In 2009, a shocking video from December 13, 1984, surfaced online and went viral. Mockingly titled "Jesus Taught Me," the six-minute film was first posted on a now-shuttered YouTube channel called "bobbyjoeblythe007." It's the most disturbing dojo storm ever caught on tape.
The video shows a man being brutally beaten at a karate dojo in Dumfries, Virginia, owned by Bobby Joe Blythe—a 6th degree black belt at the time. The incident began when a homeless man entered a dojo to demonstrate and teach his moves. The video starts with a blatantly sarcastic introduction of the man by the dojo owner, who mocks the man’s mentally ill claims of being a tenth-degree red belt and a student of Jesus Christ.
After the demonstration begins, the mentally challenged man is heard telling his sparring partner— a black belt student of Blythe and a Marine named Willie J. Dennis— to stand still, as he will only demonstrate around him and not on him. The man is even heard saying: “I just wish to teach you. I don’t wish to hurt you”.
Unfortunately, it was obvious that the group never intended to actually allow him to demonstrate his abilities and the Marine lunged into an attack at the first opportunity. The man obviously did not want to engage in a fight, telling Dennis, “don’t do that anymore” and “I am not a fighter.”
Surprisingly, the mentally ill man not only holds his own against the black belt he’s up against, but bests the karate practitioner to the point where he begins to fight dirty. After grabbing onto the man, the Marine takes him down and inflicts several ruthless blows— including head-stomps—even after the homeless man pleads with him to stop and congratulates him on a job well done.
The video ends in chilling fashion— with the unconscious man being dragged out of the dojo and a trail of blood left behind.
The Awful Beating:
The grizzly scene is deeply angering and disturbing. After the video went viral, there were rumors that the homeless man had passed away as a result of the beating. Online viewers called for justice.
Mercifully, Chuck Feldbush, a now-retired Prince William police detective, saw the man in the days after the incident and noticed him limping.
"You could tell he had been beaten severely," said Feldbush to the Washington Post. "He wasn't very cooperative and didn't want to pursue charges."
Feldbush said the man was a vagrant who lived in the woods near the dojo. The man occasionally was the target of a nuisance call, someone who would sometimes try to take food off people's plate at the Pizza Hut or steal just enough to get caught so he could spend some time in jail, where he would be guaranteed a roof and meals.
Here's the description of the video from Blythe on YouTube before he pulled it down:
"This dummy was in my shopping center while I was on a bodyguard job in Washington, DC. This guy was in the Pizza Hut eating pizza off the plates of others and the Pizza Hut Manager ran him out with a pistol. Later the very same day, police officers were called to remove him from a nearby pharmacy after having been caught reaching into customers' purses. A short time after that, he visited a NAPA Auto Parts store next to my Karate dojo and told the management he planned on teaching in that dojo and that Jesus taught him.
"The NAPA guys told him he was confused (their polite way of warning the man against such action), but not wanting to miss a show, they told the man they would close early just to watch and that he must not know the owner, which is nobody to play with. Needless to say, the police pulled him out of the dumpster behind my Karate dojo where he was neatly placed. Semper Fi to all my Marine brothers. The karate student in the white is also a Marine Sgt. and a brand new black belt. Never get stupid with a Marine, you could get jacked up and have your clock stopped."
As indicated by other videos, also taken down, what happened was not an anomaly, but rather in keeping with the ethos at the dojo.
Blythe Babbling to His Unfortunate Black Belts:
“If they come through that door, it’s open season," orders Blythe. “I do what I want in my home. I do what I want in my place of business. ... Now, if a person wises off to you, just hit him. No questions asked. Hit him. Don’t explain your actions. Hit him. If any person touches you, in any way, he’s either a f****t or he’s stupid. Hit him.”
Blythe rants on in similar rambling, bigoted fashion, vowing for example to beat up any of his black belts that have an earring.
Blythe Terrifying Children:
If Blythe sounds like evil sensei John Kreese from The Karate Kid, well, he may in fact have been the inspiration for scriptwriter Robert Mark Kamen to create the Kreese character. However, that's another story.
The homeless man was reported missing two weeks after the incident and his name and whereabouts today remain unknown. There have been a number of efforts to identify him, and bring justice in the case, but none have been successful. One of them, a FaceBook page titled Justice 4 Kung Fu Guy, has not had a post in years.
Bobby Joe Blythe currently resides in Hanford, California. He stopped teaching karate, and became a pilot. His efforts as a pilot appear to parallel his record in martial arts, the main difference being the victim was now himself. Blythe is known to have crashed in 2003 and 2011, sustaining head injuries in both; the first time they were so severe he required an airlift. So maybe there is a little justice after all.
In sum, Blythe is a despicable human being, and a despicable martial arts instructor. And he serves as a stark warning, even to today.
It is unfortunately the nature of some martial arts studios that sensei/sifu/sabumnim/sir is held in unquestioning regard, and considered by students to be an authority on all things. If your instructor seems weird or off to you, it is in all likelihood not because martial arts is so esoteric that experts are hard to understand. It is in all likelihood because he or she is weird and off. Too often martial arts instructors get a pass, and that needs to change.