How Did This Get Made: A Conversation With Frank Dux, The Real-Life Inspiration For Bloodsport

Unlike so many of the testosterone-fueled films of the '80s, Bloodsport holds the rare distinction of being based on a true story. It's the amazing tale of Frank Dux, a Caucasian martial artist who fought in (and won) a ruthless secret tournament that's held only once every five years. It's a tale so amazing that two months after the film's release, it was dismissed by the L.A. Times as nothing but a fabricated "macho fantasy." And that piece, filled with accusations and allegations, continues even to this day cast doubt upon the reputation of Frank Dux.

How Did This Get Made is a companion to the podcast How Did This Get Made with Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas and June Diane Raphael which focuses on movies. This regular feature is written by Blake J. Harris, who you might know as the writer of the book Console Wars, soon to be a motion picture produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. You can listen to the Bloodsport edition of the HDTGM podcast here. What follows is a conversation with Frank Dux, who was the real-life inspiration behind the movie Bloodsport. Please note as always his opinions, recollections and claims are his own, and not necessarily fact.

Bloodsport Oral History

Synopsis: U.S. Army Captain Frank Dux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who had been trained as a boy by the legendary Ninjutsu master Senzo Tanaka, decides to honor his mentor by taking the place of Tanaka's dead son in an illegal, no-holds-barred martial arts tournament called the "Kumite."

Tagline: The True Story of an American Ninja

"It was a vicious hatchet job," Dux explained during our interview, "And from that lie, everyone's been telling the same lie over and over again."

Dux believes this article was part of a smear campaign orchestrated by business competitors. As a result, he's spent the past 28 years dealing with perpetual allegations of being a fake and a fraud. During that time, he's never felt like he had a platform to defuse those lies and tell his side of the story...until now.

Bloodsport poster

Part 1: To Be the Best…

Blake Harris: Since martial arts is, and has been, such a large part of your life, I was wondering if it was also a large part of your childhood.

Frank Dux: Actually, no. Back then, things were so different. When I was growing up, you couldn't even find "martial arts" in the encyclopedia. I kid you not.

Blake Harris: So you weren't some kind of jiujutsu prodigy?

Frank Dux: Not at all. In fact, I was born with my foot so pigeon-toed that it actually went backwards; my foot, it could go 180 degrees the other way. So to compensate, they put me in these metal boots. And because of the braces and how the legs were locked together—a steel bar locked them together—you couldn't even waddle, you know? So I have all these memories of falling down stairs and crawling on my knees. It was horrible. And it was painful. But I got over it.

Blake Harris: Well, given that physically you were not a prime candidate for hand-to-hand combat, how did the idea of martial arts even first cross your radar?

Frank Dux: As a kid, as a young kid, I was a James Bond fan. And I remember watching a movie where James Bond was doing jujitsu. That kind of caught my fancy. I also remember seeing something on Mayberry R.F.D. with Andy Griffith, where Barney Fife was getting picked on and so he goes to learn judo. He's not very good, of course, but the judo instructor steps in for Barney and then kicks the ass of the guy who's been picking on him. That's kind of how it appealed to me. This thing—whatever it was called—it was really cool and it would be a cool way to meet chicks.

Blake Harris: And how did you go from passively enjoying these things to actual participating and learning how to fight?

Frank Dux: I guess one of the things that helped push me in that direction was that I befriended a kid named Grant who had it far worse than myself. He was born with all sorts of birth defects—he had one leg shorter than the other, he didn't have a jawbone—and because of my own, I don't know, "disability," we became friends. I should also back up and say that I was really poor growing up. So Grant's dad, he basically saw that I was struggling to make money so our family could eat and I could buy myself shoes. So he started taking me to construction sites where I could get work. And at one of these construction sites, there was a guy doing martial arts. He would punch the bricks, breaking them apart. And I'd imitate him.

Blake Harris: Do you remember how old you were around this time?

Frank Dux: I was 11 years old. And then one day I get invited down to the Long Beach Invitationals. And at the Invitationals, there's Bruce Lee. He's demonstrating how to do a 1-inch punch and a 1-finger push-up. And he ends up doing a test of speed with this guy named Vic Moore. In front of everybody. It was a best of three, that's the way I recollect it. They each got three chances to punch (and block) one another. So it should be a total of six blows, except this turned out to be a total of eight because of those two to Vic's head. That's what they always show on the history channel, those two to the head. But the real contest was just punches to the chest, and Moore beat Lee like 4-2. And not only did More beat Lee, but he actually let him score one. He felt bad for him. That's what really happened.  And it's interesting because they hide that, you know? The truth. The whole martial arts thing. So I watched that happen and then I watched Victor Moore fight Chuck Norris.

Blake Harris: Moore fought Bruce Lee and then Chuck Norris? Wow.

Frank Dux: And he knocked Chuck Norris to the ground several times. But Norris was the one, I think, who they declared as the winner. But what's interesting is that after the fight, I see Norris signing a program for Moore. And on it he writes: To the Man Who Beat Me. I didn't understand. These guys, after brutally going at each other, now they were just laughing it off. What was all this camaraderie about? But Vic explained it to me. He said, "To be the best, you've gotta fight the best, kid." And then Moore took me and Grant and started showing us some stuff. Later on, Lee took Grant and showed him that one of his legs was shorter than the other. Which kind of made Grant feel better about himself. People don't really know that about Lee, but he had one leg shorter than the other. I mean, I didn't really see it myself, but I heard it from Grant later. I thought that was real interesting.

Blake Harris: I imagine that at 11 years old that was a pretty inspiring experience.

Frank Dux: Yeah and then three years later, I saw him again. My body's fully developed, I jumped up like a bean sprout, and now I was eyeball to eyeball with Moore, who this time fought the Unstoppable Mike Stone at Long Beach. I thought it was Pasadena, but everyone's told me it was Long Beach. That's just how funny memory can cloud things. But it was interesting because he's fighting Mike Stone and Mike Stone had reportedly 91 wins. He was considered "unstoppable" at that time. And here comes Moore, and Moore drops him in under 30 seconds. And separates Mike's shoulder. He threw a ridge-hand strike and he swept him at the same time. Which was Mike's move. That's the thing. He used Mike's own movements against him and dropped him. After the fight, I go down to him and I said, "Hey, Mr. Moore, do you remember me?" And of course he says he did (but he didn't). He was just polite. And I said, "To be the best you've gotta fight the best. Do you still believe I that?" And he said yeah. "Well, can I show you what I've learned since you taught me?" And so he says yeah, sure, give it a shot. Give me your best shot. Well I did, and I landed one right on his nose.

Blake Harris: Really?

Frank Dux: Yeah, and he was not happy about that. And then the fight was on. We probably fought for a good 5-10 minutes before getting split up. And then all the Black Dragons got around me—they were like the Hells Angels of the martial arts world at that time—and I didn't know what they were going to do. I thought: Oh shit, I'm going to get my ass handed to me. I really screwed up. And tears started to form in my eyes. Then all of the sudden I got hit in the face with a Black Dragon shirt, and that's how I became the youngest Black Dragon in the history of the Black Dragons.

Blake Harris: That's unbelievable. How did you feel afterwards?

Frank Dux: It was an enlightening moment. It was a moment where you have to sit back and realize that sometimes when you think something's wrong, everything is going right. A good example of that is Bloodsport. I thought Bloodsport was going to ruin my career when it was first cut and put together. It was a horrible film. I mean, they put it on the shelf for two years. It wasn't until they allowed Jean-Claude to go in and recut the film that everything came together and it worked. I mean look at it today, it's a big cult classic.

Blake Harris: I'm glad that you brought that up, because that's exactly what I wanted to talk about next...

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Part 2: Enter the Ninja

In 1980, Frank Dux first came into the public eye via an article in the November issue of Black Belt magazine. The piece, entitled "Kumite: A Learning Experience," was written by editor John Stewart and begins with the following note: 

From time to time, Black Belt learns of unusual events or occurrences in the martial arts; events that—either because of their nature or because they occurred in the distant past—cannot be easily verified. Because we don't want our readers to be misinformed, Black Belt has a policy of strict verification of all facts pertaining to any article. In this case several members of the staff have invested considerable amounts of time and energy checking the details of the following article, which was the product of a series of four interviews conducted over a period of three months. Although there is no convenient way to verify each and every detail connected with this story, the editors have verified enough of the basic facts to feel confident in publishing it.

Blake Harris: The Black Belt article got a lot of attention and certainly must have piqued the interest of some folks in Hollywood. Did that piece directly lead to Bloodsport? Or was the movie developed in a totally different way?

Frank Dux: Well I'll tell you what happened. I met this guy Sheldon Lettich, who had done a play called Tracers and we became friends. Sheldon tells everybody that I told him a story of how I fought these events and he thought that would make a great movie and all this kind of stuff. And then he was inspired to write a script. But the truth is, I had already written a script called Enter the Ninja. And basically what happens is I told the story to Sheldon. He saw the script. He didn't like it. I turned over the programs from the fights that we had in those days. He had a chance to read them. I showed him some video footage, and that's how the project started.

Blake Harris: Before talking about next steps, I'm curious to hear more about your initial script. Can you tell me about writing Enter The Ninja? I imagine it's hard to write a personal, firsthand account like that.

Frank Dux: Here's the thing. In Enter the Ninja, I didn't use my real name. I used my Hebrew name: Benjamin Wolf. And I totally separated it. What I had done was I had the fight, like in Bloodsport, but there was one little caveat difference: In between doing these fights, he was also doing stuff to help people on the street. And that's why I kept it kind of fictional. But the fights in the story were all real. And what really grabbed Sheldon's attention was the fights.

Blake Harris: So what happened with the script? Was Sheldon the first person you shared it with?

Frank Dux: Well, it was supposed to be a series. A franchise was the idea. To turn it into a TV series. So I wrote the script and gave it to a guy named Jacov Bresler. He's a producer, he's got like 50 films under his belt. It was also seen by Viacom. They passed on it. Later on, after Sheldon and I got to talking, I gave it to Sheldon and we reshaped it.

Blake Harris: And at what point did the script become called Bloodsport. Or, better yet, where does that phrase come from?

Frank Dux: Oh, that's easy. My very first fight in Tijuana, they were fighting six of us, and there were only five us there; we were waiting for another guy. So I started doing a Howard Cosell imitation and that's where I came up with the term Bloodsport. That was a term, from England, when they used to fight dogs. And we were dogs being pitted against each other. So I just started calling it Bloodsport, and that was useful because this type of fighting, it had a different name depending on where you were. Like in South America it was called "Vale Tudo" and if the Japanese were running the event it was "Kumite San Soo," so this was a word that described them all.

Blake Harris: That's interesting. You had mentioned that you and Sheldon reshaped that original script. How involved were you with that reshaping?

Frank Dux: Every day, when Sheldon was writing the script, I would be in the office with him and Mark DiSalle, the producer. I was there at every meeting and, of course, they were getting all the ideas out of me. I literally wrote a good majority of that script with Sheldon, but I never got credit for it. In fact, I never even got story credit for it.

Blake Harris: That's rough.

Frank Dux: Well, Sheldon has made a career out of coming in behind me and putting his name on my work, okay? We're not friends [anymore] and he does everything in his power to try and paint me as being a nutball or a kook because of it.

Blake Harris: That's why I wanted to focus this piece on you, so you can tell the story in your own words.

Frank Dux: So now you're starting to hear the real truth of the matter, you know what I mean? And I can cite the evidence.

Blake Harris: Looking back—and considering what eventually happened after the film came out—is there anything you could have done differently?

Frank Dux: You know, it's part of life. You know what I mean? I saw Sheldon as my friend, and I was trying to help him. And I said, "Okay, Sheldon, you get the credits, and then when you get up to the next level, you just bring me up." And he agreed to that. But instead, he went back on his word and he did everything in his power to hold me down. And that's what I found out later in life. He did everything to basically poison the well with Jean-Claude and everybody I worked with. That was the real Sheldon Lettich. To my face he's pretending to be my best buddy, but behind my back he's doing everything in his power to undermine me in my career and take credit for my work.

Blake Harris: I'm really sorry to hear that.

Frank Dux: And that's a typical Hollywood story, right? You see it all the time. And I think it's because he felt very insecure. Because he's riding on the coattails of Jean-Claude. And if Jean-Claude had found out that I really was the—at that time, the real force, if you would—that was giving him all these elements, Sheldon's usefulness would have been short-lived. And he knows it. Because Jean-Claude uses people and chews them up as quick as he can. If he doesn't have any use for people, he throws them to the side. And he did that to Sheldon several times. Like with Legionnaire. Sheldon wrote Legionnaire and was supposed to direct it, but then Jean-Claude got someone else. And interestingly enough, it was only after Jean-Claude did that to Sheldon that he testified on my behalf in the case for The Quest.

Blake Harris: I understand. And it may be a typical Hollywood story, but you still never see it coming. Especially when you believe that person is your friend.

Frank Dux: Exactly. And that was the difference. I didn't see it coming.

Jean-Claude Van Damme

Part 3: Beef and Oyster Sauce

Blake Harris: So we know how Sheldon entered the picture, but how does Jean-Claude Van Damme become involved with Bloodsport?

Frank Dux: Oh, Jean-Claude tells this crazy story. Two, actually. He tells one where he says he met Menahem Golan [a producer on Bloodsport] at a restaurant and [Van Damme] threw out his legs and blah blah blah. And then there's another story where he met Menahem and did it another way in Monaco. The truth of the matter is that Jean-Claude had done a film called No Retreat, No Surrender. And he was brought to our attention through Sheldon. That this guy looks just like me and we should suggest it to Mark DiSalle. And we did.

Blake Harris: Did Mark and the other producers spark to the idea of Jean-Claude?

Michael Dudikoff

Frank Dux: They wanted to use Michael Dudikoff at first. But Michael Dudikoff is like 6'2," and the problem was they wanted to film in Asia. How are you going to get enough guys to fight against Michael who are even going to match his size? Do you see what I'm saying? The other thing is that Jean-Claude, like I said, he had this uncanny way he looked. And he did the helicopter kick in No Retreat, No Surrender and I was well known for my flying kicks and finishing guys off with my spinning flying kicks. And so, you know, it was just a nice fit. Mark was against it first, but I said, "Look, I can do a lot with this guy. He's got a lot of abilities. Give me a shot with him." Okay, try him out. And for three months prior to filming, Jean-Claude would come to my studio after I finished classes, he would show up at like 9 o'clock and I would train him in movie fighting.

Blake Harris: How skilled was he? Jean-Claude?

Frank Dux: When we started? He was very stiff. He had a karate background. But, I mean, he couldn't do a forward roll when I first got him. He frickin' landed on his head, in front of all my students. Are you kidding me? I mean, he couldn't do a throw. You try to get him to do a judo throw and he couldn't throw anybody. He was good at boxing. He was good at stiff karate moves, but that was it. But when I got done with him he was doing front flips, he was doing great.

Blake Harris: And what about his personality? What was he like?

Frank Dux: He was wonderful. The Jean-Claude I knew was a person who you wanted to see win. You wanted to help him be successful. He was pure, he didn't do drugs. He was totally against any kind of steroids. He took pride in the fact that he was all natural. And he was just a different person. And then Hollywood got to him and he started showing signs of manic depression, you know?

Blake Harris: In what way?

Lionheart

Frank Dux: I'll never forget. We were on the set of Lionheart. Actually, I should back up. I need to tell you about something that happened first. On Bloodsport, we got into it during one of the fight scenes. And I said, "Jean-Claude, that's bullshit. Fights don't go down like that." Then he said, "It's my movie too and I want what's best for the film! I'll show you a fighter and I'll fight you on the roof of the hotel!" And we did. He actually challenged me to a fight. And I said, "Okay, after dailies, I'll meet you up there." So he met me on the roof of the Victoria hotel. We're 60 stories in the air, I'm not kidding you. And I walked out on the ledge and I was waiting for him because I knew he wasn't going to come alone. And I was right: He came with [Bloodsport actor] Michel Qissi and two other guys. And he showed up and said, "I see he didn't show up." And I said, "Hey, asshole, I'm right over here." When he saw he had to walk [across] an I-beam to me, and I threw a jumping spin heel kick on the ledge of the building there, he goes: Holy shit." I said, "Real Kumite fighters, we fight here. You want to fight, let's fight?" And he just started laughing and he says, "Frank, you're crazy. You're craaaaaaazy." He says, "I love you. Okay, okay, you made your point. We do it your way. I buy you dinner tonight." And he did. He was the one who actually introduced me to beef and oyster sauce. I was afraid to taste it, because I'm allergic to shellfish. And so we had a great time. I walked over there and he threw a playful kick at my head. And we never had a fight from that point on. And we loved each other at that point.

Blake Harris: So you guys were really close...

Frank Dux: Yeah, this'll show you how close we were and tie back to what I was saying right before. So on Lionheart, I went up where [Jean-Claude] was standing on the ledge of the building, doing what I had done that he was afraid to do in Hong Kong. And he turns to me and he says: "You know, Frankie, I signed a five-picture deal. I met Gladys, the woman of my dreams, I had a baby, and I'm miserable. And I just want to end it right now." This is the kind of bond we had. And I could see he was really contemplating it. And I had to find a way for him to kind of come back in and get his mind out of it. And I'll never forget...and I'm terrified of heights, by the way. But I learned to conquer it, okay? So I climbed up on the ledge with him. And I'm talking a six-inch ledge. I'm not talking our toes are over the edge. In downtown L.A. And I go: Well, just do me a favor. And he says, "What?" And I said, "If you're gonna go, just don't pull me with you." I said, "But I can see your view from here and how the world could look bleak." I made a joke and it just took him out of it, snapped him out of it.

Blake Harris: Laughter is the best medicine, right?

Frank Dux: I took him out of it. And then he said, "What the hell are we doing out here?" I said, "You're trying to prove to yourself that you could do it. Because you didn't do it in Hong Kong." And he just laughed and said, "Come on, let me show you this house. It's incredible." And so we climbed back over the wall and onto the set. And we ran around like kids, just like kids, and he was showing me this beautiful art deco penthouse apartment in downtown L.A.

Blake Harris: That's a great image. But I'm curious, getting back to what you were saying earlier—and what to ultimately led to that story you described—at what point was the producer Mark DiSalle convinced that Jean-Claude would work? At what point along the way were his fears diminished?

Frank Dux: Well it was diminished when they were going to get rid of him—Jean-Claude doesn't realize how close he was to never having a career—and I took Mark off to the side and I said, "Look, I'm betting it all, Mark." And then they had me give up my net points on the film.

Blake Harris: Really?

Frank Dux: Yeah, for Jean-Claude to have his career, I gave up my net points. And we made money on that film. It was a no-budget. Jeez. The official budget's $1.2 million but I was told that we did that film—below the line—for under half a million bucks. I remember paying for the uniforms. I had my then-fiancé back in the United States get all the uniforms for them. They didn't have any proper uniforms. The uniform they had for Jean-Claude was silk pajamas, these Chinese silk pajamas. I'm not kidding you. It was ridiculous what they had. I actually sent for and had custom uniforms made. The red one, the blue one, the black one. Those were my uniforms. I had them cut down so it would fit him because I'm a bigger guy. So we had no budget on that movie and we did a great job.

Lionheart

Part 4: Authenticity

Blake Harris: You had mentioned earlier on that Bloodsport sat on the shelf for two years...

Frank Dux: Yeah, for two years it sat on the shelf. During that time, I gave Jean-Claude some odd jobs. Occasionally he'd come by the studio. He wanted to teach for me full time, but he ended up driving a limousine.

Blake Harris: And then why, after two years, was he allowed to start tinkering?

Frank Dux: I don't know, I couldn't tell you on that. I wasn't there. I think it was Jean-Claude finally convinced them to allow him to do it. And I gotta give him credit there. He went in and redid it. He remembered that there were different shots. A lot of those shots came from the camera angles I had been directing. They always gave me one camera to kind of use and shoot it the way I'd like to see shot. And a lot of those worked well when Jean-Claude recut it.

Blake Harris: I suspect that part of the reason they worked is because you, based on your experiences, were able to bring a certain authenticity to it.

Frank Dux: I think so too. I think that's why people really love it. There's an authenticity to it.

Blake Harris: Speaking of authenticity, I was wondering how much of the movie is accurate to your own life experiences?

Frank Dux: Well the fighting scenes were very accurate. As far as, like, the choreography for how fights go and stuff. But I didn't sleep with a reporter beforehand and I certainly didn't break into my instructor's house and steal a sword. I also was never AWOL. So those are the three elements. And it's kind of funny because those are superfluous elements to the film. I think what happened in reality was more interesting, but you have a limited amount of time to tell a story and it has to resonate with the audience, you know? It took me years to understand the producer's point, but I do now. His point was that they just wanted to show it was a kid in trouble who could have gone down a different path, but martial arts puts him on the right path. And in that way it works, I can see that.

With any film that's based on a true story, there are always questions and curiosities about authenticity. How much of the story really happened? How much of the character's personality is true to the individual who lived those events? Sometimes we get answers to questions like these, and other times we do not. Either way, it's fair to say that filmgoers are a pretty forgiving lot. We expect embellishment, we condone narrative condensation and we celebrate character-driven points of view. 

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Yet with Bloodsport, this was not the case. On May 1, 1988, just over two months after Bloodsport hit theaters, John Johnson of the L.A. Times published this editorial:

NINJA: Hero or Master Fake?

Others Kick Holes in Fabled Past of Woodland Hills Martial Arts Teacher

As the title suggests, the piece isn't too kind to Dux. Early on, Johnson describes him as "a bright but undistinguished young man who, using cleverness and chutzpah, recreated himself as a super-hero a decade ago, painstakingly authenticating his new persona with military medals, trophies and newspaper clippings of questionable origins."

Below are some of the key points and accusations made in the piece:

  • Dux's trophy from the Bahamas event was at least partially made in the San Fernando Valley.
  • "We have no recollection of such a tournament," said Kenneth Wilson, a spokesman for the Ministry of Sports in the Bahamas. Told that the tournament was a secret, he said: "We would know. No, never. It can't happen."
  • It chronicles his training by a Japanese master warrior named Tiger [Tanaka]...Shoto Tanemura, a Japanese who is one of a select group of recognized Ninja masters in the world, said in an interview in Los Angeles last week that he had never heard of Dux or Tanaka. "There is not Mr. Tanaka in Japanese history" of the Ninja families, Tanemura said.
  • That is not to say that the Tanaka name has no meaning. Millions of Americans were first introduced to Tiger Tanaka in the Ian Fleming novel You Only Live Twice, in which Agent 007 befriends a Japanese agent by that name.
  • Dux said the military ordered his record sabotaged to discredit him. The government did not know how much he knew about other covert operations, he said, so they placed information in his file to destroy his credibility.

Frank Dux: By the way, the L.A. Times won't even defend the article anymore. But they still run it. At one point it was the second most profitable article they'd ever written.

Bloodsport

Part 5: Ducks, Ponds & Pain

Blake Harris: That story in the L.A. Times was pretty brutal. How blindsided were you when the piece came out?

Frank Dux: Well, there was nothing I could do. I mean, the guy announced his malice. I went into the offices of the L.A. Times with my attorney with the actual fight film footage. They were supposed to present the supposed evidence that said things didn't exist. Well, about the only thing they showed was a trophy receipt.

Blake Harris: Which they claimed was evidence that the trophy you won was "at least partially made in the San Fernando Valley?"

Frank Dux: Yeah. And the receipt was dated 1982, okay? And it was a Xeroxed copy of a receipt, a copy that anyone could fabricate on a home copy machine. And on it, they didn't even spell my name correctly. It was "Dukes." And it wasn't even for the right trophy. Okay? And I showed them, here's an issue of Black Belt magazine from two years prior to this; and here's a photo of me in that magazine from January 1976 right after I won it, holding the trophy. Does that even look the same? That's not even my name. And here's the thing that gets me about how stupid people are. Mind you, he's alleging: You're gonna tell me a receipt floated around from 1980 to 1988? You see my point? That's just point of the absurdity of the whole thing.

Blake Harris: And, when you were there, how did the reporter respond to all this?

Frank Dux: I embarrassed the hell out of him. He couldn't say anything. And it became real clear and finally...I said show me the proof that I represented myself as a war hero, as a Medal of Honor hero? And they wouldn't show it to me. Well later on it comes out in court and it's a picture that they took of me on that pamphlet. By their own photographer. And I showed that in court. That picture with my hands crossed, you can see Bloodsport in the background. That was invented, right then and there. And so yeah. So he was just trying to get me in trouble.

Blake Harris: What, in your opinion, was his motive?

Frank Dux: Well, the thing is, the article came out on the same day that a few of my business competitors are holding a seminar. It was done on the exact same day that Masaaki Hatsumi, Stephen Hayes and Shoto Tanemura—these are guys who think no one in the world is a ninja but them and everyone else is a fake.

Blake Harris: What about some of the specific claims that the piece makes? Like, for example, about your teacher?

Frank Dux: They try to make it sound like I made up my instructor. Like I'm a kook because he comes out of a James Bond movie: You Only Live Twice. Tiger Tanaka, right? Well, here's the reality of the situation. Ian Fleming based his characters on real people. Like M was Admiral Menzies. And Tanaka was well known. He taught at the Nakano spy school in Japan. The ninja school if you want to call it that. Very well known. There's a birth certificate and a death certificate for him. And there's a census bureau report saying that he was exactly in the place I was when he trained me. None of that is reported. None of it.

Blake Harris: Interesting...

Frank Dux: And Shoto Tanemura, he says he's never heard of a Dukes or a Tanaka? There's not a Tanaka in Japanese history of the ninja families? What is he, a walking dictionary of a secret society? That's bullshit, that's total bullshit.

Blake Harris: What about those claims regarding your covert military background? I imagine that would be hard for you to prove, no?

Frank Dux: Well, that part about me saying that the military ordered my record sabotaged? Uh, no. I never said that. No. That editorial attributes statements to me that I never made. And it misrepresents my responses. I never accused the military of doing it. What I said to them [the LA Times] was that the only way you could get a hold of my records was to go to Federal Intelligence Court. How else could you get a hold of this? Or any agent's records? You can't just go in there and get it. So any time you want to know who an agent is you can just go down there and file a request? And the CIA and everyone is obligated to tell you? Is that what you're telling me?

Blake Harris: Right, that's why I thought it would difficult to prove (or disprove).

Frank Dux: Yeah, but I'll tell you what. In a recent documentary, Admiral Horton Smith not only acknowledges that I was a covert operative, but also states that any record of mine would have to come out of the Federal Intelligence Court. He's in a documentary saying this. He's also said it under oath by the way and identified me. Along with Alexander Martin.

To this point, on http://frankdux.net/facts/ there is a signed declaration by Lt. Commander Alexander Martin available for review. In this declaration, Commander Martin attests to the following:

  • During my intelligence career, I have met with and been introduced to many covert operatives, whose existence has often been officially denied by the government agencies that these parties have been associated with.
  • One of these covert operatives was one Frank Dux.
  • Mr. Dux and I met in Tegucigalpal, Honduras, in the summer of 1985, where I was being briefed by Dux and other intelligence operatives on military targets within Nicaragua. These targets included the planned mining of a Nicaraguan port and the planned sabotage of certain Nicaraguan installations including power stations and weapons depots, codenamed OPERATION CORDOBA HARBOR."

Frank Dux: As far as my military service goes, I should also mention that I'm named as a source contributor in the US Navy SEAL SPECWAR manual. If you want to look it up, the SEAL manual number is K-431-0097.

Blake Harris: Great. And just a few more questions. What was the reaction like from Sheldon, Jean-Claude and Mark [DiSalle]?

Frank Dux: They didn't care at that point. At that point, it was to their advantage. They could shut me out from sequel rights. And they did. They did sequels and I've never gotten paid for them when I was supposed to. They didn't back me up and they never said anything about seeing my fight footage.

Blake Harris: I'm really sorry to hear that.

Frank Dux: And one of the things that people don't realize is that after the Times article came out, people were so willing to convict me, just because it was the Times.

Blake Harris: I just have one last question for you: since this whole thing grew, in a way, out of your friendship with Sheldon, I was wondering when was the last time that you spoke with him?

Frank Dux: I saw Sheldon, believe it or not, about four weeks ago. For the first time in about 14 years. They were doing a showing of Bloodsport in a theater in my old home town and I just happened to be visiting. I actually got to take my mother for the first time to see the film. She'd never seen it. Well, she'd seen it on TV, but she was too sick when the movie came out. And it was just surreal to her. And here it is, years later, I got to go with her and take it to the movies. She loved it. I gotta tell you: Seeing it years later, I didn't realize how good it was. I was too close to it. And like I said, guys like Sheldon didn't help, putting a knife in my back.

Blake Harris: So what was it like seeing him at the screening?

Frank Dux: I was cordial. I was a gentleman. I'm not gonna stoop to his level. And he was friendly to me. He was friendly with me. He didn't know what to think. I'll tell you one thing: When I was there, I got a standing ovation. Nobody clapped for Sheldon. He was crushed. And everybody had their picture taken with me, and I don't recall anyone having their picture taken with Sheldon, outside of his friends. I felt bad for him.

Blake Harris: Actually, if you don't mind, I have one more question for you.

Frank Dux: Sure.

Blake Harris: We've spent all of this time talking about your life as a fighter and portrayals of your life as a fighter. And regardless of what any critics may say or believe, I don't think anyone would argue that you weren't extremely talented. So I was curious why you think you were so skilled? What made you such an extraordinary fighter?

Frank Dux: Well, you know what? I wasn't a bitter person. I always try to look for the best in people. And a lot of pain, I guess, made me fight. It was just a way to release it. For me, martial arts is just a release. It's a way for me to just flow. Everywhere else in my life I'm like a duck out of water, but put me in that arena and I just swim. That's water off my back.