The Search for Count Dante continues. People have been writing to ask the status of things, am I continuing with the film, have I been kidnapped by ninjas, attacked by the Black Dragon Fighting Society or any of their secret society associates?
I have interviewed countless Chicagoans who were present and active in martial arts during the early sixties. and Life intercedes when it wants to in the midst of our endeavors. Films get made by sheer determination, not just because it is a good idea.
"Independent film makin' ain't easy, but somebody gots to do it." I won't bore you with the details except to say, this is a journey that is not over yet. I do need to clarify some things right off the bat. It has been a long haul making this film; the characters I have had to deal with have gone from bad to worse.
I have been insulted by Ashida Kim, the most notorius Ninja on the internet, highly insulted to the point that I made it clear I was not accepting this kind of behavior, even from a 65 year old Ninja. It 's like we are all back in high school. We had some exchanges on Facebook, Kim and another Black Dragon member who tended to be very disrespectful in that "I am going to kick your ass over the internet" so many flamers use going bacj to the days of old school bulletin boards. They have even told people I was now in bed with Green Dragon Society becae i don't want to hang out with the Black Dragons and tell the story they WANT me to tell. WTF? We are back in high school!!!
This nonsense killed my appetite for any contact with these guys. especially after 3 years of Fall River Black Dragon crap in Boston Federal Court, I won. Controversy of every sort has surrounded this film from the very beginning. still I persevere. Why? It is a story I want to tellIt rises above John Keehan/Count Dante's meteoric moment and explores the social history of martial arts, race relations, Chicago's history and legacy as a well spring of Mixed Martial Arts in the early 1900s.
All I want to do is finish this film, not become part of some late middle-aged martial artists angst and drama. Rank and notoriety seems to be what drives some people, while Dante eschewed the vagaries of rank as a useless indicator of fighting skills. It gives me pause.
First of all, Sensei Doug Dwyer, a close associate of John Keehan once upon a time, wants it known he was never a member of the Black Dragon Fighting Society. He worked with Keehan from the early to mid-1960s and helped him start the World Karate Federation. He broke with Keehan when he became Count Dante and tended to his own school.
He has made it known that he wants his name removed from all materials online regarding the Black Dragon Fighting Society. It is a small thing to ask. In the making of my film I inadvertently and maybe foolishly connected a lot of people together.
People would find out who I had interviewed and asked for contacts. I seldom share my resources without the permission of the party involved. I connected Doug to people who are not so gracious with other people’s personal information. For that I am sorry. Lesson learned.
Douglas Dwyer is a consummate and complete traditional martial artist of a caliber seldom seen today. He is a jocular man of good spirits, and this kindness is often misinterpreted and that is a shame. Playing him for the fool is not a good idea. Doug has been a good friend and advisor to me. He was there in the 1960s martial arts world and has the pictures, books, photos and documentation to back it up. His life has been dedicated to the ART in marital arts, and at his youthfully mature age, he can still make ya sit up and listen.
I have had quite a few people come to me with stories about Dante and when we get in front of the camera, the false claims go away. It seems they realize that this becomes a permanent record of their words for the entire world to see and refute.
My blog has been dredged to make up a history of the Black Dragon Fighting Society that includes someone named Senzo Tanaka and Frank Dux. Dux has acquired stories from my blog and from stories he has heard only to re-spin them to include himself as an active participant and student of John Keehan, when in fact he would have been 10 years old in Chicago.
Senzo Tiger Tanaka was a character in the James Bond film, You Only Live twice. In none of his earlier writings has Dux mentioned Count Dante or the Black Dragon Fighting Society, why now? I raise these questions because Dux has used the internet to include himself in a history he clearly was not part of. My research is online and people who feel they can do with it as they will should get use to the fact if I see it "chock fulla lies" I will debunk how it is used as needed and take other actions deemed appropriate in a legal sense.
There has been no proven association between the Kokuryukai and The Black Dragon Fighting Society. There are anecdotes and inferences, but none proven as of yet. My research goes all the way to Japan on this where it is still hard to get people to talk about this secret society. I have attained good resources on the presence of the Kokuryukai in the US but no direct link. I will reveal some things about this in the film.
I have no opinion of Frank Dux as a martial artist, CIA operative, Kumite fighter, now most recently pioneer of MAA with a film dealetc, etc. It's a nice gig if you can sell it. What I do know is that his actions have been an affront. I challenge Frank Dux to come up with pictures showing he was here in Chicago at the age of 9 years or ten years old studying with Count Dante or credible witnesses who were students of John Keehan in the early to mid-1960s.
How Frank Dux could have been in Chicago long enough to claim to have studied with Count Dante and never mention it until 2008 seems a but incredulous. Maybe he was sworn to secrecy? There were a lot of Franks around, it is a common name. Dux is not so common a last name. Unless I am mistaken, by the mid-1960s Keehan/Dante did not teach students below black belt. So Dux's claims of being in any of Dante classes stretch his credibility.
As for him taking Count Dante's place in a death match because Dante died in 1975, well that strains the truth in all kinds of ways. Why did he not talk about this when he wrote the articles for Black Belt Magazine back in 1980? In all his writing and interviews, which have been far and in-between, he never mentioned Chicago or any association with John Keehan.
As you can probably tell, I am very skeptical about these claims of his. Maybe I am wrong. I have not met one old school martial artist here who has ever mentioned a Frank Dux presence in Chicago, and we DO love our martial arts folklore here. Dux, as far as I know, ain't in it. In the making of this film I have learned that many people are desperate to be part of this chaotic legacy, in truth or falsehood. It is not John Keehan they pine for as much as the legend of Count Dante, a very real and talented martial artist who fell a little too far into his comic book ad persona.
The late Joe Lewis and I talke several times and tried to arrange an interview. I found him to be an absolute gentleman. I found his number in my cellphone the other day, We never arranged to meet due to his constant travelling and mine. but here is a clip of him talking about Count Dante in a clip I got from a writer in London.
Count Dante: Hands Like A Woman -Kickstarter from Floyd Webb on Vimeo.
Oh yeah, we had a Kickstarter campaign that we did not win. We will do it again learning from MY past mistakes. Watch for it!