It was in 1988 when one of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s most noteworthy films, Bloodsport, was released. The film focused on an underground, no-holds-barred mixed martial arts tournament with fighters from all over the world. With the film supposedly based on a true story, what do we know about the real Frank Dux — contract agent turned Kumite champ?

Who was Frank W. Dux? Portrayed in Bloodsport as a valuable military asset, Dux was shown as an agent who went AWOL to honor his Shidoshi (teacher) by taking home the Kumite trophy. However, the real Frank Dux had no proven ties to any government agency.

A search of his military records shows that he was an inactive reserve officer in the Marine Corps for six years but never saw action during this time. Dux continues to refute this by saying that his efforts in Vietnam were part of covert operations and were therefore not on any public record. There is yet to be any confirmation or corroboration of this claim.

He is a martial artist and fight choreographer who established his ninjitsu school in 1975. He was said to have been trained by a man named Jack Seki, but his achievements in the sport continue to be questioned; including his Kumite trophy, which many say Frank had ordered from a nearby trophy shop. But regardless of all the controversy surrounding his life, one thing is certain – Dux is a knowledgeable fighter who created his own style of ninjitsu, Dux Ryu.

The movie made Dux and Van Damme close friends; close to the point where Dux even dated Van Damme’s sister-in-law, but their relationship became strained when Dux sued Van Damme for allegedly stealing a script the former had developed, and leaving him without credit, not to mention a decent payday. Dux eventually lost the case.

Was there actually a Kumite? Although there hasn’t been any clear-cut substantiation of such a tournament, Dux has mentioned that a sponsored event much like the Kumite in the film (by-invite, betting included) takes place every five years. Other professional fighters have also spoken about their participation in the tournament.

An organization by the name of The Black Dragon Fighting Society (BDFS) continues to acknowledge Dux’s achievements in relation to this tournament, but no other leads are said to exist. Other agencies also remain tightlipped on their supposed participation in this real-world Kumite, though it’s said that it inspired modern-day MMA and Octagon fights.

Have you seen Bloodsport? What do you think of the real Frank Dux?