The Search For Count Dante
March 7, 2007 12:20 PM   Subscribe

The Search For Count Dante is a documentary-in-progress by filmmaker Floyd Webb (- Youtube trailer -). Webb takes on the daunting task of exploring the (larger than) life and times of martial artist Count Dante (born John Keehan), the then self-described "Deadliest Man Alive". Some of you may remember his ad from '60's and '70's comic books. [more inside]
posted by schleppo (29 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Among the milestones of the Count's short 36 years on earth: The Count's tell-tale life has influenced multiple cross-sections of pop culture. From musicians, participants in Incredibly Strange Wrestling, and comic book villains, the legacy of the "Count" is destined to become legend.
posted by schleppo at 12:27 PM on March 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

That "rival dojo" was three blocks away from my current apartment. Awesome.

Sounds like pretty much the coolest guy to have ever walked the face of the Earth (and the streets of Logan Square).
posted by hypocritical ross at 12:36 PM on March 7, 2007

I think I'd like to see this movie.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:59 PM on March 7, 2007

This is the greatest post ever.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:10 PM on March 7, 2007

I was SO going to do a post on Dante and the Karate Wars. I had all this great stuff prepared... but no. I thought the time was not right.

God damn you schleppo. GOD DAMN YOU TO HELL!!!

Though somewhat separate from the Dante phenomena the Karate Wars/Dojo Wars were frigg'n REAL in the late 1960's and 70's. People KILLED each other! Bombed and set arson to other dojos.

Dojo crashing was frigg'n real. It happened to school I was at when I was a kid. Dojo crashing was when guys - in crisp white frigg'n gi's - flood into the school trying to provoke a fight with your instructor. Crazy, crazy, shit.

Dante's mantle was taken up by many others since. Frank Dux of Bloodsport fame is one. He founded Dux Ryu "ninjitsu" and was really popular for a while. Until his health and sanity went south. I have gone to dinner several times with the guy. He is a funny charismatic guy. And a totally slick con man. I have highly enjoyable anecdotes if you want them.
posted by tkchrist at 1:40 PM on March 7, 2007

I know I want them. The more anecdotes the better.
posted by Divine_Wino at 1:56 PM on March 7, 2007

yeah the comic book ad clenched it - best post ever.
posted by vronsky at 2:09 PM on March 7, 2007

@Astro: Thanks!

@tkchrist: Sorry I pre-empted your strike in the realm of Dante, but it sounds like you have some other post-worthy items. Bring on the stories!
posted by schleppo at 2:09 PM on March 7, 2007

Many years ago when I was still doing Karate the school I went to found out there was a Dux seminar in Tacoma. I didn't know anything about the guy. Except for his name was associated with the movie Bloodsport. But I agreed to go. We get like 10 senior students to drive to Tacoma to this high school gymnasium. We pay $75 dollars each. We were expecting your typical martial arts workout kind of seminar. But it became immediately clear this was an audition. It was circus. Of little kids and stage mothers. Lines of made-up skanky girls with head-shots. See. Dux had put an ad in the paper for ACTORS.

There was nothing on the finer points of defense, or footwork or strategy. No. It was a fight choreography seminar. But it was billed as a Martial Arts Seminar. He made people think he was casting a movie. And they were paying for it.

It was how to "sell" a punch. How to "look" like you have been hit. and how to make it look like your "fighting multiple people AND MAKE IT LOOK REAL."

So was embarrassing. And for guys who did nothing but full contact sparring who had never DONE stunt fighting... um... well we were dropping people who wanted to be movie stars left and right.

But mostly we felt like idiots. Screaming and prancing around - being given lines of from his scripts and shit.

So Dux feel kind of bad, he says. He can see we are there for the "real deal." This strokes some of our guys. like - yeah - we're bad asses. This makes me feel highly suspicious. I just want craw away and forget the entire thing.

But no. Dux pitches my guys to host ANOTHER seminar this time at our school. It's his way of making it up to us. IF we can get like eighty people there. For $100 dollars each. Dux will take $80. A great deal he says.

These idiots agree to this. So we bust our asses selling his dumb seminar and this is HIM making it up to us?

Anyway. We host his seminar. Um.

Do you want me to go on? I mean I hate to shoot my wad like this. Because it gets way crazier. I'll wait to see it more people join the thread.
posted by tkchrist at 2:37 PM on March 7, 2007 [9 favorites]

oh, finish the goddamn story you big drama queen.
posted by GuyZero at 2:53 PM on March 7, 2007

more more more
posted by pantsrobot at 2:57 PM on March 7, 2007

Yeah. Finish the story. For real.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 3:01 PM on March 7, 2007

Oh, and great post.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 3:04 PM on March 7, 2007

tkchrist, you tease. Produce the crazy.
posted by lekvar at 3:08 PM on March 7, 2007

[inserts clever joke about Count Dante fighting Chuck Norris]

/realizes that Chuck Norris jokes aren't funny. Slinks off.
posted by quin at 3:50 PM on March 7, 2007

Ok. So about three months later... actually maybe longer i forget now. I do remember that he kept canceling and we had to re-set the date a couple of times. This should have been a warning sign.

So we get all these people into our school. A student made these hyped out posters "See the Fastest Man Alive!" "Frank Dux - the man who punched through bullet-proof glass."

Yes. This is one of his claims. He punched through ballistic glass.

I see these posters and I just groan. But we were committed.

So the day of all these Ninja Boys show up. I shit you not. Guys in actual Ninja outfits. Some not your standard ninja outfits. But frigg'n Urban Camouflage style! With the matching little booties and hoods!

Ok. A Karate gi is silly enough. Angry White Pajamas, right? BUT, Cammo Ninja outfits? C'mon.

I see this and my stomach begins to hurt. We invited all these other schools to come. Luckily most politely declined. Now I know why.

The ninjas were one of the local Dux Ryu schools. I never knew there WERE any Dux Ryu Ninjitsu schools up here, I say.

Of course you don't, they say. Because WE'RE NINJAS.

So Dux shows up. He looks like ten day old shit - bloated and voice craggy. And he is sporting an eye patch and shaggy full on ass-kicker mullet.

I almost laugh thinking he is pulling something. But it appears he has had major brain surgery or stroke or some shit since we last saw him. It is tragic.

And comical. The way he had to cock his head to see you. His one crazy eye nearly popping out his head. He twitched and had some sort of nervous spasm going on. I felt terrible for the guy.

So I cut him some slack from my earlier suspicions.

This was short lived. We spent the next four hours learning how to bow. The funny thing was the Ninja boys were like bowing WITH A VENGEANCE. Obviously they spent a great deal of time on this crucial technique. And that is what he said.

The bow is actually a neck break. ok. I KIND of see what he talking about. you could pin a guys head to your chest, step back and lean forward simultaneously and crank a neck. But it's a pretty cheesy frigg'n move if you don't actually sprawl on them - which means they would have to be shorter or trying to tackle you like a retard would.

So he says "Doubting Thomas why don't you come here and try to tack me and I will show you!"

Um. Ok. So I shoot in he goes to bow, I high crotch and get my hips under me and dump him on the floor.

"NO! Tackle! We live in a tackle culture. Not wrestling!"

he points to a ninja and they faithfully step up and do a Tim Conway Slow Motion Old Man Pseudo Tackle and he cranks the guy into the floor. "AAARAGLE" the guy does the most blatant prat-fall stage death rattle ever. He obviously knows how to sell a punch.

So hours of thins kind of thing go on. We learn how to sense each others chi. Basically a game of Marco Polo. With punching. Then there was some eye poking and learning to punch through bullet proof glass by visualizing it first. No actual punching or poking. Just sitting on the floor PICTURING punching in our heads.

At this point I wasn't visualizing bullet proof glass as nearly HLAF of the people had quietly snuck out. Evidently Dux finely tuned chi detector didn't notice. I have say through this whole time Dux is very funny and charming. It mostly his entourage that freaks me out. He KNOWS he is a scammer. The other dudes actually believe this shit! I'm not saying the dude couldn't fight at one time or another. he actually had some moves. but he knows people don't WAN'T that. That requires sweat. People will spend much bigger bucks on myths and mystical bullshit. So that is what he gives them.

I will skip ahead. To dinner. Thai food. Dux invites us out to dinner.

Then Dux breaks out the big guns. His conspiracy theories. These especially centered around the Regan Administration and former and deceased CIA head William Casey. Who Dux claimed had been trying to have him killed. It was all becuase of the south east asian Kiddie Porn ring Dux was sent to bust by fighting through yet another series of secret kumite. And somehow he had Learned Too Much and had to be eliminated by the CIA.

He says it will all be in his book. (the Secret Man that came out later)

But then I notice something while he spins his yarns about him assassinating Drug dealers and kiddie porn king pins. A name. And the time line. The name is General John Singlaub - I KNOW this guy - he was my dads boss in 7th Special Forces in Vietnam. But to Dux he is Darth Vader. As for the time line... well in order for Dux to have been in Vietnam during the time he mentions he would have been like 14 years old?

I've met John Singlaub, I say. He was my dad's boss.

"WHAT?" Dux says. He starts to get twitchy. "THAT MAN IS EVIL." Pad Thai hanging from his mouth. Everyone gasps.

And then his one good eye lingers on me. And he smiles like he knows I know. Then he changes the subject like the fastest man alive.

"Cyntia Rothrock juices. You know that! let me tell you about..."

The whole time he staring at me imploring me with his one eye like - look don't fuck this gig up for me.

So I don't. I just sit there and smile and just enjoy the ride.
posted by tkchrist at 3:55 PM on March 7, 2007 [10 favorites]

"I just sit there and smile and just enjoy the ride."

As I just did. Thanks.
posted by vronsky at 4:15 PM on March 7, 2007

tkchrist, you just made the greatest thread ever that much better.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:15 PM on March 7, 2007

"Of course you don't, they say. Because WE'RE NINJAS."

The visual had me rolling. Thanks for sharing! Dux sounds like a good guy to bullshit with at the local pub. Conspiracy theorists usually are.
posted by schleppo at 5:19 PM on March 7, 2007

"Cyntia Rothrock juices. You know that! let me tell you about..."

Until I remembered that "juicing" means steroid use, I thought about Cynthia rothrocks, um, "juices" and got a little squicked out.
posted by erskelyne at 5:52 PM on March 7, 2007

I need to add to the chorus here. This is the single greatest Metafilter post ever and I know I've said that before but this time I mean it.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:19 PM on March 7, 2007

Also, I don't know which of TK's comments to flag as awesome, so I just flagged them both.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:19 PM on March 7, 2007


Awesome post! That goofy ad is gonna be the background on my monitor.
posted by jason's_planet at 8:20 PM on March 7, 2007

The ad is awesome and all, but I'm sticking to my secret Buddhist Palm manual. Only set me back ten bucks, too.

The old guy who sold it to me said I was a natural-born Kung Fu genius...
posted by Opposite George at 8:30 PM on March 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

I ca't believe that I've never seen a concert flyer based on that ad. You'd think it's the kind of camp that college bands would be all over.

I've heard some great stories about Dux, all third hand though. They similarities between cults, TV psychics and mystical martial arts is amazing.

Other stories I've read actually show Dux in considerably worse light. TKChrist at least makes him come off as pretty charasmatic.

I'm not sure if this link will work, but it's a pretty fascinating article. Not only does Dux claim to have won the medal of honor, he busted a giant kiddie porn ring and saved a boat load of slaves. Of course all his claims are bogus, but somebody believes him.

My favorite among all these guys is still George Dillman.
posted by Telf at 9:05 PM on March 7, 2007

Sorry about that first link, I guess it only works on campus. Let me see if I can't pull up a free version.
posted by Telf at 9:07 PM on March 7, 2007

Cool Dillman link. First I had heard of him. Thanks telf.
posted by vronsky at 9:52 PM on March 7, 2007

Nifty links/thread/etc.

“Crazy, crazy, shit.”

Heh heh, yeah.
I mean uh, *solemn* yeah

Nifty tales dude.

(Kung Fu Hustle was brilliant - plenty of very cool references too)
posted by Smedleyman at 3:16 PM on March 8, 2007

tkchrist - GYOFB. And I mean that in a good way man. I'd love to read more. (Although I remember you mentioning copyright problems, so...)
posted by Smedleyman at 3:20 PM on March 8, 2007

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