Kumite Kumite Kumite! If you thought Bloodsport was dramatic, wait until you hear about the story that inspired it. Bloodsport allegedly tells the true story of Frank Dux, a martial arts expert who claimed to participate in and win a Kumite, an illegal, secret fighting tournament. If the story behind Bloodsport sounds straight out of fiction, you might be on to something. You see, whether or not the events of Bloodsport are real, Dux lies about, or at least greatly exaggerates, many aspects of his career.
Dux claims to be a legendary fighter with several world records—but only he can verify them. He also says he worked as a covert operative in the '80s and was offered a contract to kill another famous fighter. The whole story, regardless of its validity, is just as engaging, if not more so, than Bloodsport itself.
There's no doubt Dux is a talented martial artist—and he does train fighters at his gym in California. But some of his claims are laughably outlandish. According to Dux, someone offered him $25,000 to assassinate another noted martial artist: Steven Seagal.
No records exist of Dux reporting this to the police or of him actually attempting to snuff out Seagal, so this is probably nonsense.
Frank Dux reportedly won a sword for winning the Kumite; inconveniently for Dux, he no longer owns that sword. Apparently, he sold the sword to pay for a mission to rescue orphans from pirates in the Philippines. Dux says many of them now reside in the US, and are loyal enough to kill for Dux.
When claims of Dux's tall tales came to light, though, none of these children came forward to back him up.
In addition to his acting career, Jean-Claude Van Damme competed as a world-class kickboxer. During his career as a fighter, Van Damme held an 18-1 record, but that didn't do him much good when it came to training for Bloodsport. When Dux met Van Damme, Dux realized Van Damme wasn't exactly flexible:
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.
Dux trained Van Damme for three grueling months, but it paid off; the fight scenes in Bloodsport are incredible and Van Damme looks ready to fight to the death.
Dux grew up outside of Los Angeles and, until he was 16, had a typical suburban childhood. At age 16, he says Senzo "Tiger" Tanaka took him to Japan to train as a ninja. Shoto Tanemura, a well-known ninja trainer, says he never heard of Tanaka and that Dux fabricated his training sessions in remote Japanese mountains.
Yet the story of Tanaka remains key to the Dux legend, as he claims the master's dying wish was for him to fight in the Kumite and become the first Westerner to win the contest. An interesting fact, considering Dux also says he has no idea what happened to Tanaka.