Historic Martial Arts Research

Decoding Strategies for Period Manuals


Step 0: Read a passage.


Step 1: Identify and define any unfamiliar, non-specialized vocabulary.

                        i. Www.dictionary.com offers era-specific definitions.


Step 2: Identify and define any specialized terminology.

                        i. How much can be determined using context clues?

                        ii. Is this term defined elsewhere?


Step 3: Create index cards with terminology.

                        i. Add bullet points with the main characteristics of the term.

                        ii. Revise and refine the card as your understanding improves.


Step 4: Identify the main idea of the passage.

                        i. Is the passage instruction?

                        ii. Is the passage rationale?

                                    a. Is it practical?

                                    b. Is it theoretical?

                        iii. Have the terminology index cards handy; when you see a term, read the index card instead until the definition is memorized.


Step 5: Line by line reading.

                        i. Paraphrase each sentence.

                                    a. Instruction: into a list of actions.

                                    b. Rationale: into a list of reasons.

                        ii. Order the lists chronologically (if instruction).

                                    a. Events occurring simultaneously occupy the same line.


Step 6: Test your interpretation.

                        i. Does it seem like it should work?

                        ii. Does it work?

                                    a. What should happen?

                                    b. What did happen?

                        iii. What could make it work better?

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