An Interview with Ashida Kim
Ashida Kim is a leader in the Black Dragon Fighting Society, founder of Dojo Press, and author of over thirty ninja instruction books. He also may be a man named Chris Hunter living in Lake Alfred, Florida. In certain circles, this is seen as a problem; certain corners of the Internet are devoted to fierce debates over his actual identity and martial arts credentials. Frank Dux, who claims to have taught Jean-Claude Van Damme the kuji kiri, writes, “Ashida Kim is considered a renegade and a threat.” Others call him a fake and a charlatan. I, for one, am not even sure what the kuji kiri is.
But the titles speak for themselves: Secrets of the Ninja. Hands of Death. Forbidden Fighting Techniques. Secrets of the Jade Bedroom. Ninja Way of the Spider. Could I list a few more? Deadly Grip of the Ninja. Cloak of Invisibility. Dancing Ninja Masters. X-Rated Dragon Lady. Infiltration and Assassination Techniques. These are books that demand to be read.
I should also mention that the aforementioned Ninja Way of the Spider includes instructions for the Spider Sting Delayed Death Touch. I should also mention that X-Rated Dragon Lady will teach you how to turn having your clothes ripped off into an advantage, but is only available to those eighteen and over. I should also mention that several of these publications are also available as videos and/or e-books.
This interview was conducted over the telephone. It was a Thursday morning, and the sparrows chirped outside my kitchen window, hopping about in their bird world that knew nothing of ninjas. A happier world? Or somehow emptier?
I pondered these questions as I waited for the phone to ring. (Mr. Kim had asked to call me; the true ninja does not own a phone, or at least doesn’t give out his number carelessly.)
THE BELIEVER: You’ve been trying to set up your own ninja temple, right?
ASHIDA KIM: We’re trying to set up a permanent temple. We’re trying to get something done with that. We had a guy down in Australia who was going to set us up with some land and then the war came along, and that’s been holding us up ever since.
In the final analysis, it’s the idea of the thiry-sixth Chamber: in the Shaolin Temple there were thirty-five rooms that you trained in and then, when you graduated, you went out into the world and the world was the thirty-sixth Chamber. In that sense, the whole world is your temple and also your body is your temple. It’s a symbolic temple, at the very least. If you see it from that point of view, then you don’t really need a building. But we just want a place where we can set up an obstacle course and play war games and stuff.
BLVR: What kind of missions did you go on before you settled on writing and teaching?
AK: There were a couple times when I worked for the government training indigenous personnel. Then they started trying to stiff me on the money. This is the thing: CIA guys are people who say they’re in the CIA. To them, everyone is expendable except themselves. They don’t care if you get killed. They give you a message that they want the enemy to have and they let you get captured and tortured and killed, just so the enemy has this phony message. If they can stiff you on the money they will. They’re just like any corporation in that sense.
BLVR: What about the experiences that led to your book The Amorous Adventures of Ashida Kim?
AK: The Black Dragon Fighting Society had a club up in Maine that we sanctioned as a karate school and we sent a couple of people up there for seminars. They all came back with really bad reports about this place. And so I went up there to check it out, and essentially it was actually a kind of sadistic whorehouse being run under the guise of a karate school. So for instance the girl students, and they were mostly girls, they would be assigned to be the bodyguards for these mysterious guest instructors whose names were never given. And these girls would be assigned to protect them…against who? I mean, hell, they’re in a karate school. Who are they going to protect them against? But anyway that was part of the scheme. And then, of course, during the course of the evening, these girls would go out to the bar and get laid. And there was a lot of unnecessary brutality and things like that in the school, in the teaching of the various techniques and whatnot.
So I wanted to shut it down, but a bunch of people told me, “You can’t shut it down—once you’re in, you’re in, and you don’t get thrown out, no matter what you do. There’s a lot of people that have done lots worse than this and are still considered to be members of the club.” But I told them, “Hey look, I sanctioned this guy. And this guy is running this whorehouse. He’s brutalizing these people. I’m not going to tolerate that.”
These guys felt like I was not seeing the situation clearly, so they sent me over to South Africa to work in a whorehouse to see it a little bit more clearly.
BLVR: To understand it from the inside?
AK: Exactly. The thing is, what we were doing there was actually helping a lot of people, because at the time there was a lot of turmoil in South Africa. There weren’t any jobs, and a lot of these girls would have starved to death if we hadn’t given them a place to work. And we didn’t let anybody take advantage of them. And the people who did try to take advantage of them, we had a good time sorting out.
So, like I said, we had a beneficial operation down there, even if it wasn’t necessarily a kosher operation. And I got to meet a bunch of people and train in some interesting stuff down there. I met a guy who was an Indian and he had some interesting techniques.
BLVR: In addition to The Amorous Adventures, you’ve written about thirty other books. Is there one you’re most proud of?
AK: Ninja Mind Control is probably one of the best ones, because it’s about teaching people to be self-empowered, and that’s a lot of what this is all about.
BLVR: That one has more relevance for the common person?
AK: It’s more important for people to learn how to relax than it is for them to learn how to sneak up on their enemies and whack them. And in learning how to sneak up on your enemies, learning how to relax is one of the first things you have to do anyway. A good thing to be sharing with people are these techniques of how to heal themselves, and how to find peace and serenity in this world of chaos.
BLVR: So you feel these books are educating people on how to live, not just how to be a ninja?
AK: The idea of all of them is essentially being in harmony with nature and being in harmony with the flow of what’s going on, instead of trying to make things happen. Instead of making a wave to swamp the boat, just make a ripple and let the ripple have an effect over a long period of time. The idea of it is to use a small amount of force, if any at all, to maintain or establish or restore a good working order.
BLVR: Is it hard to balance this goodwill and harmony with the realities of the ninja profession, with all the secrecy and violence?
AK: You can do all those things easily. You can sneak into the compound, make your way into the king’s chamber and have a chat with him in the middle of the night and make him think it’s all a dream, and slip back out without being seen—if you’re in harmony with nature. A lot of people think I spend a lot of time practicing the cross step and sneaking around and throwing all these weapons, but actually there’s very little of that. Most of these things can be learned fairly quickly. Then it’s just a question of where to employ these things.
Sometimes when I go hunting I use techniques of walking silently and staying downwind. When I’m in public I use techniques of slipping through the crowd so I don’t get held up by a bunch of meaningless people. It’s a matter of being able to move in harmony through the chaos, more than a matter of practicing how to sneak up on people. Once you learn the technique it’s not that hard—you just need the will to carry it out.
BLVR: What are you working on now?
AK: I’m always working on a couple of books. The last one I did was a ninja first-aid book, which was essentially how to wake them up after you choke them out. It’s kind of like with the Dragon Lady books. I thought the Dragon Lady books were going to be a real hot seller and they just never have been. It’s the same thing with this first-aid book.
I like putting these little books together, because it’s like a crossword puzzle. It keeps me entertained. And then, when you send them out there, they’re like messages in a bottle. You never know who gets them or who sees them or what kind of effect they’re going to have on somebody. I get a few people that question my credentials, I get a few people that challenge me, and I get an equal number of people that write in and say, “You know, I read your book and it really hit a chord with me. I really learned something out of it.”
BLVR: Do a lot of people read the books and then ask you to send them on a mission?
AK: Yeah. The way we usually handle that is we fall back on “You give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but you teach him to fish, he feeds himself.” What we’re essentially doing is we’re giving you the tools so you can defend yourself and then anything else you want to do, that’s up to you.
A real spy knows how to make his own money—he takes care of himself. James Bond epitomizes this. The guy supports his whole operation by gambling, if you really look at it. Even though he’s given all these toys to play with by the British government, his own personal money comes essentially from gambling. And this is the way it is with people in the Black Dragon Fighting Society. It’s not a matter of “Okay, now you’re on the payroll.” It’s a matter of “Okay, now you know how to hurt people, go out and start a payroll.” If you’re a spy, you’re on your own.
BLVR: Could you tell me about the Black Dragon Fighting Society and how you became involved?
AK: The Black Dragon Fighting Society in the United States was founded by Count Dante in the Sixties. I ran into him in ’68 in Chicago, when I was up there playing around at the Democratic Convention, thinking I was going to change the world.
BLVR: I’ve read about Count Dante—he seems like an interesting man.
AK: I didn’t really like him. He wasn’t a really nice guy. But that was okay, because what he knew was really good. I wanted to learn his system, not be his buddy.
BLVR: And at the same time he was a hairdresser, right?
AK: Yeah. He owned a wig company. According to his book he invented the Playboy Bunny hairstyle. And maybe he did. To me, it wasn’t incongruous that he would be a hairstylist and also a martial artist. It is like the samurai, who is super with the sword and also does flower arranging. So to me it made perfect sense. Besides, it’s a good way to meet girls.
BLVR: What does the society do?
AK: Essentially it was his karate club. In China there is a Black Dragon Fighting Society, before than it was called the Black Dragon Tong of Retribution, before that it was called several other things. Six thousand years ago it was called the Polestar School. The purpose was to preserve knowledge. My theory is they were preserving knowledge from civilizations from time of Atlantis. I think there have been lots of civilizations we don’t remember because of these Planetary cataclysms, but that’s a whole astrological theory. Be that as it may, back then the polestar was Sigma Draconis and that was in the dragon constellation. Since then the polestar has drifted, and now it’s Polaris, which is 15 degrees off from the actual geographic pole. That’s why the planet wobbles. The planet wobbles and every 43,000 years the poles shift and we have a cataclysm. Anyway, they got the name “Black Dragon” because the dragon star was once the polestar, but now it was hidden and so it was black.
Being in the Black Dragon Fighting Society is not like being in the army, where you go to the office everyday and sit around and have a training schedule, which is what most people think it is. And maybe it will be like that one day.
BLVR: Some people seem very concerned about whether you are authentic. Do you have to deal with a lot of that?
AK: Oh, yeah. Quite a bit. There’s always a bunch of people that can find something to argue about. All criticism is jealousy, basically. Guys who scream and yell because they’ve never seen me fight—well, that’s because they never bought the tape. One of my fights is on tape and it looks pretty good. It was a draw, because it was an exhibition, but, you know, it looks pretty good. But they don’t want to see it, because they don’t want to believe that I can do anything. They’ve already got their minds made up.
The reason I got into ninjitsu was because I started off looking for invisibility. My ambition was invisibility—the idea that the enemy can’t hit you if he can’t see you, and the enemy can’t hit you if you’re not there. This is the most non-violent martial art in the world, because the first principle of it is: Never take a hit. Don’t be there, if you can help it. And if you are there, get out of the way. Don’t block nothing. Don’t parry nothing. You know, don’t deflect anything. Just get out of the way.
It’s not really for everybody. Some people like to fight and you have to let them if they want to. It’s a stage they’re going through. These people that think they’re tough because they’re in the U.F.C. [Ultimate Fighting Challenge] and stuff like that, that’s okay. When they’re all crippled up from having their fingers broken and their legs twisted years from now, they’ll look back and think, “Gee, I wasn’t so bright after all.” It’s like breaking bricks with your bare hands. You can do it, but you also have to practice the Needle Finger, because if you break enough bricks, your index finger will get stiff. Then you’ll have another weapon. It’ll get arthritic and be stiff as a board, like a pencil, and you can poke holes in things.
Everything is balanced out and the question is, Do you want to sacrifice your hand for the ability to impress somebody who’s not going to be impressed no matter how many bricks you break?
BLVR: And these people led you to declare the $10,000 Challenge?
AK: It’s basically my response, which is if they want to fight me, they have to pay me and the purse is $10,000 and then they also have to pay all of my expenses for me to come there. And it has to be in public, because if I go into some alley and beat this guy up, he can still go back to his school and say, “Hey, I whipped the boy’s butt.” It stops a lot of these idiots who just want to punch somebody out to prove how tough they are.
One time when I had a karate school, a guy came in who wanted to fight to prove how tough he was. He was a big guy, so I told him, “Hey, look, if you beat me, it’s just gonna be a big guy beating up on a little guy, but if I beat you, you’re gonna be embarrassed and you’re gonna look pretty stupid. Now which way do you want it to be? Do you want to be buds and have a beer or do you want to act like an ass?” And the guy decided he’d rather have a beer.
This is one of these non-violent ways of overcoming these people, with enlightened self-interest. Every once in a while people get pumped up on steroids or just the exercises themselves, too much testosterone in their system, and they feel like they’ve got to go out and punch somebody to prove how bad they are. It’s just a stage. Every time I felt that way, somebody slapped the crap out of me. After a while I realized I wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought I was. But when I get pissed, I’m pretty bad.