a big break for conveying and teaching information about specific forms and situations of applied martial arts. As an example, Bruce Lee was a major proponent in outsourcing previously prohibited styles and techniques practiced in China to “foreigners” of the Western world with his books relaying his conjoined Jeet Kune Do style.
Although the idea of relaying information through writing has been used way before any of our time, he created a system of images and words that made learning martial arts quick and easy.
As we move forward in time, this practice of relaying martial arts-related information internationally boomed where styles that exist in the confines of “non-outsider” culture can be viewed by all.
Presently, with the introduction of the World Wide Web, a martial arts class that you would see in a dojo can be viewed all online. While online classes take away from the experience of going in and having a teacher move your body in the correct positions for the sake of muscle memory, it has made learning martial arts extremely accessible to people who may or may not be able to afford the classes themselves.
In accordance to visual representations of martial arts, what has popularized the international interest of martial arts is contained within the medium of film.
Whenever the average person—practitioner or not— thinks of martial arts, they picture a scene or a number of scenes taken from popular martial art films.
If you are an American especially, you have most likely seen or at least have heard of professionals such as the likes of Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, and more second wave famous practitioners like Donnie Yen, Tony Jaa, and Stephen Chow.
Tony Jaa, who is famous for popularizing Indonesian martial art styles with “Ong Bak” is quoted saying that he grew up watching films by Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li at temple fairs which is what inspired him to learn martial arts.
Tony Jaa told Time magazine in a 2004 interview that:
“What they (Lee, Chan and Li) did was so beautiful and heroic that I wanted to do it too. I practiced until I could do the move exactly as I had seen the masters do it.”
This is just one case out of many where the increase propagation of film within the world of martial arts has pushed its popularity to areas that are more rural and less-technologically advanced.