This notice is going out to anyone I’ve provisionally accepted to compete in the Four Wings martial arts tournament. This year marks my ninth attempt to hold a martial arts tournament, each previous attempt having resulted in an embarrassing fiasco. It is fast becoming clear that fighters are entering my tournament under some highly spurious assumptions that I have no choice but to address.

  • Yes, I am very wealthy man, one who keeps something of a low public profile; and yes, the Four Wings tournament is taking place on my private island estate in the South Pacific, in the shadow of an active volcano. But it would be wrong to think I have some kind of nefarious agenda. I am simply a very fortunate man with an lifelong love of the art and science of human combat. I choose to hold the tournament on my own property, rather than hold it on the mainland and face the ensuing logistical nightmare of permits and visas and rental space. I ask you, what is the point of having as much money as I do if you can’t use it to support your personal passions?
  • The Four Wings tournament is in no way, shape, or form, “to the death.” I really don’t know how people keep getting that impression. What kind of person do you think I am, that I want to watch people kill one another? Moral considerations aside, why would a martial arts fan like myself want fewer expert fighters in the world? Please do not intentionally injure or kill your opponents. If any accidental injury does occur, I have a team of medical professionals at the ready to treat it, as is only common sense.
  • I understand that the large prize purse I am offering is causing emotions to run high. But this is a tournament like any other, and I wish for rules to be followed. Please abide by the normal guidelines set by the governing bodies of the fighting discipline you’re competing in. Do not use any weapons beyond the ones provided. Do not form under-the-table alliances with other fighters. Do not use any deadly techniques hitherto known only to a select few fighting masters without first clearing them with our rules committee. The use of poison, drugs, psychological intimidation, mind control, or magic will result in your disqualification.
  • If you are on the run from gambling debts, hired assassins, or a magical curse of some kind, please do not fight in the Four Wings tournament. I am sensitive to your plight, but I run an ethical tournament, and you can’t meaningfully consent to the risks of full-contact fighting if you are being coerced.
  • I do not own a “private army.” I pay a small staff of qualified people to provide security services incumbent on any person with a fortune as large as mine. They will not be entering the tournament, obviously; this would be unsportsmanlike. This goes especially for Dao, my head of security and personal bodyguard. Dao may look imposing, but he is extremely professional, and his fearsomely scarred face originates from a childhood bicycle accident.
  • If you are seeking revenge against another participant for killing one of your family members, sending you to prison, or besmirching your honor by saving your life when you would rather have died nobly, I strongly suggest you seek your restitution another way. While I do appreciate the zest that a strong personal narrative brings to a sporting event, participants keep getting in unsanctioned brawls in between official matches. This is a considerable nuisance, not only because such fights frequently claim lives (again, please do not kill each other!) but also because they take place in isolated corners of the island, where neither spectators nor official match scorers can observe them (again, I organized this tournament because I want to see you fight!).
  • Being, as I am, someone of humble beginnings who made my own fortune, I appreciate the fact that talent is found in people from all walks of life. I do not shy away from selecting fighters of underprivileged backgrounds, including those who may have lived on the wrong side of the law. This practice has had the unfortunate effect of attracting undercover police operatives to the Four Wings tournament. If you are entering the tournament in the hopes of arresting a criminal, please reconsider. My island exists outside any criminal jurisdiction, and moreover, you are thousands of miles away from the resources and administrative support you need to make a clean arrest that respects due process. I will not abide any police misconduct in my tournament.
  • The final match of this tournament will not consist of a one-on-one fight against me. Rumors that I secretly possess legendary fighting skills, and am holding this tournament to winnow the entire world’s contingent of fighters down to one worthy opponent, are untrue. I have never had a single minute of combat training and am quite as physically unimpressive as I look.
  • Regarding the existence of magic and the supernatural, I make no claim one way or the other. However, rumors that I am a secret practitioner of the supernatural arts are completely false. I am not holding the Four Wings tournament in order to absorb fighters’ life essence, or open a dimensional portal, or select a champion worthy of fighting the gods, or anything of this sort. Isn’t a normal martial arts tournament exciting enough for you people?

If you have read these notes and still wish to compete in the Four Wings tournament, please fill out the enclosed form and return it by the date indicated to secure a spot. Please check the box to indicate whether you will be traveling via seaplane or rickety junk boat, and notify us of any special dietary needs.


And now a quick joke...

I felt bad about slapping the bass at rehearsal yesterday. He’s new to a cappella and I was very frustrated with him.