There has been a great void left in ninjutsu with the passing of Professor Ronald Duncan, a void which will never be filled. The likes of Prof. Duncan will never come around again. I considered him a mentor and looked for his guidance many times in the formulation of this blog.
This picture is one of my favorite pictures of Prof. Duncan. My father named me Barron which means “Noble Warrior”. I have tried to live up to that name and its meaning. But Prof. Duncan embodied a “Noble Warrior” a Marine, a martial artist and a gentleman, he had a look and an air of nobility not just physically but in his character as well.
His very distinctive voice set him aside from others. There was no mistaking his voice for someone elses. When he called me on the phone and said hello I knew immediately who it was he never had to say his name his unique voice always gave him away. I think he could have been a radio personality with that distinctively, unmistakable great voice of his.
I cannot help be feel great sorrow that I will never hear his wonderful strong voice again but it will resonate thru my heart and mind for the rest of my days as I am sure it will for many others as well. He often would counsel me on different situations. His insights that he shared will continue to guide me. His voice speaks even more strongly to me now than ever before. It echoes, it resonates with the things he shared and said.
I have thought how do I pay tribute and remember Prof. Duncan and what he has done. He has accomplished so much not just as a martial artist but as a human being. I choose to remember how he lived, taught and shared.
Ronald Duncan went on to serve in the United States Marine Corp where he was a member of the USMC Judo team and earned one of his earliest black belt rankings. Professor Duncan went on to earn a black belt in several other disciplines such as Hakko Ryu Jujitsu, Dai-nippon Jujitsu Ryu, Sosuishi Ryu, Kin Dai Gakko Ryu, Aikido, Aiki-Jujitsu, Kempo, Kobujitsu (weaponry), and Shinobino-jitsu (popularly known as Ninjitsu). His teachers were all legendary men; Charlie Neal, Ernie Cates, Naraki Hara, Tatsuo Uzaki, and Don Draeger.Evolving into such a versatile practitioner of the martial arts, it is highly and widely known he was the first to practice and teach Ninjutsu in the states in the 60’s and 70’s before the ninja craze hit America in the 80's and 90's. Students from his school had great success on the tournament circuits of those days and he had already had series of articles published in the martial art magazines of the day. Professor Ronald Duncan became the first non-oriental to be publically recognized in "Official Karate" magazine as a master of martial arts weaponry.
For many years to come, Professor Duncan would thrill audiences around the world with spectacular demonstrations that would include vast assortments of traditional and non traditional weapons. Ronald Duncan was also the first to be shown catching live arrows with his bare hands on nationally televised programs such as "Thrill Seekers" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72tbio78jAQ, and ABC’s "Wide World of Sports" where he was acknowledged as the “Father of American Ninjutsu”.
Ronald Duncan has taught Special Troops, Navy S.E.A.L. Teams, law enforcement agencies, and various government agenc ies in foreign countries. Professor Duncan has not neglected modern weaponry. He is also a certified expert in firearms, and competition shooting with over 200 competition shooting awards. Having such knowledge in firearms, Professor Duncan is quite proficient in combative and gun disarming tactics.
Professor Duncan has a 6 volume Aikijujutsu instructional series and a single volume dvd on koga ryu ninjutsu available on dvd. http://espytv.com/aiki.htm
Since the establishment of his Way of the Winds™ System http://www.wayofthewinds.com/ , schools internationally are affiliated with him. He has taught in Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Panama, England and South Africa. He has also been involved with the blind, physically handicapped, and homeless inner-city youth.
Ronald Duncan is a recipient of numerous Hall of Fame awards and honors including the Professional Karate Federation in 1977, Turtull Hall of Fame in 1981, Marine Martial Arts Federation, Hall of Fame Charter Life Member in 1997, Martial Arts Masters, Pioneers & Legends Hall of Fame 1997, Tribute to the Greatest Masters of the Twentieth Century Hall of Fame (sponsored by Wesley Snipes) in 1998, and The World Head of Family Sokeship Council Hall of Fame 1999, and AFMA Hall of Fame 2000.
On Sunday, Januaury 20th,2007 at 7pm before a capacity crowd a Tribute to Grand Master Ronald Duncan was held. The Madison Square Garden Hall of Fame inductions New York City N. Y. hosted by Grand Master Aaron Banks the creator of The Oriental World of Self Defense shows and World Professional Martial Arts Organization, honored Grand Master Ronald Duncan for introducing Ninjitsu and other Martial Arts to the Western World thru this venue in 1969. The event was attended by some of the world's leading exponents of Martial and fight sciences including world boxing champions honoring Grand Master Ronald Duncan.
On June 13th, 2007 in Brooklyn N.Y. Grand Master Ronald Duncan received a Pioneering award for 50 years teaching the legendary practices of Ninjitsu and various martial arts in America. In November of 2007, Prof. Duncan was inducted to the International Association of Martial Artists Hall of Fame 2007.
Prof. Duncan was the first to practice and teach Ninjutsu in the states beginning in the 60’s before the ninja craze hit America in the 80's and 90's. Today, Professor Ronald Duncan is often acknowleged as the ”Father of American Ninjutsu” . There was a time when Ninjutsu was not being practiced publicly in this country but Ronald Duncan was one of a few individuals who dared to seek out and study the arts of the ninja. Since then, other ninjutsu practitioners and schools have emerged.
In Black belt Magazine, January 2011 issue, backed up the fact that O’Sensei Duncan was indeed the first to teach Ninjutsu in the U.S. Black belt commemorated their 50 years of publication in a 5 part series of articles in which they list the highlights from the martial arts world during Black Belt's first half century.
Part 1 started off with a look back to the sixties listed as one of the milestones of martial arts in the sixties Black Belt gave mention to Prof. Ronald Duncan, and specifically stating that in 1964 "Ronald Duncan was teaching ninjutsu in New York"
If anyone would like to share some of thier memories or just simply would like to say something about O'Sensei to post in this memorium please feel free to contact me on facebook and I will gladly add your comments. http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/barron.shepherd
"Ron Duncan was and is a quiet, humble, polite, and extremely hard working martial artist of great ability. He cross- trained constantly. He took advice from everyone and I never heard him criticize anyone. I’m proud of the fact that I was influential in his learning process”.
“Sensei Ron Duncan studied judo, jujitsu and knife with me for 2 years. 1957-1959. He was an excellent martial arts student. He was in the same group of students at my dojo in Jacksonville, NC as Don Nagle, Jim Giles, Don Bohan, Rick Nemura, Bryan "Chick" Burk, Howard George-1960 Greco Roman Wrestling Olympic Champion. Pat Barris (who I taught from age 8-10 when he moved to the West Coast, Barris was twice Pan Am Judo Champion. All became famous in martial arts history. Ron Duncan is a pioneer in ninja history weaponry and tactics. "- Ernie Cates
“He is a nidan in the American Karate Federation, a shodan in the American Judo and Ju-Jitsu Federation, a Shomokoroku in the Nippon Sosuishiryu Ju-Jitsukai, a godan in the Hakkoryu Ju-Jutsu Federation, and, although he doesn't call himself a Master of Ninjitsu, he's about the only one. Ronald Duncan is a man of many titles, but all deservedly earned and backed up by a multitude of talents; almost as many as the amount of weapons he is master of.”-Official Karate Magazine August, 1971
"Ninjutsu is the art of Japans ninja warriors. It grew during the nations feudal period (13th to 17th century), when missions of espionage and assassination were often carried out against warlords. In the 1970s and 80s, ninjutsu was popularized in the West by Ronald Duncan, Stephen K. Hayes and Masaaki Hatsumi."-Black belt magazine.com
"A marine veteran Professor Duncan was one of the First Marines back from oversea’s in the early 1950’s and returned with his skills (Nin-jitsu/Martial Arts) to Camp Lejeune, NC where Don Nagle (Isshinryu Karate), and Ernie Cates (Judo) also had based at the same time. For his great Accomplishments Duncan is inducted to the IAMA Hall of Fame 2007."-Grand Master Gary Alexander
"He has 50 years experience and I want to have a picture of how he started his career in the racially charged years of the 1950s. Master Duncan has been a consistent, persistent presence on the martial arts scene. His knowledge of weapons and ninja practices are legend and he remains active as an instructor. I interviewed Master Ronald Duncan while I was out there. For me that was highlight of the trip. He was someone I had always wanted to meet."-Floyd Webb “The Search for Count Dante” a documentary film