Category Archives: martial arts

Mas Oyama and the Kang Duk Won

Behind the Scenes at the Kang Duk Won

This post concerning Mas Oyama, Don Buck, and other early pioneers in American Karate, was actually written by Master Instructor BJ. I didn’t know some of this, and there is no way I can compete with the original words presented here. I suggest you do a little googling of the names involved to pad out what you’re about to read. It is well worth it. The original post appeared on

The Story of the Kang Duk Won in America

Sifu Al, you probably know this already but when teenage Don Buck started training with Duke Moore in 1946 fresh out of the US Navy where Don was the US Navy Pacific Fleet 137lb Champion and also wrestled and studied Combat Judo & Defendu.

From the Hawaiian Karate Museum, John D. Pell collection. John Pell, Don Buck, Mas Oyama, Gosei Yamaguchi.

From the Hawaiian Karate Museum, John D. Pell collection. John Pell, Don Buck, Mas Oyama, Gosei Yamaguchi.

By the Mid-50s Don Buck was a Body Building champion and San Francisco Cop in addition to being a black belt in Moore’s Judo & JJ.   Buck & Moore started studying Shorinji Ryu Karate with one of Duke’s teachers, Richard Kim.  One of Kim’s Korean student’s came to the US to work as a Pro Wrestler.  Of course I’m talking about Mas Oyama.

BTW, Mas Oyama’s Karate and Masahiko- Gracie JJ Defeater- Kimura Judo workout partners in the Early 1950’s were Tak Kubota and Taiji Kase!  In fact the gnarled hand on one of Mas Oyama’s early books- ghost written by Don Draeger- was actually Kubota’s.

After WWII Kimura worked as a Pro Wrestler in Europe and N&S America.  He hooked Mas Oyama up with some wrestling promoters here in the US and Mexico so Oyama could make some money.

Mas Oyama set his US base up in San Francisco where he could continue his training with his Sensei Richard Kim.  While not wrestling Oyama lived with Kim’s JJ student Duke Moore and taught/worked out with Duke Moore and Don Buck everyday he was in San Francisco for 4-6 hour workouts.

After a little over a year Mas went back to Japan and promoted both Duke Moore and Don Buck to their Shodan ranks.  Buck opened his own Dojo in 1957 where he only taught Kyokushin Karate making his Dojo the first Oyama Style Karate Dojo to open in the US.  ***Please note that Bobby Lowe has the distinction of opening the first Kyokushin dojo OUTSIDE of Japan.***

kang duk won break

Mas Oyama breaking bricks.

When Don Buck opened his Dojo doors in 1957 one of his first students, and Black Belts, was one Robert Babich. A year of two later Richard Kim had a skinny Korean Black belt fresh off the boat from Korea show up at his San Francisco Dojo.  As Kim was about to leave for Japan so he sent the young Korean to his student’s, Duke Moore, Budokan dojo where Moore promptly sent the Korean to Don Buck.

The young Korean didn’t speak much English but Don Buck told him to go change into his Dogi.  When the Korean returned Buck noticed a patch with a fist on the Korean’s uniform.  Don Buck asked what the patch said and young Korean replied something like, “Kang Duk Won Kwon Bup Kong Soo Do.”

After sparring and defeating Buck’s students he squared off with Buck himself.  Buck knocked the Korean down a few times but the Korean kept getting up and he finally knocked the much bigger and stronger Buck across the dojo floor and down.  Buck got back up smiling and told the Korean, “Your hired! What is your name?”  The young Kang Duk Won fighter said, “Norman Rha” and bowed slightly to Buck!

Buck was opening a couple of new Dojo locations and he hired Rha (Rha Jong-nam) and assigned Robert Babich to assist Rha with running the new Dojo.

However, the soft whip-like Tong Bei style punching and much deeper Chaun Fa stances of Rha’s Kang Duk Won Kong Soo Do were so much different than Oyama’s power punching that sometime after Babich earned his Shodan from Don Buck it was decided that Babich should open just his own dojo with Rha so as not to create differences of style with the Kyokushin students.  So they left Don Buck’s American Kyokushin Dojo’s to open their own KDW school.

As Rha was a poor Medical School student he and Babich shared an apartment with the agreement that Rha would teach Babich KDW in return for help learning English.  It should be noted that anytime in the 60’s and early 70’s Babich promoted students to Black Belt the Tracy Brother’s would try to hire the new KDW black belts to run one of their Tracy Brother’s Chinese Kenpo Schools.

The Tracy’s only hired the BEST fighters, both as teachers and Association School Coaches (Joe Lewis & Al Dacascos for example),  as school challenges were common and they didn’t want to loose their schools students, $$$, to another challenging school.  Babich’s KDW academy in San Jose, CA had a reputation of turning out some of the toughest fighters on the West Coast.

It is interesting to note, at least for me,  that Babich didn’t include Sanchin or Tensho in his Kwon Bop Karate that he taught in the 1970’s and 80’s until he closed down his San Jose Dojo.  Why I don’t know???


Thanks, BJ, for this wonderful bit of writing.

The reason Bob didn’t include Sanchin and Tensho, in my opinion, is that there are two styles of Karate, one fixed and one fluid, or Shorin and Shorei. Bob was not a large man, he was thin and whiplike, and the heavier sanchin style stances didn’t suit him, perhaps even worked against the fluid motions he was developing through the Kang Duk Won.

If you want to find out what the truth behind the Kang Duk Won, check out the first Karate form and applications, and the bonus material on historical uses of Karate.

This has been a page about Don Buck, Mas Oyama, and the early beginnings of the Kang Duk Won Karate.

The Best Martial Arts Workout!

The Most Important Thing in a Martial Art Workout

Good morning!
And…good work out.

Do you know what makes a work out good?
When it is focused on making you more aware.

The body is important,
the muscles, the reflexes,
speed and strength,
adaptability and creativity…
it is all important,
but that is only a ‘biofeedback system’ to your awareness.

The most important thing in the martial arts
is building awareness.

The way you build awareness is to look at your technique,
practice your technique,
until you know how it works so well
that you can make it work no matter what.
And it is your awareness that will make this happen.

the problem is when people start thinking
that their body is what is important.
That is when the martial art becomes a martial sport.
when people start thinking that beating up people is what is important.
That is when they stop improving themselves
and start ‘de-proving’ themselves.

Here’s the thing…
when you beat somebody up
you are trying to decrease their awareness.
It’s true.
So you are trying to make them stupid.
So do you like living in a world where everybody is stupid?
If you like living in a world where people beat each other up,
then you do.
And you are then caught in a trap,
a monkey cage,
a vicious cycle,
even life after life.

if you do martial arts
so that you look at your body in such a way,
that you learn,
that you get smarter,
then you like to live in a world that is getting smarter.

It’s a pretty strict dividing line,
you know?
You either want to get smarter…
or stupider.
You either want to help the world…
or hurt it.
You either want to do martial sports,
or you want to do martial arts.

Mind you,
I don’t look down on martial sports,
for that is where the people who want to get smarter come from.
That is where the people will suddenly get wiser,
realize that beating people up is a dead end,
and become martial artists.

But the actual fact of the matter is this…
there are three distinct levels of humanity here.

There are the animals in the jungle.
These are people who are like monkeys,
who chatter a lot,
act smart,
but are basically asleep.
They live in a cruel world,
and bounce around between people who tell them what to do,
manipulate them,
and so on.
These are the people who have no discipline,
no route to self awareness,
and who are your basic mankind.
They live,
they walk and talk,
they do clever tricks like work,
but they are not aware of who they are.

Then there are the humans,
the people who know martial techniques,
but not the compassion.
They fight for nationalism,
or become bouncers,
and they beat people up
while constantly telling themselves that they are right,
but it is only for a belief,
or a paycheck,
or some other temporary thing.
These people have a discipline,
a route to self awareness,
but they abuse it.
They know there is a logic and a compassion,
but they refuse it.
But at least they are on the doorstep to self awareness.

Then there are martial artists,
who strive to improve themselves and others.
instead of becoming bouncers and beaters,
become teachers.
These people are human beings of the highest caliber.
They help instead of hurt.
They share knowledge and discipline,
they build the road to self awareness.
They have logic,
but more…
they have intuition.
They live in a different world,
a world of impulse that is correct,
they listen to the voice in their head,
until they become that voice in their head.
They build a world that is evolving
towards a higher humanity.

I am not being cruel here,
I am not just assigning labels to separate or make elitists,
I am trying to help you understand
exactly where you are.

A monkey.
A human being.
Or a martial artist.
Which are you?

Are you asleep?
Are you awake but stunted in your growth?
Are you awake and trying to help everybody else wake up?

Here’s the thing…
you can kill a body,
but you can’t kill awareness.
Awareness is what travels from body to body,
looking through the eyes and ears,
having fun on planet earth.
Or having misery…and calling it fun.

But to the degree that you support a planet asleep,
where awareness thinks it is asleep,
to that degree are you unaware.
No man is an island,
we are all in the same boat.

one method for waking up is the martial arts.
It is a discipline that trains you to look,
to be aware,
to wake up.

Haven’t you noticed that people who do the martial arts are more aware?
Understand things better?
Easier to get along with?

And haven’t you noticed that the longer you do martial arts
the easier life becomes?

So why not go all the way?
Why not become an awareness that is intuitive,
who helps others become better,
who wakes people up…
instead of putting them to sleep.

Why not see if there really is a superior way of learning with Matrixing?
Why not see if there is a discipline that is more logical
than anything you have ever seen?
Why not find out if you can learn martial arts,
a LOT of martial arts,
faster than man has ever learned it before?
Why not?

I can only talk,
I can only explain,
whether you take the next step is up to you.
But the first four courses of Matrixing are:
Matrix Karate
Matrix Kung Fu
Matrix Aikido
The Master Instructor Course.

These four courses provide the basic graphs of matrixing.

On Matrix Karate you learn the basic geometry of the body,
not random tricks,
but a logical method for assigning function to the body
and its parts.
Never been done before.

On Matrix Kung Fu you learn the basic physics
of how to take down a body.
Oh, you’ll have seen some of these techniques,
but probably not all,
and certainly not in the correct and logical order.

On Matrix Aikido you learn how to think conceptually,
how to make a grab art out of anything,
you do Matrix Aikido
and you will suddenly be finding the techniques of Monkey Boxing.
For the first time…
a system where everything fits together in the right way,
even though there are different martial arts being used.

the Master Instructor Course,
the pure logic of how to use the human body.
And here is the funny thing,
or perhaps I should say the tragic thing.
I have sold maybe a thousand of these courses,
and most of the people who purchased
had decades of experience
in a variety of arts,
yet they had never seen this material.
if they had,
they hadn’t seen all of it,
and certainly not as it is presented here…as a strict and orderly science.
Not as a logic that pushes one to the complete understanding of the human body,
and increases awareness.

There you go,
four courses that will change you,
will change your martial arts.
I suggest starting on Matrix Karate,
but whichever you do is fine with me.
Because whatever you do,
it is a first step into the true martial arts.

Oinkey donkey!
I will be returning home next week,
hopefully will be sitting behind my own computer by the end of the weekend.
I will then go through the mail again,
and take care of those problems that I haven’t been able to handle while on the road.
Thanks for being patient.

remember this URL

and I will talk to you later!
Have a great work out!

Learning Martial Arts Straight from the Animals in New Mexico


And…work out!
There is no greater gift one can give oneself,
than just working out.
Becoming pure through sweat,
divesting oneself of distraction
and finding the purity of the self.

Beyond what the world expects.

We were driving up this long, long road
to a place to pitch a tent for the night.
As we drove I noticed that the road was littered with rocks.
Little chunks that looked like sparkly granite,
maybe half the size of baseballs.
I veered this way and that
attempting to miss the rocks,
but knew I wasn’t successful.
Yet there was no sensation of tire over rock.
There should have been a hundred, little bumps,
things rolling under the car,
bouncing up against the undercarriage,
there was nothing.

How curious!

So I slowed down,
rolled down the window
and peered down at the rocks on the road.
BIG…and beautiful grasshoppers!
Their acutely folded legs moved,
and they leaped,
like as not,
I squashed them with my Firestones.

So I slowed,
drove more slowly,
and navigated the road filled with giant grasshoppers.

At the tent site there were only the occassional insect,
and I found one and squatted down to watch it,
to matrix it.
Colors to match the sparkle of dew,
perhaps to draw in smaller insects for a meal.
And there weren’t any larger insects,
so no fear there.
And if a bird,
or other beast came to feast upon it,
it jumped.
The quickness of the jump was savage,
an attack in flight.
the sagacity of the insect,
it landed in twist,
so that it literally bounced off its rump
and faced the way it had come.

of course.
To flee again…in attack.

Is that good martial arts…or what?
I mean,
positively brilliant!

And what was the alternative?
To land facing away,
and to become a target in flight?

better to flee as if in fight.
Surprise the foe with savage thrust,
yet always end up facing,
towards not away
ready to flight again.

Fight or flight,
flight and fight,
a marvelous yin yang of martial arts survival
and something that most people just roll over,
or swat away,
or laugh at.

in mass,
grasshoppers are one of nature’s most ferocious armies.

I was brought to think of the book by McMurtry,
‘Lonesome Dove.’
During a cattledrive the cowboys are overwhelmed by grasshoppers,
so they catch bagfuls of the critters,
dip them in molasses
and fry them.


Cowboy treat!

And even the hardiest,
most savage warrior
become naught but food
for those who can overcome their fear.

in the midst of scorpions and tarantulas,
giant grasshoppers and other denizens of the enchanted land,
I pitched tent and had dinner.

It wasn’t a mess of fried grasshoppers.

Every place I go I see contest and battle,
creatures struggling for survival.
it is only man that has a chance.
Only man has the ability to overcome himself.
To fight or flight and land so that he faces the true enemy…himself.
His cruelties and tortures,
his naked desires and covetness.
His desire to worship warped gods and think that
it is God that made him right.

And it is only by divesting ourselves of these cruelties and nightmares
that we can ascend to the truth of ourselves.

And it is only through landing in the correct manner so that we don’t fight ourselves,
but face ourselves,
that we will succeed.

Martial Arts creates this path.
Martial arts is where we learn to fight
so that we never have to fight.
This is a truth that we must take to ourselves,
and faster than we have ever done before.

And that is the message from the enchanted land of New Mexico,
the message I received just because I drove down a road
and didn’t want to kill
some of the most beautiful grasshoppers you have ever seen.

My apologies to those who wait an email,
or a fix on an order.
Everything is working,
but there are are a couple of things I just can’t do
until I get back to my computer.

I am able to connect to the net every day,
so if anybody wants to tell me off,
or wish me well
I can handle that.

take advantage of the
I haven’t been able to raise prices
because of being on the road,
temporary reprieve,
but prices are going up.

if you want to learn how to fight like an animal,
if you want to learn the wisdom of nature,
you can start with the Shaolin Butterfly.
The animals covered in that include
the snake,
the dragon,
the crane,
the tiger,
the mantis,
and more…
here’s the URL…

Have a great work out!

Don’t forget to subscribe to this newsletter at

The Arizona Spiritual Martial Art Workout!

Have a great work out from Texas!

Got here last night,

and immediately did a workout!

The only way to survive the insanity of traveling!



I was in Arizona the other night,

and a couple of interesting things to note.

Upper Arizona is beautiful,

trees all over the place,

lots of wildlife.


Really gives a lie to anybody who says

we are running out of things.


there is so much space,

so much lumber,

so much wildlife…

there is no shortage in this world,

just crooked politicos who try to frighten you

by saying there is!


But enough ranting,

let’s move on to the good stuff,

let’s move on to that unique universe

of doing the martial arts in Arizona.


Lower Arizona is dry and dusty.

Wind blowing everywhere.

At first,

I was discouraged.


sitting up late at night,

listening to the desert,

I felt it…



do you know how it feels

when you cram a bunch of people in a room?

100 people in a 20 by 20 room?

People knocking elbows,

bumping into each other,

sooner or late…

there’s going to be a fight.



multiply that by ten thousand,

and you have a city.

People packed together like sardines,

not enough room,

everybody getting cranky!


So I’m sitting in the middle of the Arizona deseert

and there’s no people,

and I could feel the deep, deep spirituality.

The space.

The vastness.


The clouds overhead were surging with life.

I could feel elemental forces moving across the deseert floor.

And then there was me,

a mote,

a speck,

audience to this vast moving play,

this magnificent display of earth and element.


It was spiritual.




I began doing my forms,

and I couldn’t stop!

Elements were moving me,

forces were shoving my punches,

nibbling at my stances,

making me feel ENERGY!


It was massive.



of course,

I had a realization.

In truth,

I have realized this before,

but from different perspective,

which made it all the newer and more potent to me.


When you are starting out

it is good to be in a dojo,

to feel the bodies,

to interact with other martial artists.


as time goes on,

you need space.

You are the center of the universe,

you need to look out,

to feel the massive space within which you sit.



your physical body is part of you,

but the real you is as far as you can see,

as far as you can imagine!

And that is space.

That is the true empty in empty hands.

That is the truth of you that is just waiting for you to…wake up to it!


Sitting in Arizona,

unable to stop doing forms,

I was in the middle of that realization.

Absolutely spectacular.



it goes without saying,

I could see myself,

I could imagine myself,

doing my forms on top of Mt. Nipomo.


120 acres,

nearest neighbor four miles away.

Exuding the essence of me through the discipline of the martial arts.




All the best of modern society,

but isolated,


with sufficient space

to truly delve into the martial arts.



that in mind,

when you do Tai Chi

the image is often of doing it on top of a mountain.


Horzons beyond horizons.

Able to see everything.



One of the most impressive images I have ever encountereed

was a cheap wookd block carving.

It was a viewpoint of a mountain range…

from above.


But how could the guy get above to see that?

How could he see a yin yang in a mountain range as if from hundreds of miles up?


By being alone,

by doing the martial arts,

and getting so much discipline

that he was a pooint of awareness

outside of his body

high in the stratosphere.



that was the train of my thought,

and how it related to martial arts

and to monkeyland,

and all sorts of things,

as I stood in the desert

and did forms…

and couldn’t stop.



here’s the Tai Chi URL,


in case you want to get started on being alone,

creating space,

finding the purest,


most elemental level of martial arts you can.


Mind you,

don’t give up that hard stuff,

or partners,

or the blessings of living in community of city,

and don’t give up your karate forms…


do your martial arts at night,



creating massive space.


Becoming aware of yor true body,

of the true extent of your awareness…

your imagination.


Take a hike,

find a mountain top,

exude yourself,

see if you can discipline yourself to greater and greater awareness.


Have a great workout,

and I’ll tell you about New Mexico Martial Arts Soirituality next time!






Martial Arts Power!

Newsletter 616

Putting Power in your Martial Art

Good morning, afternoon, or whatever!
No matter what time it is,
it is time for a workout!

let’s talk about putting power in your martial arts… Continue reading

Best Internet Karate Course in the World

The Best Internet Karate Course Works Like a Charm!

internet karate courseWins are pouring in on the Best Internet Karate Course in the World, and you can see them on the right side of the page at Here’s one…

Hi sensei?, I love it, hone it day by day. I am reading all the manuals you gave me…its fascinating, all the bonus stuff. I’ve learned more in a minute from watching and reading (you) than in whole live classes, seriously. You really changed my mind about Karate, that’s most unusual. Thru your system and instruction it takes now about 1-3 days to understand and memorize a kata, deeply ingrained. That’s high speed! I see the light…?Will Continue reading

The Problem with Martial Arts Teachers

Martial Arts Teachers Problems…

martial arts teacher


This article, the problem with Martial Arts Teachers, is not meant to be an attack, rather an enlightenment. Consider the points I make, then consider yourself as an instructor, see if you are a True Martial Arts Teachers, or…something else. Continue reading

How to Find the Best Online Martial Arts Instruction

What to Look For in Online Matial Arts Instruction

For part one of this article, go to How to Teach Yourself Martial Arts.

When looking for the best online martial arts instruction you need to assess three things.

First, does the online martial arts course offer good and comprehensive training manuals. Well written instruction manuals are going to be extremely important. Written material is going to help you understand the concepts involved, and give you good reasons as to why you are doing something.

online martial arts

Second, does the online martial arts course have cleanly filmed and understandable videos? A good example of what the written material is talking about is priceless.

Third, does the online martial arts course give you lots of back up by email or other methods. This is crucial, because there are going to be questions. Many questions. About the material, and about your personal progress. So, look around and see if you can contact the instructor, either through comments on his website, or, better, through email. Try an email. Ask a simple question, see if he responds fairly fast, see if he makes sense. If he does, then his might be the martial arts courses you want to take.

Now, something very important to consider. Can the instructor get you to understand what he is saying.

The thing is, the martial arts concept is going to have to travel from his head to your head, and through a variety of written and filmed methods. So you should get a sample of his teachings.

First, check out his blog or site, and see if he is understandable. If you can’t figure out what he is saying, move along.

Second, see if you can find some examples of his video work. Check out youtube. As for myself, I have a few videos on youtube, and I also have a few videos on Karate basics on one of my websites, Simply go there, find the section in the menu that says ‘Free Karate Lessons,’ and start checking it out.

The things to ask yourself in this example of my karate videos is this: Have I moved so you can understand how to do the motions? Have I explained so you can understand why I am doing the motions? Are my instructions clean and neat? Can you actually do what I am showing?

If the answer is yes to the above, then I’ve done a good job, and you can consider me.

If not, then pass on me.

Okay, you’re ready to go out and check the net and see what kind of stuff is out there.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you to check out my own website,

How to Teach Yourself Martial Arts

What You Need to Teach Yourself Martial Arts

There are three things you need if you are going to teach yourself Martial Arts, and a couple of secondary things you should know.

The three main things you need to teach yourself Martial Arts is a good Martial Art, a good teacher, and a good student.

how to teach yourself martial arts

We can assume that you are going to be a good student, set aside time every day, and stick to the program you come up with. In this case, if you are a good student, then you are a good teacher.

So we have to select a high grade martial art, and here is where we come into the secondary considerations you should think about when undertaking how to teach yourself Martial Arts.

To teach yourself Martial Arts you have to ask yourself why you want to learn.

Do you want to be strong and flexible? Excellent. Do you want to be tough? Not so good. Do you want to bully people? Uh oh.

The best martial Art to teach yourself, to be honest, is probably Karate.

If you want to learn Aikido you need a partner all the time.

If you want to learn Kung Fu there’s too much mysticism, meaningless chi exercises, abstract concepts that you might actually need a teacher to help you with.

Some arts are unbalanced. Taekwondo, for example, has too many kicks, and doesn’t give enough weight to punches and throws. Jujitsu has too many throws and not enough punches and kicks.

Mixed Martial Arts isn’t bad, but most MMA fighters got their start by learning a classical martial art first.

Karate, on the other hand, is based around self defense, so their isn’t a bunch of mystical concepts to mess up your mind.

And, it is well rounded, with a balance of throws, kicks, and punches.

Having selected the type of Karate you wish to learn, you now have to find the best courses and information in order to teach yourself Martial Arts.

Serious about learning How to Teach yourself Martial Arts? Check out

For part two of this article, go to How to Find the Best Online Martial Arts Instruction at

Martial Arts Influences on the Kang Duk Won

What are the Martial Arts Influences on the Kang Duk Won

kang duk wonThere are extraneous martial arts influences on every art, and the Kang Duk Won is no different.

Sometimes the martial arts influences can be bad, sometimes good. In the case of the Kang Duk Won  Continue reading