View Full Version : Bruce Tegner

12th January 2007, 10:47
I was unsure where to post this as it did not seem to fit anywhere, but I think the Gendai forum is the most suitable.

I am currently doing some reading for a paper I am putting together and have been reintroduced to the work of Bruce Tegner.

I feel that Mr Tegners contribution to the martial arts, particularly to MA in 'the west', is seriously under-stated and perhaps under-appreciated.

Bruce Tegner was born in 1929 and passed away in 1985, but not before creating his own Gendai system, which he called Jukado, teaching a handful of celebrities of the era and writing a number of books.
Much of what Mr Tegner wrote is still relevant as today as it was when he wrote it. Tegner was a martial arts realist and much of what he wrote reflected this.

I feel that any article on the history of martial arts in the USA, or even 'the west' in general, that fails to mention Bruce Tegner's contribution is at best overlooking a significant piece of history.

Anyway these are my thoughts on this friday night, some might say I am procrastinating from doing my paper, others might say I am giving credit to a legend of the past, who perhaps does not get as much as he is due.

For more on Bruce Tegner visit these sights:



Joseph Svinth
13th January 2007, 03:27
For a blast from the past, see also


Brian Owens
13th January 2007, 03:59
I felt that Bruce Tegner's books were a waste of paper -- over-simplified "pap" for the masses. But they were popular, and if they got people interested enough to find their ways to dojo, then maybe they served a purpose.

In addition to his books and his "studio," he also served as an action/stunt coordinator on some movies and TV series, and even did a little acting himself.

Interesting guy.

13th January 2007, 10:08
Hahaha personally I tend to agree with your thoughts on his books!

However they do contain some useful 'pap' here and there and in part the beauty of them is in their simplicity in my opinion.

I also agree that he was an interesting guy, he seemed like quite a character, an enterprising character at that! He seemed to have his finger in many pies so to speak.

I think that a lot of information in a lot of the books of that era is 'pap'. Could say the same for todays books hahaha! I think the interesting thing with this guy is his place in history and the fact that he seems to have been omitted or perhaps overlooked.

Do you think I am correct in saying he rubbed folk up the wrong way?
Or perhaps he irritated a few of the key players at the time?
I have read that his association with certain celebrities, and their promotion to Jukado black belts, did not do much for his credibility. Although apparrently they did grade legitimately! Judging by his books his system does not seem overly detailed or sophisticated so it is quite possibl ethat this is true.

I must admit he has me a bit intrigued!

13th January 2007, 19:09
When my father--who was in Darby's Rangers and taught hand to hand combat for the last few months of the war--began teaching me unarmed combat in 1971 I went to the library to find some books on the subject.
The only martial arts books which looked anything like what I was learning was from Bruce Tegner--especially his 21 day lesson volume.
In the terms of self defense I find Mr. Tegner to be a pioneer of the short term solution of teaching simple defenses that are applicable for types of attacks as opposed to a different technique for many specific attacks.
If anything was lacking--IMHO--is that Tegner did not stress a more brutal mental attitude for combat and for leaving out the testicles as a legitamite target for self defense.
Notice that I say self defense as opposed to martial arts, since I see the two as similar but not identical.

Matthew Temkin

13th January 2007, 21:40
It seems that Tegners writings on self defense were strongly influenced by the common mentality of the time, which makes me think that his focus was perhaps more on the common public in scuffles than soldiers or those interested in surviving a life or death struggle.

The testicles as a target is an excellent example of that. Although he does say that men instinctively protect the area it seems that he does not favour this as a target more due to the fact that he considers the target to be 'repugnant' and likely to result in 'sexual counterviolence'. This possibly reflects a common attaitude of the time and, therefore I concude that he was trying to appeal to the masses.

I agree that he was certainly a pioneer, however it is hard to know what exactly he was trying to get at.

7th March 2007, 00:32
Hello gentleman, My name is Bob Rosenbaum and I was a student of, And a black belt in jukado from Bruce Tegner.

First from Dale, ""I agree that he was certainly a pioneer, however it is hard to know what exactly he was trying to get at.""

Bruce was trying to introduce martial arts to the general public, Who in that era thought that to be a black belt was to be a killing machine, And some kind of superman, And during this period those teaching expected their students to devote their lives to martial arts and their instructor, Bruce wanted to make martial arts as accessible to the general public as was tennis or golf or swimming, something that was both fun and useful, Bruce's goal was not to train masters, But the average person who was denied the right to train at a non disciple level. Bruce's books, where aimed at those who did not have the opportunity to train at the level that was right for them.

And as far as the controversy over the black belt "given" to Rick Nelson in the sport/art of karate, NOTHING WAS GIVEN TO RICK. Rick Nelson trained with private lessons (I think two nights a week) after the school closed for the night, And an occasional group class, And earned his tournament points in our inner school sparring competitions, The tests for all of our belt test were written out and Rick was given no special favors, And as one of Bruce's assistant instructors I helped teach Rick on occasion, (Meaning I was a punching bag, Throwing and twisting dummy) Rick Nelson for that era was a GOOD black belt, I sparred Rick on a few occasions, And Rick was much better than I was.

As far as the verity of subjects of Bruce's books, Bruce's training was in the judo/jiu jitsu training of the time, This was before the era of specialization, The old training included the strikes and kicks of atami waza and yawara, Think of karate, The holds and locks of jiu jitsu, and the throws, Falls, Holds and locks of judo, Plus Bruce thought out of the box, He was not tied to any one method, But could see a fight in it's totality, The same as another Bruce would do a few years later, Hint this mans initials were Bruce Lee.

And as far as the value of Bruce's books, The value of anything is in the eye of those using the book, If you feel his books have no value then for you they don't, But to this day there are those that appreciate his books.

7th March 2007, 05:33
You know, I've always wondered about the books Bruce Tegner produced outside of his area of expertise such as Savate and the Chinese stuff. Do you know what his sources were for that kind of material?

7th March 2007, 07:38
Thankyou Mr Rosenbaum,
It is nice to hear from someone who actually knew the guy and his methods.
I thank you for the insights into his life and his thinking. I find it quite interesting from a historical perspective.

Thank you,

7th March 2007, 15:54
It is easy to critisize events in the past, but without
proper persective, much of the nuance is lost.

If you look at any book of that era, you might find
objectional material. Today we are much more sophisticated
due to the media and internet. It is easy to make snap judgements.

IMO, Tegner was ahead of his time. He knew stuff people of that
time had no access to. He made it accessible. Just as an animal
in the zoo introduces you to the wild. It may not really wild at all.
Whether you think what he did was "real karate" or not, it served
a purpose. It introduced karate to the Western world.

8th March 2007, 06:38

Mr. Walker: The 2 books you mention, The kung fu and the aikido books, While using his name were written by individuals with rank in those subjects, The aikido book was written by a gentleman named Augusto Lodi who was an aikido Black Belt from South America, Who met and became friends with Bruce, He used Bruce's school to teach an aikido class for his student's, And allowed any of Bruce's students to train, The book was written in Bruce's name because Bruce was a known name while Mr. Lodi was not. Mr. Lodi passed away from a hart attack while teaching a class at the school, He was a soft spoken, Very nice man. As for the kung fu book, The man writing the kung fu book was a student, And friend of Bruce's named Dr. Val Christensen, Who after training with Bruce wanted to learn kung fu, As in those days there was NO information on kung fu, Dr. Christensen trained with Ark Wong in Hollywood Ca. After gaining rank with Mr. Wong, Dr. Christensen suggested to Bruce that they do a book on kung fu, While I can't guarantee that this was the first book mass produced on kung fu, It might have been, And again, It was just meant to shed some light on something that was at that time still super secret.
As for Savate, Bruce spent some time in Canada studying with some Canadian savate instructors, While Bruce was not a master of Savate he saw things in savate that were useful to ALL martial artist's and wanted to share them.

8th March 2007, 15:05
I agree with Mr. Baldonade. It is easy to look back and criticize, but back then American books were few and far between. I can't criticize a person for wanting to spread as much knowledge as possible. While there may be some techniques that are now known to be incorrect or shown incorrectly in the books, one has to remember karate or martial arts was still in it's infancy back then.
I have one of his books and if the opportunity arises would pick up more. If at a minimum as a personal collection piece.

8th March 2007, 18:23
Mr. Rosenbaum, thank you that clears up a nagging question that had been hanging out in the back of my head for some time.

It reminds me that a LA old timer once told me that Tegner's gym/studio/dojo was the one place any out of town martial artist would make sure to visit back in the day.

paul browne
10th March 2007, 18:26
Slightly off topic,
For me, even if he did nothing else Mr. Tegner was involved in what for me is the finest Budo movie ever made, 'Bad Day At Black Rock.'
This film has a credible, flawed hero who displays dignity, courage, self reliance, devotion to justice and (of course) martial ability. Furthermore the hero's intention isn't to 'take out' the baddies, just report them to the authorities and get on with his life.
Imagine if that film was made now, with Seagal, Van Damme et al!!
Any way just my penny worth.

11th March 2007, 00:35
I am sure Mr. Tegner, in his prime, could hold his own
with many of todays karate-ka.

Just as some of the original movies are still superior
to the modern re-creations. Yes we have better
technology now, but sometimes it's the little
nuances that make it superior.