View Full Version : Jon Blumming

11/17/2003 1:44pm,
Didn't he learn from an American Marine? Can't remember the guys name....could be wrong.

11/17/2003 2:24pm,
He learnt judo from Donn Draeger.

11/17/2003 2:29pm,
Thanks... couldn't remember his name. Boy, I got to find my video. I think my daughter taped Sailor Moon over it (kids).

11/18/2003 9:27pm,
By Jon Bluming

Copyright © Jon Bluming 2000. All rights reserved.

I trained in budo in Japan from February 1959 to November 1961, and my standard schedule was this. (I know, it sounds terrible now, but I loved it then.)

On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00 until 10:30 a.m. I did weight training at the Korakuen gym, which used to be the old Kodokan on Suidobashi and was by then the home of the Japan Karate Association. Donn Draeger was my weight coach, and Isao Inokuma was among my usual training partners.

I’ll never forget my first power training. It was squats. We started out with sixty kilos, twenty times. By the time I was done, my legs were shaking. But Donn wasn’t done yet. Oh no. He simply added a couple more plates, and up we went to 120 kilos, which was a lot for me in those days. I barely got the weight up before I said, "We’ve got to come down. NOW!"

There were only three stairs down to the level one could buy fruit drinks and such. I put my foot on the first step and that was it. The other steps I never made; I just tumbled down. I thought, "Well, I still need my orange juice," so I crawled off to get it. I wanted to go home, but Donn said, "No resting. You go play." I said, "They’re going to kill me." "So what? Let them think they’ve got you."

So off I stumbled to the dojo, where even the brown belts knocked me around like some kid who had no idea of what to do. They had only to look at me and over I went.

After lunch, it was training in jojutsu, or short stick, from 2:00 until 3:00 p.m. This training took place at the Tomisaka police station or the Tokyo kidotai (police academy), and the instructor was Takaji Shimizu.

Then it was back to the Kodokan for a nap, and then upstairs to the main dojo to fight as many as possible from 4:30 until 6:00 p.m. After a quick bite to eat, then it was over to the Oyama dojo to train in Kyokushin Kai karate from 7:30 until 9:00 p.m.

On Tuesday and Thursday morning from 9:00 until 10:30 a.m. I went to the police dojo, the Keisho, where the judoka were rough and usually heavier than at the Kodokan. Once a year there was a tournament, the police against the students. It was a lovely spectacle to watch and many times the police won.

After lunch it was over to the Tomisaka police dojo for iaido and kendo training. This training lasted from 1:00 until 2:00 p.m., and the instructor was Ichitaro Kuroda Sensei.

Then again back to the Kodokan for a nap, an hour and a half of judo on the main floor, dinner, and finally off to the Oyama dojo for some karate.

Saturday and Sunday morning it was over to the Kyokushin Kai dojo for two hours and then in the afternoon to the Kodokan again. In between, and afterwards, it was back to the grind of selling encyclopedias at the US bases around Tokyo with Bill Backhus.

The really amazing thing was that Bill and I still had time for girls. Japanese girls are the nicest in the world as far as I'm concerned.

The iaido teacher, Ichitaro Kuroda Sensei, taught me much about the meaning of budo. He was one of those very patient teachers, very serious and devoted to his art and his budo but always with a smile and a kind word. Not once did I see him show annoyance or anything but love and respect towards his students no matter how clumsy they were, and he offered good advice which sadly I did not always follow.

I started training with him at the same time as Donn Draeger, and felt that I was getting somewhere when I could put the sword away without losing some of my fingers, or even (most of the time) getting a little cut on my hand. Besides sword, we also practiced stick (jo) and kusari gama, or ball and sickle on a chain, with Kuroda. Bill Fuller started training there a few months later; Jim Bregman also came by once in awhile. Quintin Chambers and those other guys all started their training years later.

In June 1966, Bill Backhus and Jon Bluming were awarded commendations by the Tokyo police for their part in apprehending some car thieves. Here Bluming receives his award from the high commissioner of the Tokyo police. To his left are Ichitaro Kuroda and Donn Draeger.

I only missed class once. Sensei asked why the next time he saw me. "Simple," I said, "I did not have the money, as little as it seems, to pay you." He smiled and said that money was not important. Spirit was what counted, he said, not money, and I could come anyway. Even if I did not have the money he would teach me anyway.

That was Kuroda all the way , no wonder he was really admired, loved and respected by all of his students.

And that is also true budo.

Unfortunately it also got him screwed in the end for later all kinds of Europeans and Americans took advantage of his principles and honor to get top-quality training for free.


During the summer of 1961, knowing that I was soon to be leaving Japan, Mas Oyama doubled the time he spent with me training on Kyokushin Kai kata, and soon I had no time for anything but examinations and preparing for examinations. Yet despite all this extra training I still wore only a white belt in Oyama’s dojo. This was my private joke. Beginners always thought I was one of them, but after somebody told them who I was then they would call me Sempai, or senior. Meanwhile visiting black belts always loved lording it over the beginners, especially the foreigners. And of course I thought it pretty funny, too, them getting publicly thrashed by a gaijin white belt. Plus it was less embarrassing. For example, I saw the test Bobby Lowe did while wearing his black belt and it stank like a sewer. During kumite with Kenji Kurosaki he was all the time on the ground. Every time Kurosaki advanced he would drop on the ground with his leg up like the cowardly dog he is. Finally Kurosaki kicked him hard in his ass and told him that karate was done standing up.


Hawaii's Bobby Lowe tested at the Honbu Dojo in 1959. Although he could break bricks, Bluming says he was hopeless as a fighter. From left to right, Bill Backhus, Mas Oyama, Bobby Lowe, and Jon Bluming. Note Bluming's white belt; he wore one at the Kodokan, too, until the management told him he couldn't do that because it was hard on morale for beginners to see Japanese team captains thrown by large foreign white belts.

Be that as it may, my first major grading was in jodo and iaido rather than karate. Toward the end of August 1961 Donn and I were invited to give a demonstration during the All-Japan Police kendo championships held at the Hibiya amphitheater. The Japanese TV was there and the show was broadcast live. It was a great success, too. But what we did not know at the time was that it was also our examination, and after the demonstration we got a big hand from the police dojo instructors and received our 3-dan ranking and the lowest teachers’ certificates.


11/19/2003 5:50am,
Thanks Pat good read. Amazing.

11/19/2003 5:59am,
Oh man *salivates* What I wouldn't GIVE to be able to train like that ...

11/19/2003 6:01am,
With your shirt off?

11/19/2003 6:12am,
No, that MUCH. If all the hot guys in the gym trained with their shirts off, that would be enough for me.

11/19/2003 6:15am,
Draeger was in the right place at the right time with the right friends. What an opportunity.

11/19/2003 7:40am,
In Robert smith's book: Martial Musings, you can read many anecdoted about Draeger and Blumming AND some of the greatest internal kung fu and judo men of the 50's 60's and 70's.
Its a great read.

11/19/2003 9:30am,
Gotta get that book. Thanks Ronin69