Martial politics, personal rivalries and hate agendas, aimed to discredit a noted UK martial expert decades ago, reveal the dark side of human nature and obscure the teachings of a vital martial art.
This piece is a collaboration of several martial artists who seek to cast an intelligent light on the past, alleged controversies surrounding the late British martial artist, Nagaboshi Tomio (Terence Dukes). As the Australian martial art researcher, Kate Marshall, commented, ‘I think an explanation of the Nagaboshi/Mattson situation is a good idea – one because it’s long overdue and secondly, because it would be nice to be able to mention Nagaboshi or Mushindo without receiving the knee-jerk wave of criticism each time.’
We assert that the negativity surrounding this gifted teacher was falsely created and that Nagaboshi Tomio was deeply insightful of the ancient martial traditions of Asia and worthy of note.
This essay is written for those who found, or may find, their martial path uplifted as a result of Nagaboshi’s teachings and seeking a fair understanding of the issues he confronted, and for those who have invalidated the man without investigating the truth behind the claims against him
In the year 2000 I read a remarkable martial art book by the British author, Nagaboshi Tomio (Terence Dukes). This work was unlike any previous book I had read. Nagaboshi’s hefty tome traced the influence and evolution of Buddhism on the martial traditions of Asia. I found it extraordinary in its depth. One statement in the book’s appendix regarding Sanchin kata, part of my own teaching curriculum, urged me to write the author.
I received an immediate response directing me to Mushindo Kempo’s U.S.A. representative, Arakawa Mitsugi, Shifu, an American-born, Japanese-trained Aikibudo expert who had also been positively affected by Nagaboshi’s works. Our initial communication has resulted in an on-going, twenty-year collaboration probing the influence and essence of the spiritual martial traditions of Asia.
Early in my communications with Shifu Arakawa he made me aware of personal attacks against Nagaboshi, propogated by a small group of individuals, almost all later involved in Uechiryu karate. My curiosity was piqued. I wondered how much veracity was behind the accusations because my impression of Nagaboshi was always positive and thought provoking.
One individual in particular appeared to be the catalyst for the issues that dogged Nagaboshi and his Mushindo Kempo organization for years. This individual posted continuous and vicious cyber attacks on both his personal and professional life, mostly under an alias.
According to Arakawa Mistugi, the serious harassment lasted four to five years. During this time Nagaboshi chose not to engage his detractors, advising his followers instead to act like the spiritual individuals they had become and to honor their rites of ordination.
I was not surprised a controversy had emerged. Few people rise to any significant height in this world without scrutiny, challenge, and/or counter-posturing politics. Even the best teachers have their detractors. Aspersions cast from the disgruntled and misinformed trolls of the world is simply part of modern life. On the other hand, I was surprised how misinformed those who jumped on the Nagaboshi-bashing bandwagon remain even a decade after his death. As you will see, many of these people have fallen for a shallow understanding of the facts I will lay out.
There are many martial artists and laypeople in the world that have benefited from Nagaboshi’s works, which captured the historically significant nature of old world, authentic Asian karatedo practices as they entered Western culture. Nagaboshi gave us a rare glimpse into the monastic-influenced martial arts in their most unadulterated form. He taught and transmitted these teachings as a practical, philosophic and spiritual foundation for the modern martial artist.
Not everyone is expected to be in agreement with Nagaboshi’s ideas. He was a strong-minded individual. Even Gichin Funakaoshi, ‘Father of Modern Karate’ had his detractors. But one person in particular went to exceptional lengths to get others to feel his particular way about Nagaboshi.
Before I had any awareness of Nagaboshi Tomio, I had already trained in Okinawan karate for thirty-two years. I am a career professional martial art teacher, the product of a significant pioneering karate dojo in New Jersey. At no time in my involvement with the Mushindo Kempo U.S.A., beginning in 2000, or with Arakawa Mitsugi, its successor, did I ever encounter a sense of scam, sham, falsity, inauthenticity or cult atmosphere. Meaningful ideas were always exchanged in the spirit of martial brotherhood.
Nagaboshi’s seminal work The Bodhisattva Warriors, published in 1994, by Samuel Weiser, USA, continues to sell to this day. Its contents offer a strikingly refreshing perspective of martial potential contrasted to some of the mainstream’s, watered-down commercialized presentations.
Terence Dukes, whose Buddhist name was Nagaboshi Tomio, was born in London in 1946. He died of congenital heart failure in 2005 at the age of fifty-nine. Nagaboshi led an extraordinary martial life. He was influential in the propagation of authentic martial traditions in Great Britain since the mid-1970s. His great uncle, Sir Paul Dukes, was one of the first Western teachers to introduce Yoga into Great Britain in the 1950s. Most facts regarding Terence Dukes’ life can be validated by numerous outside sources. He communicated with leading martial and spiritual figures from around the world. Archival videos on YouTube capture Nagaboshi’s martial skills, demonstrating a committed and talented karate practitioner.
A man named Christopher Jones (appearing on the Internet as Bod Boulton) was a central figure in the initial attempts to discredit Nagaboshi’s reputation, specifically to members of the Uechi and Gojuryu communities through slanderous internet posts and sites, many later removed under the threat of legal action prompted by Arakawa Mitsugi. Marshall clarifies that ‘Bod Boulton’ is in fact a made-up name (the Bod part is a tongue-in- cheek reference to Bodhidharma and Bodhisattva). A small group in England who wished to discredit Mushindo in general, and Nagaboshi in particular, used this umbrella alias to hide their identities. Overall, the Bod Boulton posts stirred up trouble wherever possible.
According to Arakawa Mitsugi, Jones hatred toward Nagaboshi was ignited by his expulsion from Nagaboshi’s organization for engaging in an illicit affair with another member.
Arakawa remembers encountering a popular martial art author and blogger, Gary Gablehouse who, initially swayed by Boulton, used an alias to dig up dirt on Nagaboshi. Not finding any, but instead being set straight by Arakawa, Gablehouse cut his ties with Boulton and his followers, whom he found to be extremist, and befriended Arakawa. As a side note, Marshall relates that Gablehouse suffered from terrible nightmares for years because of horrendous experiences he’d had in Africa in his younger days. Shifu Arakawa gave him a thankga that had belonged to Nagaboshi Dai Shifu. Gary hung it on the wall behind his bed head. His nightmares disappeared.
Two other martial controversies, more rightly labeled smear campaigns, were the false rumors spread by Uechiryu’s, George Mattson and UK’s Shotokan author and karate expert, Harry Cook. Cook once wrote in Fighting Arts magazine that if he were ever to write a book on the greatest martial charlatan, Nagaboshi Tomio would rank # 1.
For reasons unknown, Harry Cook began to undermine Nagaboshi’s martial credibility shortly after a UK Shotokan tournament in the early 1970s. Nagaboshi suggested a possible reason in an archived correspondence; his organization had gotten popular amongst many Shotokan and Wado ryu karate groups. The Shoto groups, in particular, seemed annoyed after one of his students won a Shotokan Seniors kata competition outright. It was shortly after that Harry Cook began his negative campaign against him. The denigrations ceased after Cook was sentenced to ten years in jail for 49 charges of child sexual abuse, spanning four decades, involving five victims.
The George Mattson Controversy
To understand the Uechiryu/Mattson controversy it is helpful to know that in the late 1960s thru the mid- 1970s there was an explosive interest in Western culture for the martial arts. This led to a massive rank grab by Western teachers, conjointly with their push to expand their business territory with such a lucrative interest at hand. One such teacher was George Mattson.
Mattson, a business graduate from Boston, is the founder of Uechiryu in USA. In the 1960s he persuaded Kanei Uechi (head of Uechiryu at the time) to give him a franchise to promote Uechi in Western countries. Mattson’s business orientation was to turn Karate into a paying enterprise. To this end he introduced student contracts and offered provisional Dan grades to lower ranked students in return for their setting up their own dojo under his direction. Some might say that George Mattson was the founder of the modern business dojo in the US.
Mattson himself never trained with Kanbun Uechi who died in 1948. Mattson started his karate training in 1956 at age 19, under Ryuko Tomoyose. He had about 18 months training before being awarded his black belt and returning to the U.S. to teach.
Nagaboshi noted it was around 1973 that Mattson began to make broad public accusations against him. Mattson claimed, for instance, that Nagaboshi’s book, The Bodhisattva Warriors, was a “complete fiction.” His comment however, turns out a smoke-without-substance allegation. No serious scholarly challenge discrediting The Bodhisattva Warriors was ever undertaken. There is also a common agreement amongst researchers regarding scholarly historical investigation that information uncovered from the past is always subject to review and debate, and modified when and where new findings are made.
One of Mattson’s posts about this book, in particular, caught my eye when he stated; “Few people who pick up the book ever wade through the whole thing and even fewer would attempt to follow the links Terry refers to in backing up his various claims. He counts on this!” I can personally attest that I followed a link in T. Duke’s book about the Sanchin kata and sought clarification directly from the author. Nagaboshi explained the matter with a high level of understanding.
Robert Murray, Secretary of Kongokita Dojo, Scotland; a member of the MKA in 1999, pointed out that Shifu Nagaboshi had studied with some very famous teachers, was well known and respected in the Buddhist world as was his work, The Bodhisattva Warriors. He asked readers to look at the credits in the books introduction adding, “…no reader of it needs any convincing about its worth and integrity as don’t the Universities dojos and Japanese groups around the world who use it in their class teachings.”
The Fraud of No Fraud
Mattson publically suggested that Nagaboshi [Terance (Terry) Dukes] was a fraud and his organization, a cult. In his own words, “It would seem that when a fraud is uncovered, the individual responsible should quietly go away. In Terry Dukes’s case, he keeps popping up like the proverbial bad penny…. it wasn’t long before Terry and his web of deceit began to unravel.”
But Matteson used innuendo to avoid claiming Nagaboshi an outright fraud. For no legal charges of fraud were ever brought against him or any ‘web of fiction/deceit’ proven by anyone. The “web of deceit” appears Mattson’s twisting of facts to gain greater market share for his Uechi ryu in G.B. by undermining Nagaboshi’s martial credibility.
Following allegations that a formal investigation of Nagaboshi had begun, Arakawa himself contacted the local Police in Norfolk, UK who confirmed, “no such criminal investigation was underway nor ongoing.” To the contrary, Nagaboshi was regarded as an upstanding member of the Norfolk Community.
Marshall, who had several years of daily correspondence with Nagaboshi during this period, shed light on the two flashpoints of Mattson’s issue with Nagaboshi. One had to do with a passage in an article published in (Action Karate, Volume 3 No. 2., March, 1970, pg. 24-26) The author is unknown. The heading read Mushindo Ryu Karate with a line thanking Sensei Dukes, Miyai, and Yasuka for supplying material and photographs.
While in China, Otomo studied the Pwangai style with a certain Ching Li, better known now from the Okinawan pronouncement of name Konbum Uechi – 10th Dan, founder of Uechi Ryu Karate. These two forms (Uechi and Mushindo) had many common points, both in kata and in practice, but as Mushindo is the older it is, therefore, the more original.
Nagaboshi felt that Mattson held the idea that the MKA was pretending to be Uechi ryu and therefore impinging his franchises. He believes this idea started because one of his dojo secretaries thought Mushindo was connected to Uechi as they did similar kata. Because he innocently believed that they were the same group under a different name he publicized Uechiryu in a British Magazine. When Nagaboshi discovered the mistake he sent a note to the magazine. But that didn’t appease Mattson. This was compounded by the fact that the Magazine editor at the time, Mr. P. Crompton, was “always making mistakes in people’s letters and changing names or editing their articles,” according to a British MKA member familiar with the publication.
Mattson is Refused
If the magazine article exacerbated Mattson’s relationship with Nagaboshi, the central issue appeared to be the fact that Nagaboshi refused Mattson’s offer of a conditional black belt to teach Uechiryu and front for him. It was only after Nagaboshi’s refusal that stories, such as Nagaboshi inventing his own school, began to circulate within the Uechiryu community. As one correspondent pointed out, “The presence of other Mushindo teachers in other countries before TD [Terence Dukes] began teaching is conveniently ignored by such people.” An MKA journal thirty-two years ago even published a copy of Mattson’s letter offering the grades in Uechi along with an interview where Nagaboshi discussed the matter.
A reconstruction of the events from a series of Nagaboshi’s correspondences offers more detail. Nagaboshi explained that Uechiryu’s initial founder, Konbum Uechi, studied partly at a temple run by teachers of the Mushindo tradition, which is how the two systems had similar kata. Nagaboshi believed Mattson might have seen his earning capacities threatened by this knowledge.
Also around this time, Ron Ship, a 2nd Dan student of Nagaboshi, traveled to the USA and trained with Mattson. Mattson offered Ship a conditional 3rd Dan if he would establish a Uechiryu dojo in England. Mushindo is a non- profit organization and their teachers (including Nagaboshi) do not receive payment. Ship, desiring a more commercial footing, accepted Mattson’s offer.
In 2002 Mattson admitted offering provisional Dan certificates to various people during the 60s. In the mid-to- late 60s, Mattson corresponded with Nagaboshi Tomio in England followed by his offer of a Uechiryu 3rd Dan. In 1968 Nagaboshi held a Ni Dan ranking in Mushindo. In exchange, Nagaboshi was to promote Uechiryu in the UK. Nagaboshi refusal led to the fake stories appearing about him, started by people connected with Uechiryu.
It is unclear why Mattson thought Nagaboshi would be interested in his offer. For many years it was even circulated that the offer was just more of Nagaboshi’s ‘lies.’ Then some thirty years later, in 2002, Mattson publicly wrote about his offer to Nagaboshi. He downplays Nagaboshi’s martial art credentials and his offer of the Uechiryu grade. He doesn’t mention that it was a 3rd Dan but states it was ‘conditional’ on Nagaboshi’s training with a legitimate teacher, namely Ron Ship. Mattson doesn’t mention that Ship had trained with Mattson for only a relatively short time, or that Ship’s own Uechiryu grade was ‘conditional,’ or that Ship was a former student of Nagaboshi’s.
Mattson later posted that he had lost all his correspondences with Nagaboshi.
Mattson’s own organization suffered fallings out as well. When Nagaboshi taught in the U.S. in 1972, his friend Robert Trias told him that lots of Uechiryu black belts had left Mattson to join him. Even Nagaboshi’s expelled Liverpool Dojo rejected Mattson’s offer to convert to his Uechiryu.
According to Arakawa Mitsugi, Mattson also verbally alleged that Nagaboshi Dai Shifu ‘stole’ their Ueichiryu Sanshinmom [image above]. Mattson didn’t like the Mushindo Kempo using the three comma symbol claiming he had copyrighted it.
Robert Murray refuted this claim; “…I myself know for instance that our school’s [Mushindo Kempo] official crest (the Sanshinmon) was registered here (and internationally) in 1958 – many years before certain people in the US ever tried to pretend it as their own [Murray is referring to Mattson’s Uechiryu community in the U.S and GB]. As we read in BW the crest has been used by the pro-royalists in the Ryukyus since 1609. Tibetan Buddhists have used since the 10thC. We actually use it in its correct and pre Japanese format not upside down and turned to the side as is now common in Japan.”
Another MKA member stated, “I and many others have seen the original certificate, reframed and hung up in 1997 by Sarah Harris, which was issued under the ‘Business Names and Registration Act of 1916 as amended by the ‘Companies Act of 1947’ by the then named Board of Trade which records patent to both the name and badge design of the Mushindo Sanshinmon design, for the purposes of manufacture and production in any form whatsoever, as being the sole property of the Okinawan (Mushindo Kempo) Karate Kai and/or its named representative(s). A sealed specimen of the registered ‘Mon’ is attached to the rear of the certificate. It is signed and certified by a ‘R. W. Westley’ and at present hangs in an obscure corner of Shifu Nagaboshi’s home next to the Kongoryuji temple…Incidentally it hangs next to a copy of Shifu Nagaboshi’s (unmentioned) Japanese language Shingon teaching certificate and also his Chinese language Kempo authorisation.”
Boulton Draws Straws
Boulton’s many allegations, like that of Nagaboshi Tomio inventing his own style, appear to be confined mostly to his own personal opinion and the strength of his ability to convince others of his untruths. Nagaboshi often listed his teachers, teaching lineage and important martial associations in his published works.
In Nagaboshi’s lengthy 1971 Mushindo Kempo manual he lists names and titles of Mushindo teachers and supporters. Any fraudulent misrepresentation would certainly have caused a backlash. Yet, it appeared quite the opposite. Marital art experts from G.B., U.S. France, Greece, Australia, Japan, Okinawa, all praised Nagaboshi, Mushindo Kempo and its teachers, including H. Kimura, senior student of Kenwa Mabuni, and the American karate pioneer, Robert Trias, founder of the United States Karate Association (USKA). Nagaboshi also received praise from the spiritual and Yogic communities, including Christmas Humphreys, The Buddhist Society, M. Oki, founder of Japan Okido Yoga, and T. Gyeche, secretary to the Dalia Lama.
A BBC TV presentation on Nagaboshi and his teachings, viewed by thousands, was so well received by the British Public in 1974 that it was aired a second time. No challenge emerged from the British martial art community regarding this airing.
Boulton began to draw straws insinuating that the MKA’s R. Murray, who often spoke in Nagaboshi’s defense, was actually Nagaboshi because his handwriting looked “remarkably like [Terence] Dukes.” But Boulton’s allegation lost its credibility as he also accused both A. Mitsugi and K. Marshall of being Nagaboshi, as well.
In a 2000 post, Boulton points out MKA students left ‘en masse,’ suggesting there was a problem with Nagaboshi and the MKA. Arakawa sets the record straight why Mushindo students left “en masse.” The departures resulted from Boulton’s theft of personal membership data on every MKA Dojo, which he used to circulate letters to destroy the MKA organization and Nagaboshi Dai Shifu.
Arakawa himself received a rambling three-page letter written by Boulton and the woman MKA secretary he was having an illicit affair with, which made counter allegations of sexual misconduct by Nagaboshi. Arakawa recalls finding nothing in the letter’s content that anyone would identify as ‘sexual misconduct’ but a great deal that pointed to the disturbed individuals who wrote it. Even Nagaboshi’s female companion is on record stating; “I would like to make it abundantly clear that I object to my name and personal details being manipulated by Mr. Alison [Rupert Allison was part of the original group attacking Nagaboshi’s reputation] in such a manner. Not only is what he says untrue but it is slanted in such a way as to make Shifu appear to be something he is very much not…”
Marshall added that the ‘fallout’ from the personal attacks also included threatening phone calls to Mushindo members and their families. She also recalls that quite a few schools affiliated with Mushindo were closed down because they were not up to standard. The Liverpool Club was expelled in 1974/75 for its violence and later the Oxford Group for other improprieties. So it wasn’t just that members chose to leave, but that members were expelled while others simply sought to distance themselves from the threats.
I had set about to separate fact from fiction during the tumultuous period in Nagaboshi’s life for my own understanding. I discovered that no allegation leveled against this gifted teacher ever proved to be true. No formal or legal charges were ever brought against him for any wrongdoing. Most accusations came from sophists either perpetuating, or swayed by, an inaccurate narrative seeded by a single man who used an alias to denigrate Nagaboshi’s life.
The efforts to discredit Nagaboshi Tomio, Dai Shifu, and his Mushindo Kempo organization came from false and unprovoked propaganda. The Internet attacks by the former, disgruntled MKA member, Christopher Jones/Bod Boulton, displayed a deep hatred for Nagaboshi evidenced by the ‘get well’ card he sent to him after his second heart attack with the inscription, “Die You! Die! Hahahah!”
George Mattson’s posts to discredit Nagaboshi and his organization, while behind the scenes offering him and various MKA students dan grading to promote his organization, reveal the cloudiness of personal and business agendas that can overshadow the value of one’s art and ethics.
Despite the above, Nagaboshi maintained his integrity as a Buddhist refusing to engage his detractors. He kept his focus on his study, sharing his insights with those interested. I do not suggest that Nagaboshi Tomio was a perfect man but he clearly got caught in the crosshairs of both hate and profiteering agendas. I am sure Nagaboshi suffered privately as a result of these unwanted embroilments.
I only knew Nagaboshi Dai Shifu through his writings and the stories of those who had a personal relationships with him. Yet, it has been through his teachings that I, and others, have found some profound martial insights worthy of our continued investigation.
I hope the information provided above offers readers curious about this subject a more balanced overview of the issues relating to Nagaboshi Tomio’s life and works, and brings a measure of clarity and peace to all the parties involved.
Thanks to the two main contributors for their clarifications and archived correspondences on the above issues. Both had many communications with Nagaboshi Tomio throughout the period in question.
Arakawa Mitsugi, Shifu U.S. Tenshin Ryushin-Ji, Wu Hsin Tao. Zhang Xing-Yi Kuntau & Aikido Shindokai Nobumasa-ryu
Kate Marshall Australia. Historical martial art researcher and many decades long martial art practitioner.
For a free PDF of Nagaboshi Dai Shifu’s Bio, simply send an email request to Hayashi Shifu, firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for the Nagaboshi Bio. We hope a future retrospective of Nagaboshi Tomio’s works may one day be available to the martial public.