The other day we sat down with Frank Dux (pronounced “dukes”), legendary martial artist and fight choreographer who is visiting Western New York to explore film opportunities here, among other business ventures. Dux established his own school of Ninjitsu in 1975, called Dux Ryu Ninjutsu. An article about his exploits that appeared in Black Belt magazine in 1980 was the eventual inspiration for the 1988 classic film “Bloodsport” starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as Frank Dux. Dux fight-choreographed the film. Donald Trump told the New Yorker magazine in 1997, that Bloodsport was his all-time favorite film.
Dux, who holds 16 World Records, is considered the Father of the MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and wrote a 1996 autobiography entitled “The Secret Man: An American Warrior’s Uncensored Story” published by Harper Collins. Dux also wrote the original story for the Van Damme movie, The Quest.
In the arena of modern self defense, he is named as a contributing author in creating the US Navy SEAL Special Warfare Combat Fighting Course (K431-0097) as well as being an NEOA, HIDTA and Adjunct Faculty Member for the Criminal Justice Institute, St. Petersburg, Florida.
Dux gave some surprisingly non-pat answers to questions we posed to him.
Q: What first got you interested in martial arts?
A: It was the only sport available to me because I couldn’t afford athletic shoes. At the time, you had to have cleats and other equipment to play baseball or football. We grew up poor. There were times that we didn’t know if we were going to have anything to eat. I was born in Toronto, we lived in New York City for a time and, when I was seven years old, we took a train to California, the Los Angeles area. I grew up, trained, fought and taught marital arts in the legendary 1960’s -1980’s San Fernando “Valley of (Martial Art) Champions.”
Q: Who are some of the most famous fighters you’ve been matched against?
A: The greatest champion I ever fought was USKA World Karate and PKA Professional Kickboxing Champion Victor Moore. I fought him three times to a draw. [Editor’s Note: Moore told the Reporter that Dux was the only opponent he did not defeat. In fact, Moore beat Bruce Lee in a speed match competition]. I also fought Kenpo martial art legend and renowned full contact Karate champion Fred Brewster. North Korea’s Chung Li, who I defeated twice, once by submission at an invitation-only match in Nassau, Bahamas, and our second fight was in Asia, was a great opponent.
Q: It’s been said that the style you originated, “Dux Ryu Ninjutsu”, unlike other martial arts styles, isn’t derived from other systems, but unique.
A: Most people, when they “create” a system, reassemble techniques borrowed from other systems. What I created accesses the frontal cortex of the brain while bypassing the amygdala, that part of the brain that produces hesitation through fear. My style is my own.
Q: What makes Dux Ryu Ninjitsu different?
A: My style teaches that there are 12 angles of attack and 12 angles of evasion that when employed will produce the unguarded moment in your adversary. Then in that inevitable unguarded moment – he is defeated.
Angle refers to the direction of force – which you change according to the angle you’re confronted with. My style of hand-to-hand combat is reflex response, not conditional.
Keep in mind, also, that Ninjitsu is not a regimented martial art. Part of its philosophy is that the world doesn’t adapt to you, you to adapt to the world.
Q: What’s the best strategy for, say, a woman who is accosted late at night in a parking garage?
A: There’s no one answer. Generally speaking, it’s usually a situation that begins with force on force, and most women are at a disadvantage in those situations. If we are talking about a 110 lb. woman vs a 250 lb. man her options may be very limited. What’s she going to do, punch it out? Choke hold? She might not even be able to get her arm around his neck.
Q: So what would be your solution?
A: I don’t mean this flippantly. The solution may be the 2nd Amendment. Carry a gun. In dangerous places where a woman might be attacked by multiple attackers, she might consider carrying a gun she has been well trained to use. She could also train in self defense and in time – with conscientious study, perhaps she might be able to defeat an an experienced predator who is perhaps twice her size and strength. I have defeated men larger and physically stronger than me. But were it my mother, sister or wife, I would say perhaps a gun is better, an equalizer. Rigorous intelligent self defense training with a gun might be a safer more effective deterrent for a woman who might have to face dangerous conditions where sudden assault or rape might be possibilities.
Q: Did you hear about the film photographer and reporter that got mugged here by a gang of four in Niagara Falls, literally in a dark alley, the other night?
A: The assailants had numbers, they had more force. It’s a predatory attitude. If one of the TV crew had a firearm, and was trained in its use, would the four have been so brave?
Q: Speaking of Niagara Falls, you’ve been spending a lot of time here lately. What are your impressions?
A: I love Niagara Falls! The people are great. People here are genuine. There is strength in this community, I see that. Still, it’s confusing how a city can have so many resources and be poor. I read about the Niagara Falls of the 1950’s and 60’s and what a difference now from then. When I look at Toronto and Niagara Falls on the Canadian side – I wonder — what accounts for the disparity? When I was a boy in Toronto, Americans were affluent compared to Canadians. It’s flipped – at least in Niagara Falls, New York. Yet New Yorkers are smart. Why have they allowed this to happen? I am studying this now. It is too easy to say it is caused by the corruption of the leaders. There may be a deeper meaning to the creation of a city that ought to be one of the richest cities in America but is actually one of the poorest.
Q: What projects are you’re working on?
A: As you know I work closely with your publisher, Frank Parlato. Among my projects, I’m writing another book. I own the complete literary rights to Bloodsport which was based on my life as well as the film rights for a sequel and prequel based on my life. I can’t give all you all the details, but I am scouting possible film locations here. I have plans to spend a lot of time in Niagara Falls.