Frank William Dux ( //; born April 6, 1956) is a martial artist, fight choreographer and author. According to Dux, a ninjutsu expert named Senzo Tanaka trained him as a ninja when he was a teenager. He established his own school of ninjutsu called Dux Ryu Ninjutsu, and has said he won a secret martial arts tournament called the Kumite in 1975. His alleged victory at the Kumite served as the inspiration for the 1988 film Bloodsport starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Dux's victory at the Kumite has been disputed, as has the existence of both the Kumite he described and Senzo Tanaka.
|Born||April 6, 1956|
|Teacher(s)||Senzo Tanaka (disputed)|
|Occupation||Martial artist, fight choreographer and author|
Dux served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve from 1975 to 1981, and claims he was sent on covert missions to Southeast Asia and awarded the Medal of Honor. He also asserts he was recruited by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director William J. Casey to work as a covert agent. His military records, however, show he was never sent overseas and has not received any awards; Dux states the military sabotaged his records to discredit him. He has been accused of falsifying his military service by authors B. G. Burkett, Ralph Keyes and Nigel West, and his claim to have worked for the CIA has been dismissed by Director of Central Intelligence Robert Gates, General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., Major General John K. Singlaub and Soldier of Fortune.
Dux worked as a fight choreographer for Bloodsport, Lionheart (1990) and Only the Strong (1993). He detailed his alleged work for the CIA in the book The Secret Man in 1996, and that same year co-authored the film The Quest alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme. He sued Van Damme for breach of contract over the film, but lost the suit in 1998. He also lost a lawsuit against Soldier of Fortune for libel the following year, over their claims he had falsified his military and CIA service.
Dux was born on April 6, 1956 in Toronto, Canada. His family relocated to California when he was seven, and he later attended Grant High School. Dux states that he was introduced to and trained in ninjutsu by Senzo "Tiger" Tanaka, whom he described as a "world-famous" teacher and the descendant of 40 generations of warriors. Dux says that Tanaka brought him to Masuda, Japan when he was 16 to train him as a ninja.
Dux served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve from 1975 to 1981, and said he was sent on covert missions in Southeast Asia during this time and was awarded the Medal of Honor. Dux wrote articles for the September and October 1980 issues of Black Belt magazine, giving advice on martial arts techniques including knife fighting. He was described as being "decorated for his blade fighting techniques in actual combat in Southeast Asia" and as holding black belts in "Taekwondo and other arts". He also co-authored an article on knife fighting for Inside Kung Fu magazine in 1987.
Dux states he participated in a 1975 martial arts competition in The Bahamas called the Kumite, describing the event as a 60-round single-elimination tournament held in secret every five years; his story was first covered in the November 1980 issue of Black Belt. According to Dux, he was the first person to be given permission to speak publicly about the event, and was the first Westerner to win the tournament, achieving several world records there including the most consecutive knock-outs (56) and the fastest knockout (0.12 seconds). The 1988 film Bloodsport is based on his alleged Kumite victory. At the time of the film's release, he was operating martial arts schools in Woodland Hills and North Hollywood, Los Angeles, teaching his own martial art style, Dux Ryu ninjutsu, which is based on the Koga Ninja root principles of Ko-ryū, "adaptability and consistent change". Dux worked as the fight coordinator for Bloodsport and also for the 1990 film Lionheart and the 1993 film Only the Strong.
In 1993, Dux attended the 2nd annual Draka Martial Arts Trade Show in Los Angeles, where he had a confrontation with kickboxer Zane Frazier. Dux had previously hired Frazier to teach classes for him, though Frazier alleges that Dux never paid him. A fight ensued, with Frazier proving victorious. Rorion Gracie and Art Davie witnessed the fight and subsequently offered Frazier a position in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Dux states that Frazier sucker punched him while wearing brass knuckles, in contradiction to multiple sources, including mixed martial arts (MMA) referee John McCarthy, who make no mention of this in their accounts of the fight.
Dux released the book The Secret Man: An American Warrior's Uncensored Story in 1996. In the book, Dux states Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director William J. Casey arranged to meet him in a restroom, and recruited him to work on covert missions, including destroying a fuel depot in Nicaragua and a chemical weapons plant in Iraq.
Alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dux was a co-author of the 1996 film The Quest. Dux sued Van Damme after the film's release for breach of contract, on the grounds the finished film was too similar to the manuscript Enter The New Dragon, which the two had also written. In 1998 Dux lost the case, with the jury foreman stating jurors found Dux's testimony "less than credible", including his assertion that audiotapes of his agreement with Van Damme were destroyed in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Dux appealed the verdict, though his appeal was dismissed in 1999.
Military service and Medal of HonorEdit
Contrary to his claims, Dux's military records obtained through Freedom of information show he never served overseas, he has not been given the Medal of Honor or any other award, and that in January 1978 he was referred for psychiatric evaluation after he expressed "flighty and disconnected ideas". Dux states that the military sabotaged his service record to discredit him. A photograph of Dux in military uniform shows service ribbons being displayed in an incorrect order, and the Medal of Honor he is wearing is the version given to members of the United States Army, rather than the Marine Corps. Questioned about the photograph in 1988, Dux told John Johnson from the Los Angeles Times he was not able to get the military to explain why he was awarded a medal from the wrong service, though in later years he changed his story to say the uniform was just a Halloween costume.
In his book Stolen Valor, which won the Colby Award in 2000, B. G. Burkett says that Dux fabricated his military history and awards, and had not served in Vietnam, noting the war had ended before he enlisted. Dux responded to the allegations by saying he never claimed to have served in Vietnam, only in covert missions in Southeast Asia, though in 1980 he was described in Black Belt as having "a distinguished military record during the Vietnam conflict", and an interview with him in a 1987 issue of Inside Kung Fu describes him as a Vietnam veteran. Authors Ralph Keyes and Nigel West have also disputed Dux's military service, as has Soldier of Fortune magazine. In 2012 Sheldon Lettich, co-writer of Bloodsport, said that Dux originally showed him a Medal of Honor he claimed to have won, though years later, after people began questioning if he had won the medal, Dux then tried to convince him he had never made such a claim.
John Stewart, the author of the 1980 Black Belt article that first described Dux's alleged Kumite victory, expressed regret for writing the article in 1988, describing himself as "naive" for believing Dux and saying after the story was published he received information that "raised questions about Dux's military career". In 1988 Jim Coleman, then editor of Black Belt, said that Dux's story was "based on false premises", adding they could find no evidence of such a competition; he made a similar statement again in 1996. Kenneth Wilson from the Ministry of Sports in The Bahamas disputed the existence of the Kumite, saying it was impossible a martial arts tournament of that scale could have been kept a secret. According to John Johnson, an invoice for the organization that allegedly staged the Kumite listed Dux as its only point of contact, and the base of the trophy he claims to have won was bought by him at a local trophy store. Dux told Johnson to speak to a man named Richard Robinson, whom he said he had met at the Kumite. Robinson initially confirmed Dux's story, saying he was invited to the Kumite as he was an undefeated wrestler at Lower Merion High School. Johnson later uncovered that Robinson had not attended that school, and had actually gone to school with Dux. Confronted with this information, Robinson responded "All right. I don't know what to say ... Frank was a buddy of mine when I was in L.A."
Sheldon Lettich said he got the idea for Bloodsport after listening to Dux's "tall tales" regarding the Kumite. Dux introduced him to a man named Richard Bender who claimed to have been at the Kumite and verified the story, though a few years later confessed to Lettich that he had been lying and that Dux had instructed him on what to say. Lettich described Dux as a "delusional day-dreamer". Citing his Kumite claims, MMA website Fightland includes Dux among their list of martial arts frauds. Both John Johnson and Fightland believe Dux faked his story to help promote his martial arts schools.
Senzo "Tiger" TanakaEdit
John Johnson reported he could find no evidence of Dux's alleged teacher Senzo "Tiger" Tanaka in history books or from other martial arts experts. Dux told Johnson he did not know the whereabouts of Tanaka or even if he was still alive, though in later years changed his story to say it was Tanaka's dying wish for him to compete in the Kumite. When Johnson pointed out that Dux's teacher has the same name as a ninja commander from Ian Fleming's James Bond novel You Only Live Twice, Dux responded by saying that Fleming "used to base his characters on real people". In March 2017, Dux wrote an article saying he had found Tanaka's death certificate, which showed he had died in Los Angeles in 1975, though as of 2016 Dux's website said that Tanaka died in Japan.
In 1980, Dux told Black Belt his fight record so far was 321 wins, 1 loss and 7 draws, though in 2014 he told AXS TV he had retired with a fight record of 329 wins, 0 losses. Curtis Wong, an editor of Inside Kung Fu, doubted whether Dux's alleged 56 consecutive knockout record was possible. Others observe the difficulty in proving or disproving Dux's "impossibly impressive" records, as "the only person able to verify any of this information is Dux himself".
CIA work and The Secret ManEdit
Several notable figures refuted Dux's claims to have worked for the CIA in his book, The Secret Man. Robert Gates, William J. Casey's deputy and successor, said he had never heard of Dux, nor had anyone else he knew in the CIA. Dux named General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. and major general John K. Singlaub as other people he had worked for, both of whom denied Dux's assertions. Singlaub called the book, "virtually a complete fabrication." He had his lawyer write to HarperCollins, the company that owned the imprint ReganBooks which published the book, asking for it to be recalled. Soldier of Fortune opined there were at least ten plot holes in the book, such as Dux's "preposterous" claim that Casey personally handled his operations and ensured that no one else in the CIA would know of his existence, yet contradicts this by describing receiving documents and support from other personnel on numerous occasions. A CIA spokesman said the book was, "sheer fantasy," adding that it was unusual for the CIA to comment on such matters though Dux's claims were, "so preposterous that we thought it was necessary," also stating that it was convenient for Dux that Casey was dead and unable to refute the book himself. Reviewing the book, Publishers Weekly said, "It's hard to tell whether the author is merely posturing or expressing his fantasy life in a memoir that reads as if patterned on the early paperback Avenger series."
Dux also alleged in the book that his father Alfred had worked for Mossad before the Second World War and also joined the Jewish Brigade in 1939. Nigel West says that Dux's family history does not "withstand much scrutiny", noting that Mossad was not formed until after the Second World War and that the Jewish Brigade was not formed until several years after Alfred is said to have joined it. Lieutenant commander Larry Simmons, a novelist who formerly commanded SEAL Team 5 and who had the same literary agent as Dux, posed with Dux for a photograph. Dux featured the photo in the book, with the caption saying he was "talking shop" with the SEAL Team leader. Simmons denied "talking shop" with him, adding that Dux was "not an American warrior. He is a con man."
Other claims and reactionsEdit
Writing in the book Actions Speak Louder, Eric Lichtenfield said that when his exploits are questioned, Dux counters by "actually exploiting his lack of substantiating evidence, and spinning it" into even wilder stories. Dux says the reason he no longer has a sword he was presented with at the Kumite is because he sold it in a failed attempt to buy the freedom of a boat of orphans who he later rescued from pirates, that he stopped a plot to assassinate Steven Seagal, and that discrepancies in his martial arts history are the work of fabrications by his rivals including ninjutsu master Stephen K. Hayes.
While many sources dismiss Dux's claims entirely, others believe there may be some truth to his stories. Dux sued Soldier of Fortune publisher Robert K. Brown for libel following the publication of their articles about him. While he eventually lost the case, during the hearing, John Johnson presented a photocopy of the receipt which he said proved that Dux had purchased his Kumite trophy, though the judge refused to allow it as evidence, noting several discrepancies such as the date on the receipt being after Dux was photographed with his trophy. Dariel Figueroa from Uproxx opined there were several holes in both Dux's claims, as well as some of his critics, "leading to a mess of false evidence, lies, and somewhere in the middle, the truth". Hugh Landman from Ranker has stated that while Dux "lies about, or at least greatly exaggerates, many aspects of his career" that does not necessarily mean his story is entirely false, speculating he may have won a Kumite that was significantly different from the one that appears in Bloodsport.
Dux's credits on martial arts films are as follows:
- "Full Mental Jacket". Soldier of Fortune (August 1996): 37–39.
- Johnson, John (May 1, 1988). "NINJA: Hero or Master Fake? Others Kick Holes in Fabled Past of Woodland Hills Martial Arts Teacher". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 14, 2012.
- West, Nigel (2016). Cold War Counterfeit Spies: Tales of Espionage – Genuine or Bogus?. Frontline Books. p. 127. ISBN 978-1473879577.
- Mendel, Bob (May 1981). "Can Ninjitsu Make You the Ultimate Warrior". Kick Illustrated: 47–49.
- Dux, Frank; Selner, Mark D (September 1980). "Unlocking Power: Keys to Success". Black Belt. 18 (9): 46–50, 58.
- Dux, Frank (October 1980). "Self Defense Against Knives". Black Belt. 18 (10): 30–34.
- Dux, Frank; Richiusa, Gordon F. (July 1987). "The Guide to Ninjutsu Knife Fighting". Inside Kung Fu Presents: The Complete Guide to Ninja Training: 76–79.
- John, Stewart (November 1980). "Kumite: A Learning Experience". Black Belt. Active Interest Media, Inc. pp. 28–34. Archived from the original on January 26, 2019.
- Trunick, Austin (August 3, 2018). "Lionheart [Special Edition]". Under the Radar. Archived from the original on January 17, 2019.
- Holden, Stephen (August 27, 1993). "Martial Gymnastics in High School". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 25, 2019.
- Fight Erupts at Martial Arts Trade Show. Black Belt. Active Interest Media, Inc. December 1993. p. 89. Archived from the original on January 26, 2019.
- McCarthy, John (2011). Let's Get It On!: The Making of MMA and Its Ultimate Referee. Medallion press. p. 122. ASIN B005G5EMMG.
- Segura, Melissa (July 8, 2013). "UFC 1". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on July 26, 2013.
- Grant, T.P. (November 12, 2013). "MMA Origins: UFC 1 (20th Anniversary Edition)". SB Nation. Archived from the original on February 19, 2017.
- "The Secret Man: An American Warrior's Uncensored Journey". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on February 10, 2019. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
- Howard, Michael (June 16, 1996). "CIA Calls Dux "Quack". Spy Agency Says "Secret Man" Exploits Just Work of Fiction". The Plain Dealer. p. 16A.
- "Van Damme Cleared in Suit Over 'Quest'". Los Angeles Times Times. November 11, 1998. Archived from the original on July 1, 2012.
- "Van Damme wins case". The Janesville Gazette. November 11, 1998. p. 2C.
- "Jury decides Van Damme owes nothing to Dux". Garden City Telegram. November 12, 1998. p. C6.
- "Van Damme Victor in Clash". People. May 27, 1999. Archived from the original on January 25, 2019.
- Figueroa, Dariel (October 21, 2005). "Lies, Litigation, And Jean-Claude Van Damme: An Exploration Into The Reality Behind 'Bloodsport'". Uproxx. Archived from the original on January 25, 2019.
- Burkett, B.G.; Whitley, Glenna (1998). Stolen Valor. Verity Press. p. 412. ISBN 978-1565302846.
- Klein, Michelle (May 1987). "Frank Dux: The Man Behind the Legend". Inside Kung Fu Presents: The Complete Guide to Ninja Training: 50.
Michelle Klein: Frank W. Dux, a distinguished Vietnam vet ... After training with Tanaka for several years Dux was called to serve in Vietnam and came out of the experience with a chestful of medals and a basic distrust of institutions like the military.
- Keyes, Ralph (2004). The Post-Truth Era: Dishonesty and Deception in Contemporary Life. St. Martin's Press. p. 73. ISBN 978-0312306489.
- "Stolen Valor: Profiles of a Phony-Hunter". Soldier of Fortune (November 1998): 61.
- "Q & A with Sheldon Lettich By Marco A. S. Freitas (Guest Post)". Asian Movie Pulse. November 29, 2012. Archived from the original on February 16, 2017.
- Kurchak, Sarah (January 9, 2015). "Martial Art Pretenders: A History of Imitators and Snake Oil". Fightland. Archived from the original on January 10, 2015.
- "Return to the Kumite". Fightland. July 25, 2013. Archived from the original on January 27, 2019.
- Landman, Hugh. "The Insane Story Of Frank Dux, Whose Life Allegedly Formed The Basis For 'Bloodsport'". Ranker. Archived from the original on January 26, 2019.
- Dux, Frank (March 7, 2017). "Dux: On backbiters, Bruce Lee, bogus ninjas and fake news". Artvoice. Archived from the original on March 7, 2017.
- "Frank Dux: Beyond Bloodsport". FrankWDux.com. Archived from the original on August 17, 2016.
- "Frank Dux Says He Inspired the UFC and Royce Gracie Reflects on the Infamous Biting Incident at UFC 1 in Exclusive Preview Clips Below". AXS TV. May 14, 2014. Archived from the original on January 27, 2019.
- Lichtenfeld, Eric (2004). Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action Movie. Wesleyan University Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-0819568014. Archived from the original on January 26, 2019.
- Frank Dux v. Soldier Of Fortune Inc Larry Bailey et al, BC198883 (Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles May 14, 1999).
- Carter, Dave (May 1987). "Bloodsport – The Ultimate Martial Arts Movie". Inside Kung Fu Presents the Complete Guide to Ninja Training: 38–47.
- Thomas, Kevin (April 26, 1996). "A Knockout for Director Van Damme". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on July 1, 2012.