Jon Bluming is a leader of Europe’s International Budo Kai Kan Foundation. Born in Holland 1933, he is a veteran of two tours in the infantry in Korea. After receiving 3-dan in judo in Holland, he went to Japan in 1959, where he lived until 1961. His instructors included Donn Draeger, Mas Oyama, Kenji Kurosaki, and Ichitaro Kuroda, and he is graded in judo (9th Dan), karate (10th Dan), iaido, and jodo.
He is a former coach of the Belgian and Dutch national karate teams, and his internationally known students include Olympic judo champion Willem Ruska, world sambo champion Chris Dolman, and current RINGS champion Dick Vrij. “What I teach,” says Bluming, “is neither Kodokan judo nor Kyokushin Kai karate but instead a mix of one-third karate and Thai boxing, one-third throwing techniques I teach seven different throws and one-third groundwork. That altogether is the full circle of unarmed fighting. That is not arrogant, that is the truth.”
Realfighting: OSU, Kancho (Bluming), it’s a pleasure speaking to you.
Thank you, I have no objection for an interview with a real budoka, SO, if you have some questions FIRE AWAY
Currently in the United States the state of martial arts is where many black belts can’t fight, techniques are taught that are of no use and the general quality of martial arts instruction is down.
Don’t worry about what became of budo in the USA;it is not different in other countries and in Europe. Perhaps France is a country where you have to follow the State of French course for several years to become a STATE LICENSED teacher or sensei, no matter what kind of budo discipline. The course in judo given by the most famous judo champs from their old days. NOBODY, not even a new world champion can open a dojo, not even as an amateur if he does not have a license. THAT’S the only way!
Realfighting: Here in the States, anyone can open a martial arts school anytime
In Holland there is freedom in teaching sports, anybody can open a
professional dojo and start to make money. Like a former student of mine, in the ’60s who was for 6 weeks in my old dojo and put on a black belt and started his own affair.
Since especially in those days it was a new thing he had many students but
did not know his ass from a hole in the ground.
Realfighting: What can be done?
Those matters cannot be helped and will continue, especially in the USA. I have seen karateka with terrific names in the USA and so called champs who could hardly beat my grandmother if she had an umbrella in her hands.
Realfighting: What criteria should a potential student use when selecting a school or teacher?
One should always go into the background of the sensei he wants to study under, and then decide if it’s worth it. Now don’t forget there are very good sensei’s who never really fought in a contest but have the ability to show their students how it is done and make good teachers and champs in the process.
Realfighting: There are many martial arts instructors whose first priority is making money.
Especially in the USA, most guys are teaching to make as much money as possible and give hardly anything worth knowing in return. Yes, it has really changed over the years, now they are usually only interested in MONEY but one thing had not changed, but some still fight and learn HARD to get on the top.
Realfighting: How did you get started in martial arts?
The first time I became really keen on martial arts was as a kid reading the comic strips of Dick Bos, a so-called famous sort of Zorro in Holland during WWII.
Realfighting: Your first real practice then started in Korea?
When I finally had my first tour of duty in Korea (August 1951) and was
wounded twice, we had to stop for several weeks in Yong Dong Poo, close to
Seoul, and I ran into a very small dojo run by a sensei names Park, (I can’t remember what they where doing, it was not Tae kwon do but something similar). I practiced there for a few weeks until we left for Holland and that’s how I really started.
We had NOTHING like that in Holland, and after my second tour of duty (after seeing a show given by the famous “MIFUNE” (during a tour to the old KODOKAN) when I was in the hospital in Tokyo (February 1951). I found a dojo in Amsterdam of the “Neth Amateur Judo Association” of the famous Dr. Schutte (affectionately called OPA by the students).
Realfighting: So this was the beginning?
Yes, and I entered the world which made me a budoka, and it has run my life since then. I was lucky to make it to the top and get the first most coveted BLACK belt, and years later the red and white belt, being the first foreigner in the world to get that in Japan.
Realfighting: I’ve noticed many red/white and red belts in the USA
There are more clowns with red and red and white belts in the USA than at the Barnum and Bailey circus. It amazes me how many 10th dans there are running around, whose only concern is to make money and promote themselves, they never amounted to anything but BULL SHIT.
Realfighting: Did you learn martial arts for self-defense?
Learning and fighting was indeed for the art itself. I wanted to learn and fight, to become one of the best, NOT for the money, I was not even thinking of the possibility to open a dojo in those days. I was just an ordinary working bastard who made very little money and JUST LOVED THE SPORT and the traditions around it all, and I swore that I would one day go back to Japan to learn it all.
I am still the only one in the world now who holds a REAL 10th dan in karate from Japan and 5 different organizations who signed it.
GET MY BOOK from Joseph Svinth firstname.lastname@example.org and you get a good background and I don’t have to write another book to you. I lived only for JUDO in those days and nothing else. We even had to pay our own tickets (for the train) to fight in contests in other cities, but we loved it and were real pissed if we did not get a place on the National team.
Realfighting: You were one of the first people to cross-train in several arts, what do you think of the no-holds-barred (NHB) and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA’s) that have become so popular, like the UFC, Pride, Pancrase etc?
I showed Oyama in March 1966 my idea of all-round karate. For karate means empty hand, and in my opinion that means anything goes as long as one has no weapons, not even a pencil in his hands.
It was the UWF who really started in Japan. I went there with Chris Dolman and Dik Vry. They beat the piss out of the Japanese, the Americans and especially the Russians. Now don’t forget that Dolman was already three times world champ in Sambo, European Judo champ and 20 times champion in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling.
So in 1993 Dolman became the first world champion for RINGS in Tokyo and made $100,000. I think it is great that the evolution of man-to-man fighting took such a tremendous step. It really pisses me off that I was getting to old to participate anymore (and because of my injuries).
The K-1, where mostly students of Jan Plas and Johan Vos (both from my dojo) hold high grades now (Jan is 8th dan). Pancrase also made headlines with Dolman’s student, Bas Rutten, and my personal student Sem Schilt, who took the title three times, and now fights the Pride tournaments. It’s only the cage fights I don’t really like because I think in Budo, we should remain a little human???
Realfighting: Do these (MMA) people have more skill nowadays than fighters in the early days?
Yes, of course they have more skill than the old time fighters (in karate). That’s the reason that the Japanese NEVER won anything, certainly not in all-round karate. They got their asses kicked every time. I challenged Matsui and his sister-boys to a good team fight to be held in Japan in 1994. I told him to be Captain so that I could face him, AND in a ring, so that he couldn’t run away. Then make a 10-man team so that 2nd is Dolman etc. He nearly choked. The witness was Akira Maeda from Rings place was the West city hotel in Shinjuku.
Don’t forget the almost homo games from the Wado and the JKA Shotokan karate groups, like no contact. In the old days even my granny could beat those guys if she had a umbrella in her hands. It is absolutely no comparison. Good judoka have no chance against a good kick boxer. But all together with a strong mind and bringing your pain (borders) to great heights, and a terrific fighting spirit, you can be almost undefeatable.
Realfighting: Many people in the USA say that Mixed Martial Arts developed so quickly because many martial arts students wanted to know if their techniques really worked they lost confidence in their arts.
That’s right, but in a very modest way. WHY? Because in the States where there are more MOUTH specialists than in Europe (I don’t know why) there are not that many who want to put their fighting ability where their mouth is. And even if they have the spirit, there are not many who are really good and know what they are doing (with a clear mind).
Realfighting: You really train your fighters well, it seems many fighters from Holland are on top
Yes, I trained them so good that the CRAZY family (The Gracies) with their big mouths NEVER wanted to fight Chris Dolman no matter how many times he tried to get them on the mat in Japan. That goes now also for Sem Schilt. I cannot image that any of the Gracies can beat them. But the Gracies are great showman and surely no pushovers.
Realfighting: Much of Mixed Martial Arts nowadays concerns itself with three basic styles that everyone uses; those are Muay Thai (for kicks, knees and elbows), Boxing (for punches) and various forms of grappling (Gracie, Sambo, Wrestling, Judo). Are you training your students in these styles as well, or using strictly Karate and Judo?
Yes, that’s right, but I think you give the Gracies too much leverage; they did NOT bring in something new. And if they change the rules so that you are allowed to hit or kick when one knee is on the mat that would change the whole story. I have seen that in February in Tokyo when one of the Gracie’s fought and lost miserably to a kick boxer.
All he did was constantly dive for the legs knowing that if his knees are on the mat his opponent was not aloud to hit him. Of course I trained them in those styles, I did those techniques in Kodokan 42 years ago when Gracie was in his diapers.
You can learn from every style in fighting, even what not to do. Don’t get me wrong I am NOT knocking the Gracies, and they are right to make a good show that brings in the money. But if you claim that nobody can beat you than he should have fought Chris Dolman, but he always refused and did not even answer his letters or from Rings Tokyo.
Sem certainly wants to fight them so let them contact PRIDE. But I don’t think they will do that. People who come to most dojos are certainly NOT looking to go in to all-round fighting, they just think mostly that they can learn some self-defense and get some secret stuff??? Ha, ha and can give a good fight in the streets when they have to. That does NOT work, for even good fighters are NOT street fighters, for they do not have the killer instinct, as a real born fighter has. That’s the reason that you will not often see real good all-round fighters like Dolman, the first Gracie, Sem Schilt, Ernesto Hoost. Peter Earts, etc.
Realfighting: So you teach a basic sound program for all students, no matter if they want to train for self-defense or for the ring?
The way I teach my students, is basic techniques, as simple as possible, but techniques that really work, and should became second nature if necessary, automatically. A fight for your life on the streets is completely different than a fight for money or especially for a CUP on the mat of a stadium.
Realfighting: During the last few years, the term reality-based martial arts has become very popular. Many people want to concentrate solely on simple but effective self-defense instruction [that works] without the mysticism and hours spent practicing kata. Is this starting to become popular in Europe also and are you involved with this yourself?
Popular in Europe, SURE and nothing else, but again we also have 90% bullshitters against a handful of the best in the world and they have proved that in the last 10 years.
All the bullshit about mystique etc. is funny, but in my group we do have some tradition and etiquette which is good for morale and should become like a kind of brotherhood, and that has nothing to do with the Chinese or Japanese bullshit.
Realfighting: You’ve had an interesting career in the martial arts; you were actually one of the forerunners of European Budo.
Yes, that’s how it started in Europe. When I came back from Japan in 1961 there was NOTHING except judo, I had to start from NOTHING so then it is not that bad, how it finally developed until today.
Realfighting: Tell us about your style of Karate, how it developed and your experiences with Oyama.
Well, in the typical karate fight there are all the corner referees and the referee and all the whistling and screaming and then they have to stop, go again, then apart and go again, round after round, which is ridiculous. It has nothing to do with fighting.
Once I am very close, I want to get the son-a-bitch down, and then do groundwork, and that’s what I showed Oyama in ’66, and he nearly had a heart attack. But he allowed me to teach at his dojo, that’s why Ashihara became one of my students and Peter McLean and a few other guys, and that’s how I fought the little, (what the hell was his name again?) oh, Fujihira, who was the lightweight champion, and later lightweight world champion in Thai boxing, (But of course he was only 63 or 65 kilos, and I at the time was 102 kilos).
But anyway, Oyama said that one could not touch him (Fujihira), because you will be knocked out or kicked out. I said sensei, that’s ridiculous, if there is a strong man, bigger, and the guy is agile and very fast, he will jump him, so Fujihira wouldn’t have a chance to kick, punch or do whatever, and even if he does, there will be no more power in it, no more than 30 or 40 percent of the original kick or punch. And then he is taken down, and on the ground he is nothing, he is like a little baby, and he will be ripped apart.
Yeah, well Oyama didn’t think so. So when Fujihira came in the dojo, (downstairs, only a six mat dojo or something) I saw his face, like, what the hell is this, you know, then I told him what I said, then asked don’t you believe it either? So I did one little move forwards, and he was right away in his fighting stance, and that pissed me off, so I yelled Bang and jumped him, and yanked him down, tied his hands with his own belt, and tied his feet with my belt, and tied them together, and then he was just like a little post package. And then Oyama came in, and for the second time he nearly had a heart attack. What is this he said? Well that’s the style I talked to you about. And you said he couldn’t be touched, look at him and that was actually the first of many incidents that drove me away from Kyokushinkai in 1970.
Realfighting: I was living at Yamaguchi Gogen’s place when I was young, he was nice to me, did you have any experience with him?
Yes, he had a good dojo, and he was a helluva good guy, and a very good friend of mine.
Realfighting: While I was training at Gogen’s, I went to visit Oyama’s place, I was downstairs and he walked in (with about five or six Yakuza) and asked me where I trained. When I told him Gogen’s, one of his guys laughed and said the ballerina school, but wasn’t Gogen his teacher?
Well that’s where he learned his karate and nowhere else! And I don’t know if you read one of his old books, (it was written by one stupid American who didn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground). He claims that Oyama captured the national title of Japan “knockout karate” in Kyoto in 1947. That’s fuckin impossible. That’s impossible because the Shogun of Japan at that time was MacArthur, and he forbid any martial art that had to do with fighting, he finally said Judo was OK (’46 or ’47 I think), because that was a sport, a game, and not really violent.We trained in the old Kodokan with Suidobashi, where I trained with weights in the ’60s. So that’s the first big lie I came across.
The second one was that he said he was going to the mountain for special training for no longer than three weeks or six weeks, but no longer than that He told me! When I left three years later, he told other people he was on the mountain for three years? How the fuck did he do any karate? Then he claims he did Judo, saying he was a Kodokan third dan. They say, he never personally says anything like that; he always let other people say things about him. And he just nods and looks at them with a yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, but it’s a lie. He never did ANY Judo at the Kodokan, he did some boxing, when he was a kid, and the pictures are in my book. But no karate, and no judo as a kid. And when he claimed he was doing karate in ’46 or ’47, that’s a big lie also, he just got out of the army.
Realfighting: So his first and only teacher was Gogen?
Yes! Yes! And I know that from Kurosaki. I don’t know if you know Kurosaki, and I don’t know if he wants to talk about it, he did with me. And he told me they were training with Yamaguchi, and Oyama became a nidan. On Kurosaki, I don’t know if he had a dan, but Kurosaki was good, he was a real killer.So then they decided to make their own organization, because they said there must be a hell of a lot of money in this business, and they made it worldwide so every school and member would pay a fee every year, members would pay $10, and later the fee was brought down to $3, and I finally brought it down to $3 for a lifetime membership.
Realfighting: Did you meet Tadashi Nakamura?
Yes, of course, he was a kid. And all the talk where he is a big champion is a lie; he never fucking entered any kind of championship.
Realfighting: Didn’t he beat some top Muay Thai champion?
No, no, no, no, no, he did beat someone there, but not a top Thai boxer. But the one who really beat a lightweight Thai boxer was Fujihira. But he threw him with ippon seinage a few times, and that banged the guy up so he could knock him out.
Realfighting: What about the story, that Oyama sent someone to New York to kill Nakamura, is that true?
Yes, that’s true; they shot him in the knees.
Nakamura was a good dojo fighter, absolutely, he was a terrific teacher, absolutely, but in the old system, the old fashioned system, he couldn’t do anything today with the caged fights, the K-1 fights, the free fights, they would kill him, even if he was 20 years of age, in that old style, but that’s the old fashioned way. One thing I didn’t like is that he gave himself a 10th dan when he was about 40, in Japan you have to be at least 61 to receive this belt.
What I admired about Nakamura is that he saw the dirty things that were being done with the so-called world championships, and he wouldn’t go along with it. He was a referee when, I think it was Williams, from the States, the big Black fellow, and a hell of a good fighter, he gave him the decision and the Japanese were screaming to reverse the decision, and he didn’t want to do that, and then he wrote a letter saying, sorry, my heart is with Kyokushinkai, I really love you, but I cannot abide with you anymore, because of all the dirty business. This (organization) has nothing to do with the true spirit of and tradition of karate, and sorry, I can’t do it anymore. That was already when he was sent to New York to teach there. And opened the first dojo under Japanese supervision of the Hombu. I was in New York with my wife in June 1971, Nakamura and Shigeru Oyama invited me to a Japanese dinner and that’s the last time I ever saw them.
Realfighting: Do you remember Shigeru Oyama?
Oh yes, he’s an asshole. He tried to run his so-called Oyama worldwide organization but always asked for more money so everyone quit on him.
Realfighting: I was thrown out of his school, (in New York City), because I didn’t fight by their silly (karate) rules, I also threw people to the ground.
Yeah (laughter), that’s what I mean, the old fashioned way, like keeping the kids happy and take their money. But anyway nowadays he drinks more than he trains and his students in Holland have come to my dojo now, they don’t
want anything to do with him.
Realfighting: You once mentioned you teach seven throws to your students, which throws are those?
Well to show them the way, how everything started from the beginning I show them the 1) Uki-goshi, the ordinary wrestling hip throw, and the second one is the full hip-throw2) O-Goshi (the hip is completely in) the third one is the hip-leg throw 3) Haraigoshi), the next one is 4) Osotogari (going to the back), then comes 5) Ippon seionage (going under a puncher’s arm and throwing him over your head), 6) and the next one is kosoto-gake, on the other side, backwards, then the last one is Deashi-kake, like the kickboxers do, but right behind the ankle with the inside of your foot.
Those are the seven throws I show them, but I always tell them, look, you don’t really need to know those seven throws really well, but if you only have a good hip throw – a good Haraigoshi, and a good Osoto-Gari, and a good side kick like a good kosoto-gake, or Deashi-Kake, then you’re in, that’s all you need.
And on the ground I teach them, what I call the circle, you start with Kesa-gatame from Judo, and when he gets a little out of it you go on both knees, and go around him with both arms, one around his neck, one around his body, and when he gets out nearly out of that, you must put your left leg forwards besides his body, so you sit on your ass again, and then you lay with your whole chest on his head, and when he gets out of that, you quickly push his head in the middle by your crotch, and push down with your elbows on his biceps, but really strong, but don’t grip him, once you grip him, then you make one body from two, and if he’s strong he can twist you around.
Realfighting: What do you think about the Gracies?
You know, I admire Gracie, at least the first one, some of the other ones, I don’t know, they are big mouths. I saw one last February fighting at Rings, and he was just a big showoff, and he caught a low kick so hard that both legs came from the floor and he banged his head. Every time they try to rush forward and grab your legs, but you know what’s funny about it, they know as soon as they grab your leg, there’s always one leg on the tatami. Once that happens, you are not allowed to hit him. If I would fight a guy like that, I would tell him, look, even at my age, I like to fight you, but no rules! So more bullshit with one leg on the ground, and I’m not allowed to hit you, so once he comes in then, I will punch so hard, or a shuto so hard, it will break his fucking neck. But you’re not allowed to do that.
One of my best students, Gilbert Eifel, he fought one of the wrestlers who was light heavyweight champion from Sydney, and fought at that same tournament in February last year in Rings in Tokyo, and he jumped forward and gripped the legs of the big Negro Eifel, and Eifel just elbowed him, Bang, and he nearly killed him, right between the shoulders, wap! But he was almost disqualified, he lost three points, he lost the goddam shiai, and he lost the title, it cost him $200K.
And that’s what I mean phony, and this wrestler didn’t do anything, not an arm lock, not a leg lock, absolutely nothing except jumping forward, grip with both hands, one leg or two legs, and nothing happened, not a throw, punch or kick, and he won $200K by decision.
Realfighting: So they’re training to beat the rules, that’s it?
Right, right, and Gracie, the first Gracie, he claimed no one could beat him, then Dolman, my student who was the first “real” unofficial world champion beat everybody, the Russians, Ukrainians, an American I don’t know, he beat the piss out of them, really bad, and he said I want to fight with our friend Gracie, he wrote him a registered letter and never received an answer. That was in ’93, and then came the bullshit story, well you can always come to my dojo and fight me, they won’t fight you in the dojo, but in the arena, so they can make another $100K.
All the fight organizations in Japan are run by gangsters, the top Yakuza, everybody knows that.
Realfighting: Yeah, Mas Oyama surrounded himself with gangsters.
Yes, but Kurosaki too, Kurosaki used to be his consigliere.
Realfighting: Is Kurosaki the guy who hated Gaijins (white people) and beat them up all the time?
I don’t know? I never fought with him, he never wanted to, because he saw me beat up one of the champions, and I didn’t know any karate, and I was just starting, I was there for 10 days or something like that, but I was a fanatic in this place and I was already a fourth dan in Judo. And as soon as I had this guy in the corner he didn’t know what to do, he wanted to punch me but I just gripped his gi and picked him up, he was hanging above my head and Oyama screamed STOP, so I put him down again, so from that day on, everyone was walking big circles around me.
Realfighting: How tall are you?
In those days I was 6′- 4″ (in centimeters 196) or something like that, now I shrunk.
Realfighting: But you’re solid.
Yes, but I wasn’t solid when I started, In my old Judo days as an amateur I weighed 78 kilos, and when Draeger (Donn Draeger) started training me, in March 1959, by November I was a solid 102 kilos.
Realfighting: Was Draeger a nice guy?
He was the best; he could run circles around all the top Judoka in the Kodokan, all the 8th and 9th and 10th dans. He knew more in his left hand than they knew in their whole body in Judo. He was a real martial artist, and had the body of a Greek god. He was so strong, he was one man I could never throw when we were fighting around a bit, and on the ground I could never do anything with him.
Realfighting: How tall was he?
He was 190 or 192, he was an old Marine Major, but he was solid, he was strong.
Realfighting: It seems like you and Draeger were the first mixed martial arts, cross-trainers?
Yes, Draeger asked me around the summer of ’59, Jon, you really want to know the background of the Japanese samurai, of all the martial arts, I said yes, he said let’s join the bo-jitsu class from Shimizu and Kuroda.He said they’re police instructors, one is 10th dan, the other is 7th dan.They’re terrific, and we can learn about the sword, the live sword, Kendo and bo-jitsu (stickfighting). So that’s what we did, twice a week, for two and a half years, and then we gave a big demonstration in 1961, in Hibiya Hall, and it was also a test, and we both got a third dan from the Japanese Kendo Federation in Bo-Jitsu; and before I left for Holland I go my third dan in iai-jitsu. In ’66 I got my second dan in Kendo from Kuroda.
Realfighting: So you were the unpublicized pioneers of mixed martial arts? I thought it all started in America?
No, In America they have about a million organizations, and one is worse than the other. And once you say, let’s get together and do a little work in the dojo, they piss in their pants; they don’t want to do that. As a matter of fact I just had some fall-out with some members in my organization. A guy called Antonio Bustillo, from Miami, Aguilar Fernando from Miami, and Carlos Feliz, who is from Puerto Rico but lives in Florida. They asked to be members, so I said OK, and they paid their lifetime membership fee, only $15, I mean I’m not in it for the money, I’m in it for the fun, but I need to run the organization and I need some money to do that. So they also asked for a grade, and they sent me certificates that they had grades by other organizations, so I found that I had to start somewhere, so I made Bustillo (a former police officer) a fourth dan, and Carlos also a fourth dan.
Now it turns out that Carlos hadn’t done anything for years and years, and was just a fat pig and wants a certificate from the famous Budokai, from Bluming, and also he want to organize something to make money or what. Then all of a sudden two guys from Uruguay come in; their names are Guzman and Daniel, both good guys who have dojos. Carlos, Fernando and Bustillo don’t have dojos, they just train somewhere sometimes. Now I accepted those guys because Carlos asked me too, he was some kind of assistant, so I said, if you say these guys are good, I will accept them. And I did, then all of a sudden when they became 4th dans, then everyone started screaming, how is this possible, and finally I told Carlos, you were the one who told me to accept them. So I told Carlos if you can’t accept it, if it is against your principles (ha, ha, ha) then quit and he did. So I said OK, thanks for everything you did for me, and this is the end then, and then Bustillo quit, and the other one Fernando stopped too. I didn’t care, I slept very well that night, because I was sick of all that bullshit, and that’s what you have in that whole Budo world. For 50 years I’m in it, in Holland, with Judo in the old days, with Karate later, I was the one who introduced Karate and Judo to Europe; no one did any Karate and Judo. Some people couldn’t even spell it, and some people didn’t even know what it meant. I started from scratch, in December 1961, and we made the first European Union in January 2, 1962, and look at it now in Europe, there are a couple of million dojos, and nobody knows I started it, almost nobody.
So I’m happy Bustillo and the other guys left, they don’t have members, nothing, the hell with them, and that is the thing you always have to deal with, that’s why I like Joseph Svinth, because he is apart from any bullshit and politics, he says people want to train, fine, if they don’t want to train, fuck off. And we don’t care about grades and just want to be taught by someone who knows what he is doing. So they invited me last year, and it was a good seminar. I didn’t know the guys, and now I do know the guys and they invited me again.
Realfighting: Kancho, getting back to styles, I like Muay Thai very much, especially the elbow and knees, what’s your feeling on it.
Yes, yes, it’s good, it’s very good. The only thing what I have against Muay Thai for self-defense is that there is no throws, and no groundwork.
And you know, it’s very funny, the Chinese Boxing Federation, the Wing Chun, they are very very selfish and dedicated to their own style. My boys went over there (to Emin Boztepe’s) Dolman and Vrij and a few other guys, because he claimed no one can beat him, you know, he was on his knees crying, and I’m not kidding you. He’s an asshole. He said, please guys this is only for advertising, come on, I just want to make a dollar, that’s all, so they just spit on him and they left. No, he’s an asshole. I personally don’t know him.
Then there’s a guy named Dick Wachtberger. To my great surprise, last year he called me and said, Mr. Bluming, sensei, is it possible that you accept an invitation to teach for a few hours? I was surprised; he said we want to see some other styles, and what’s going on. I said sure, so he was so surprised and so happy with it, after the teaching, that he instead of the money he promised me, he gave me 50% more. He said you deserve it (laughter) it was funny. So after that I taught again and next month I teach again there. They want to know about groundwork and some throws, and that’s nice.
Realfighting: I just got back into martial arts last year after a nine-year hiatus, and I agree with you, the politics just stinks. So when I came back, I said no more traditional bullshit. Now I do Muay Thai for elbows, knees and kicks, boxing for punches, and Gracie for groundwork, what do you think of that?
Good, good! Yes that’s good, Gracie certainly knows groundwork. That’s why in 1980, after a few years completely quitting, because I didn’t want anything to do with those assholes in the organizations, the Dutch Marines called me and said, Sensei, we want you to come back and teach again. Because I taught them from 1964, well I came there, and I taught them again, and I said, no more traditional karate, all around karate, so throws and groundwork. Oh, they loved it. I’m still teaching there, last year I was at the Dutch Marine base in the Caribbean, and this year I go there again.
Realfighting: How much do you charge for a seminar?
Oh, that has nothing to do with a charge, if they can get a lot of people together, and can pay wherever I have to go (business class) and have a reasonable hotel, and they say look, we have so much money, I say OK. I mean, I don’t do like the Japanese, I want ten thousand dollars and my family must all come first class. And then they teach you things that you learn in the first week at the Kodokan as a beginner. That’s ridiculous.
Realfighting: When I was a teen in Japan we (all the students) were pressured to join every special training camp, otherwise we were ostracized. So we all paid $150 dollars to go to useless training camps, where we practiced beginner exercises.
Yes, yes, and in those days that was a lot of money. In the old days they did that in Europe too. They don’t do that here anymore, because there is not one dojo or organization in Holland that invites a Japanese to teach anymore, because we are much better. They are absolutely beaten all the time. Is there any Japanese who ever won a world championship in Karate? No, Oyama did by rigging the thing (laughter).
One of my students who is now a 6th dan, the one who runs the Marine and Navy training in Curacao. He said to me, (when he was in Holland), “Sensei, there’s a Mr. Suzuki from England, he is a Japanese, he is an 8th dan, he is going to teach in one of the local dojos. Are you mad if I go there? I said no, you can go wherever you want to. You can learn from every style, even if it is how not to do it. It was expensive, 165 Dutch florins, and he’ll only come, only if there are 30 guys. So two days later he calls me and says sensei, you were right. Stupid bastard that I am, you know what we did? For 20 minutes we sat there in Zazen, because he claimed we didn’t know how to, he corrected our heads and our feet and our hands. It was driving us crazy, because our western legs weren’t made for Zazen. So after we had 20 minutes warming up, then he taught us 20 minutes like the old fashioned way, you know, open up with the stance and start ichi, ni, san, mate, turn around, ichi, ni, san, second time with the feet and so on. Then they stopped and everybody thought, oh now he’s going to show us some real nice techniques, but that was the end, $165. And I said I told you, the Japanese are all pimps on the martial arts. Except for a few guys, like Kuroda, who didn’t care about money. Once I didn’t go to his dojo, because I didn’t have any money, so the next time I went there he was mad that I didn’t come, he didn’t care about the money at all. He said it’s not for the money, and that’s a true Budoka!
You know it’s the same with Kurosaki, he has a beautiful song, translated, it means, straight away, it has nothing to do with money, it has to do with spirit, training and to make yourself better. And that’s Kurosaki, he doesn’t want money.
Realfighting: In America, many people chase the mysticism; they actually want it and invent it when there isn’t any.
There’s no mysticism in martial arts, it’s hard work, sweat, tears, they invent it because they don’t know how to fight or what they’re doing.And that’s the way they keep their students together, so at least they can buy a good car and house.
It has nothing to do with sports.
Realfighting: Well Kancho, thank you for everything. I appreciate you’re one of the only people who honestly state the truth.
Yeah, because I don’t need the money.
Realfighting: Again, thank you very much
Well old boy, hope I didn’t bend you ear too much.
Jon Bluming was featured in The Learning Channel documentary Martial Arts: The Real Story (Pacific Street Films, 2000), see video reviews section in issue #1, and recent English-language publications include:
- The Beast of Amsterdam. Journal of Combative Sport, November 1999
- Doing Judo at the Korean Yudo Association. Journal of Combative Sport, March 2000
- Jon Bluming: From Street Punk to 10th Dan Amsterdam: Jon Bluming, 2000.
- Without Spirit, Bud Is But an Empty Shell, Journal of Asian Martial Arts, 7:2 1998.