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Well, this interview certainly took some time in the making. Mr. Ron Collins has often been followed by controversy and slander. Yet, many embrace him as a teacher, an artist, and a friend. Today we get the opportunity to hear some of Mr. Collins’ thoughts and wisdom in his own words.
Warlock Asylum: It is indeed a pleasure to finally sit down and have the privilege of listening to some of your wisdom. I must say that after becoming more familiar with your work, you have really worked hard to become a pioneer in the field of martial arts. However, for some of our readers, who may not be familiar with your persona. How would you introduce yourself? Who is Ron Collins?
Ron Collins: Thank you, for the kind words. How I introduce myself and who I am are two very different things. Hi, I’m Ron. Now who I am is well to quote Dracula from Dracula 2000 “We are so much more complicated than our names (laughs).” I’m just a guy. The martial arts are something I do but, it’s not who I am. It is something I’m known for and there is so much more about who I am. I think this is true for everyone. We only see one aspect of a person, not their other aspects. Martial arts is a job for me. I teach and write books on it. I like that there is more to me than just martial arts.
I love martial arts, but I also love adventuring, music, stories, good literature, movies, and so much more. I’d rather explore the world than spend all day in a dojo. Martial arts are just a gateway for that place of exploration. I enjoy travelling to train, to give seminars and so on. I have a hobby that is like part-time job that I love doing. I’d rather write stories like the Brass Keep, which is my one work of fiction, than I would books on Ninjutsu. But, Ninjutsu pays for the adventure so that is what I write. None of this, however, explains who I am because I don’t want to be put in a box. I’m many things to many people, but in the end I am, just me.
Warlock Asylum: What inspired you to get involved in martial arts?
Ron Collins: My parents! My mother was a black belt in Karate and she started teaching me the art when I was about 2 or 3 years old. My dad would get stoned on a joint mixed with Angel Dust or PCP. Anyway, he tried to kill my mother and that is what got me into martial arts.
I decided when I was a child that I wanted to protect people and get revenge on my father. It wasn’t until I was 15 years old that my instructor, Sensei Martin, the first person to teach me Omoto Ryu, told me I was so far beyond my father because of what he taught me. Basically, this idea of beating up my father made me no better than him. Soon after, my outlook changed to that of a protector and not being obsessed with revenge. Plus, I just love to train! I’m not really fixated on any particular style, so I train in anything and everything I can. Bruce Lee once said “There is only one style, the human style.” Most martial forms have basically the same techniques. The only real differences is how different people train in those shared techniques.
Warlock Asylum: When people hear the name Ron Collins, images often come to mind of the “ninja guy.” What is your understanding of Ninjitsu and involvement in it?
Ron Collins: My understanding of Ninjutsu has changed over the years. I got caught up in the ninja martial arts movement when I first got involved in Ninjutsu , more specifically the Bujinkan. But, when I started training with Sensei Martin, he taught it as more of tactical martial art. Then Sensei Omoto separated the idea that Ninjitsu was a martial art. He always stressed you had to learn martial arts before you could learn Ninjutsu. In reality, he really didn’t want to be involved in Ninjutsu. He thought Ninjutsu was too political and drew too much negative attention. So what Sensei Martin taught as Omoto Ryu Ninjitsu, Sensei Omoto taught as Omoto Ryu Budo.
Now my Ninjutsu, Black Dragon Ninjitsu, is based on the Omoto Ryu system. It is a bit different, as I’ve created a modern martial system – mixed with my US Army Infantry Training. My understanding of Ninjitsu is basically this; you have modern “tactical martial arts” based on the history and perhaps a bit of the fantasy of the historical ninja. You have historical Ninjutsu which was stated in Bansenshukai by Fujibayashi Sabuji that Ninjutsu was grounded in the military aspect of strategy. Ninjutsu wasn’t a martial art, but, a strategic art used by Samurai and Ashigarusha (lower class samurai and even some conscripted soldiers) to do everything from scouting to infiltration and psychological manipulation.
Warlock Asylum: I would like to congratulate you on the release of your book, Black Dragon Ninjitsu and your blog page under the same name. Can you tell us a bit more about Black Dragon Ninjitsu, your involvement in it, and its origin?
Ron Collins: Well that is kind of the fun part! Black Dragon Ninjutsu has its origin with me. As a Black Dragon Fighting Society member, I used the blanket term of Black Dragon Ninjitsu. It has its roots in Omoto Ryu Budo, Jeet Kune Do Concepts, and various other martial arts. I broke down basic infantry training as well. So we do train with modern firearms. It’s not just martial arts but it is strategy, tactics and psychological manipulation and so on.
Martial arts covers a wide-range of study and Ninjutsu is only a small part of it. But, we say martial artists or a ninja, I hate that term by the way, is restricted to “such and such style,” or has the fight “this way or that way.” Ninjutsu isn’t about fighting. It’s about thinking and I want Black Dragon Ninjitsu as a modern art to reflect that.
Warlock Asylum: In one of your articles, appearing on the Black Dragon Ninjitsu blog page, you mention that you are associated with Grandmaster Ashida Kim. How did you discover Grandmaster Ashida Kim’s work? What benefits have you cultivated from his guidance?
Ron Collins: The public library is where I first discovered Secrets of the Ninja and Ninja Hands of Death. They were awesome books and then someone stole them. (Laughs) It always happened with books that people feel will help them gain some sort of empowerment, or secrets of getting what they wanted. The occult books got grabbed up as well. But, yeah I first came across books on Ninjutsu as a kid in the Raleigh County Public Library. It wasn’t just Ashida Kim, but Hatsumi and Hayes as well. I think I was 7 or 8 at the time. In any event, Ashida Kim’s work stood out to me, especially Secrets of the Ninja where he discusses Espionage Principles. I didn’t understand it then. But it was, it is, extremely profound and I knew it.
While I was training under Sensei Omoto, my mother’s boyfriend bought these same books for his son and this time I had a different understanding of the knowledge they contained. The best lessons I’ve learned from Grandmaster Kim came from just being friends with the man. There is little things, you get from talking to him that you don’t find in any of his books, or written literature, which is true whenever you train with a person and some things you really can’t get out of books or dvd courses. I also think books and dvds if they are well prepared by someone who knows their discipline, can be better than a “bad teacher.”
Knowledge is a subtle thing. You can have it and never know how to use it. One of the greatest things that I’ve learned from Grandmaster Kim is that humility and kindness have greater influence than ego and aggression. Winning the UFC won’t stop someone with a gun or make you stab-proof. I learn towards the reality based self-defense crowd on simulating combat conditions to apply things within context in that area. Now I’ve seen people who made up their arts and proclaimed themselves “master” or “Soke” and Ashida Kim is very subtle about dealing with them. Rather than trying to call them out, that “pot calling the kettle black thing” usually happens when people are trying to hide their own B.S. Instead, Master Kim will call them” master” treat them as an equal and will “trade” some of ninja secrets with them. In turn, they get that feeling of empowerment by being a “master” and will eventually play the role until they become the “master they see themselves as being,” while being a good student. We all wear masks! Mine is a ninja mask (Laughs).
Basically, all these ranks, titles, and certificates mean nothing. It’s about the knowledge and how you use it to make your little corner of the world a better place. That is the “Secret to Winning the Game” we call life. To make the lives of others around you better, make the world around you better. Not by force. It comes from simply being an example of humility and kindness. You have so much hero-worship in martial arts, many schools could be considered cults. Even with the MMA crowd you have so many people who are raised to the position of “beyond mere mortal” no one else can even claim to own a strip of cloth equal to these “god heads” of martial arts.
Warlock Asylum: I am curious about how you have been able to endure such a wide slash of criticism by the media other martial artists? Although I find it amazing how people are treated so unforgivingly in a “Christian” country. It seems like your critics want to make sure that your name remains tarnished. On the other hand, I must admit that much of what has been stated about you can give strangers quite a scare. Some have accused you of rape, and in possession of child pornography. In regards to such news, is there anything that you would like to say to set the record straight?
Ron Collins: Everything that needs to be said has been said. Hell, I even have a video tape about what happened. It’s most surprising to think that if I am this “demon” that I am made out to be, then why do people still buy my books? Why are most of my friends still around? Why do all of my old students still want to train with me?
Eh, Screw ’em! The rape claim is simple. I was never charged with Rape! It’s something a girl who was abused by her father claimed in court and went back and then said she was coerced by her mother and a cop who was a friend of the family, and the prosecutor in court on appeal. The child pornography charge was dismissed due to lack of evidence. How do you charge someone for possession of something and not have what they possessed as proof they possessed it? Actually, there is a video online (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1HjsbysqW0) where I filed a complaint against my uncle and stated his personal involvement with certain officers to Lt Deeds of the West Virginia State Police Office of Professional Standards. Yet, I was charged for a crime my uncle committed and there is another video of him under oath (link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqAkUF2-ZjI) basically admitting it. The poor girl has to keep lying and slandering my name to protect the images of these people. I feel sorry for her.
All of this stems from a former Karate Instructor by the name of Danny Massey, who was a member of the Avengers Motorcycle Club, which is considered to be an organized crime organization by both the FBI and the state of West Virginia. Massey wanted me to join the club. When I didn’t, they tried to force my hand. This is resulted in the delinquency charge, which led to the rape claim. Now everyone involved could be traced to the Avengers in some form or another, me, through Danny Massey, Ashley Redden, the alleged victim through her father Bobby Redden, Trooper Duckworth, through his wife, Bobby Redden’s cousin and his brother-in-law Trooper Williams. The Magistrate, Mary Jennings, through her son and daughter who regularly associated with the club, until her daughter married Darrel Lilly the former President, who only resigned to marry a magistrate’s daughter. But even then, several deputies and city police are related to him. How police and magistrates can be related to, and connected with, a group consider to be an organized crime unit and still be involved in the state and federal government is beyond me. Eventually, the whole thing exploded with Ashley kept trying to get in contact with me after time for the delinquency charge and battery on a police officer ended. There is a lot more, I explained everything in Never Back Down and even supplied a copy of the legal papers.
The “terrorist threats” charge for allegedly threatening Trooper Duckworth was also dismissed. I made a hypothetical legal argument and tried to get them to arrest me falsely, knowing if I used graphic language they’d basically do it. I wanted to argue the legitimacy of Bad Elk vs the United States, where the US Supreme Court said you can kill a cop in self-defense against a false arrest. There is also the case of Mapp vs Ohio, which is the “good faith” clause that requires you to show the cop acted in bad faith i.e. intentionally violated your rights in court. All of which was in the statement I made online. So with the state dismissing the case, I won the legal battle without even a fight in court, minus the police and Raleigh County Prosecutor Kristen Keller fabricating more evidence. Well, the state backed out and dropped the charges so I won the battle. My legal argument stands. If I can prove the cops violated my rights, I can resist arrest. Now basically self-defense common law stands that I must be in fear of my life, which my life and my family’s lives have been threatened. So yeah, I am worried that something will happen to one of us. Just scan the net. Cops killed over 1,000 innocent people last year. They have guns and a personal grudge against me. I fear for my life.
Filming people sworn to protect your rights, who violate those rights isn’t war. Not all cops are bad people or racists, but not everyone concerned about the bad apples in the police forces are anti-cops either.
I’m pro-constitution, but my experience has shown me that police officers tend to side with other officers, even when they are in the wrong. They have an “us versus them” mentality and the difference between us is that we have to assume they are acting in good faith. So I did what I did out of fear for my life and publicized evidence of misconduct and fabricated evidence and got them to argue the legal authority of those U.S. Supreme Court cases. All I had to do was throw out some of the internet trolls names and they spread the word and got the attention for me. Free advertising or ninja mind control if you will-since no one argued the legality of it, and the state dismissed the charges for an unnamed reason. Well there is now a legal precedent in Raleigh County to resist a false arrest with proof of misconduct. The best part is I didn’t have to hurt anyone, kill anyone, or anything like that to have that legal standard argued in court.
Warlock Asylum: What obstacles did you have to overcome in order to make your dream as a martial artist come alive?
Ron Collins: Overcome? None! I’m still trying to overcome them. It’s funny the martial arts market and culture is so mixed up on fixated on being the best or selling something and making money it is almost a joke across the board. Everyone is fixated on something to claim to be “The One.” I agree with Bruce that there is only one style and that is the human style. Everyone trains a bit differently, and if we honestly look at the context we can take something from almost everyone.
My biggest problem has to deal with the corruption and criminality I’ve experienced coming home from the Army. It has consumed so much of my life. It’s like a bad 80s action movie. The struggle has meaning. I keep working on it and I get a little closer each time. I do a little better each time. I’ve come to enjoy the struggle because without it I’d honestly get bored and quit.
Warlock Asylum: What inspired you to begin picking up your pen and writing? I noticed that some of your works are listed as “out-of-print” on Amazon. How can our readers obtain some of your writings?
Ron Collins: I used to write a lot as kid, stories and stuff. I could express myself better on paper than I could in speech. When I wrote the original Black Dragon Ninjitsu book, it was based on a student handbook I had for children I was teaching at New River for free. In fact the drawings are the original drawing, I sent Grandmaster Kim the pages and he copied the drawing and typed it up. The “Red Book” is the original 1st edition. I’ve added to it for later editions.
I used to run the New River Park trial every day and practice my art on the hill. After a while, I had a few people who started watching me and the crowd grew. Eventually this girl asked me what I was doing and I explained. She asked me if I would teach her. Later, it was her and three of her friends. Within a week, I had sixteen people between the ages of 15 and 35 working out with me and training with me. I was 19 and for three cents a page I could get copies, front and back and stapled them into a “handbook.” I wanted to see if Ashida Kim would publish it and I had been in contact with him since Marine Boot camp. My mom wrote him and said I was a fan. We have been “penpals” ever since.
I was unaware any of them are out of print. I was selling the special edition hardback copies of Black Dragon Ninjitsu. But I only made 53 of those in honor of each of the 53 Koga Ryu families, in 2012, the year of Black Dragon, as a special edition. I stopped selling them because I decided to give them to my students who reach Godan as a special gift. There are only 51, since I kept one and the other I gave to a friend of mine as a present. But, yeah it all started with free classes in a public park and handbook written in notebook paper and copied on a copy machine. Grandmaster Kim gave me such an awesome review for the book description that it inspired me to write other things. Amazingly, Grandmaster Kim made a lot of my work possible by inspiring to set myself apart from the rest of the Ninjutsu community.
Warlock Asylum: I saw you made mention of developing a Cherokee martial style in a recent post on Facebook. This really sparked my interest. I am from Tuscaroran and Moorish roots. Can we expect to see you working to pioneer the emergence of a new martial form based on Native American principles?
Ron Collins: I don’t know if I’d call it a martial art. It’s more of a martial sport. When I learned it, it was a game. Wrestling basically, both players compete without shirts and start by grabbing each other’s upper arms. Then you try to off-balance, sweep or throw the other player. It’s not very codified and you basically play it two ways, the first is the first to hit the ground wins and then later, the first to pin the other down on the ground until they give up wins. There is no count.
I might add some boxing to it to, give it some self-defense application. But, no I won’t be pioneering a new martial art just reviving an old tradition. My grandfather, my mom’s father, was from North Carolina originally, so I have roots in North Carolina, including family on the Cherokee Reservation there. My first order will be getting it codified and then regulated, weight classes etc., which didn’t exist when I learned it as a kid, then comes getting tribal recognition before spreading as loosely codified sport. Traditionally, the Cherokee didn’t have martial arts, they had weapons. If you wanted to seriously hurt someone, you used a weapon. In fact, the whole doctrine of Roger’s Rangers was based on Cherokee fighting methods and was mainly weapon based.
Warlock Asylum: In some of your essays, appearing on the Black Dragon Ninjitsu blog page, you express quite a bit of outrage towards the Bujinkan, even calling it a cult. I know some people who have found great benefit being a part of this organization. What is it exactly that you find distasteful about the Bujinkan?
Ron Collins: It’s not so much outrage as it is disgust. When it comes to what I find distasteful, it is mainly the attitudes. There is too much “hero worship” and no one asking questions! Too many conflicting claims and stories! Then there is Hatsumi, whom I find to be a joke. Hatsumi claims he didn’t like Karate, Bujinkan members bash on Karate. But, how many could fight a Karateka in a full contact match, or even in a street fight? How about a Judoka? They even harassed the Kuki family into taking down their English site because it conflicted with claims made by Takamatsu.
Is it really necessary to harassed and called out by other people as frauds? It is simply my experience that when you look at the facts, Takamatsu made up all but two of his nine schools and was never a Soke in Kukishin Ryu. He did not have the Kuki family’s permission to declare himself Soke of their tradition. I find this unquestioning acceptance of wild tales that are passed off as legitimate history to be bad enough but , to go so far as to slander others for committing the very same wrongs your founder is guilty of is completely distasteful.
I also have issues with some of the techniques but, my chief complaint is the attitude. Ninjas are big business in the West and even Takamatsu’s own friend stated in the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten that Takamatsu used the openly available documents on Ninjutsu to create his Togakure Ryu Ninpo. How is it that Takamatsu can invent a martial art out of something that wasn’t a martial art & spin wild tells about his life but no one else can? It’s not what he claims but that it must be accepted as gospel truth. Speaking gospel, you have the beginning Shinto ritual for worship of bowing, speaking a mantra, and clapping to deify Takamatsu. I don’t like being forced or required to take part in other religious ceremonies. I don’t require others to pray to my God and I don’t like being required to pray to another’s. Then there is the attempt to slander everyone’s names associated with Ninjutsu, to claim to be the only true source of Ninjitsu. Even the name Bujinkan means Hall of the Warrior God, because Hatsumi thought Takamatsu was a divine being.
I think there are some great guys in the Bujinkan. I don’t want to paint them all with a broad brush. There is some buyer beware involved there though. Ultimately, I just think people need to hear both sides of the story. Trying to make me out to be a monster hasn’t stopped me from teaching or selling books. I doubt anything I say will keep people who want to train in the Bujinkan from training in the Bujinkan. Nor is it my point to try to do so. I want to make sure both sides of story get out there. People believe what they wish to believe because they wish to believe it.
Beyond that, when I was in the Bujinkan, we spent more time talking about how other arts sucked. You know it’s funny if a Karate or Tae Kwon Do instructor teaches someone how to kick a gun out of someone’s hands. It’s a fantasy martial art but, when Hatsumi does it they make excuses to justify it.
Warlock Asylum: What can we expect to hear from Ron Collins in the future? Do you have any projects on the horizon?
Ron Collins: I don’t know. I’m going to get to start working on a Black Dragon Ninjitsu Home study course. It takes a student up to 1st Kyu and requires a 3 day boot-camp to get to Shodan. Already have the land for the camp. I just need to build on it. Beyond that, who knows! I’m hoping to expand on what I’m doing with Shadow Warrior Publishing. may reopen my dojo and maybe even a “boot camp” for survivalists. I have no idea what the future will bring, but I’m excited to find out myself.
Warlock Asylum: What advice would you give to our youth, who are seeking to enter the world of martial arts?
Ron Collins: Don’t give up and don’t limit yourself to someone else’s vision. Martial arts are a gateway to learning about improving yourself. You don’t need belts or rank certificates to get value out of martial arts. It’s all about finding your way, literally finding your path. For some of you, it will be found through martial arts. For others, it will be drawing, painting or music. Just remember the art is about self-expression and self-empowerment not subjugating yourself to another person’s vision of who you should be. And if you don’t know who you are, that is fine… you don’t need to be put into a box until you’re done living. So just live your life and enjoy the struggle, It’s all a part of the adventure.
Warlock Asylum: How has your journey affected some of your personal and family relationships?
Ron Collins: One of the most valuable things is to know who your friends are. I can honestly say I have truly been blessed to have some truly great friends, Grandmaster Ashida Kim among them. The entire Black Dragon Fighting Society is an awesome bunch of people. The people closer to me who have been there are still a blessing. I feel blessed to have good people in my life and to have some of the fake friends and toxic people weeded out. I know not everyone believes as I do, and well if you don’t cool… trust in whatever higher power or powers you have. For me it’s Yahweh/Jehovah, God.
Warlock Asylum: On behalf of the Art of Ninzuwu blog page, I would like to express my deepest thanks for taking the time to share some of your insights with us. Do you have any final thoughts that you would like to express with our readers and practitioners of the Art of Ninzuwu?
Ron Collins: Well let me begin by saying you are welcome, I enjoyed our little chat. My parting thought? Enjoy the adventure! We don’t know where life can and will lead us. All you have to do is set your mind to it. Learn to enjoy your struggle and the hardships you face. Keep pushing! Keep trying!
If there is something that I want to leave with people is the idea that you can do anything! You don’t need special training, or someone else to tell you that you can do it. All that comes later but, in your mind you have to make that decision you can do anything. Enjoy life! It’s too short to spend all your time worrying about other people’s opinions and drama. You reflect what’s around you and you have the power to choose what and who you surround yourself with. You set your own limits!