MARCH / 2016


My name is Eddie Morales and welcomed to Online Martial Arts Magazine. I am always in search of interesting stories and people in regards to interviews on Online Magazine. My mission is and always will be, to give credit to all those martial artist that have dedicated themselves to the arts. Martial Artist that as a result of their dedication, have made changes in there lives and the lives of those around them. I want to introduce to you a person that has done exactly that. He began his Martial Arts journey back in a time when the training was tough and your choices were, quit or keep moving forward. Those that continued training would reap the rewards of their hard work by rising to a higher level of understanding in their chosen art. Those are the exceptional individuals that would eventually reach the rank and title of 1st degree black belt. A rank and title which meant something back then. The Martial Artist I am speaking of is, John Crudup. While doing my research on his background in Martial Arts I was impressed with my findings. As I researched for this interview I spoke to many people and the consensus was that Mr. Crudup was humble and dedicated to his art. Crudup is not only dedicated to his own life and training but has equally helped others past and present throughout his journey. John Crudup is a man of character, determination and is the personification of the Code of Honor. A code which at times seems to be lost in the Martial Arts world. We here at are honored that he accepted this interview and hope you enjoy reading about his life.


Interview by Eddie Morales

Online Magazine
 Where were you born and raised?


JOHN CRUDUP: I was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. What is your current occupation?


JOHN CRUDUP: I enjoyed a 26 year career in the United States Air Force. I retired as a Chief Master Sergeant in 2009 and currently work as a Wage & Hour Investigator for the United States Department of Labor.

 When and where did you begin your Martial Arts training and what was your motivation?


JOHN CRUDUP: I formally began my training in 1971 under the direction of Sensei Ernest Paramore in the art of Shotokan Karate-Do. My motivation at that time was heavily influenced by Bruce Lee. Of course I watched the Green Hornet series as a child and was fascinated by the character Kato. But it wasn’t until 1971 when I became a paperboy for the Philadelphia Bulletin and our branch manager happened to be a karate instructor and offered free classes to all the paperboys as a way to defend ourselves in the event someone would try to take our money.




 Did you compete in tournaments and if yes, are there any changes that you see from past vs present?


JOHN CRUDUP: Yes, I competed in tournaments. When I began competing, we didn’t use any safety equipment. I believe Jhoon Rhee came out with the safety gear around 1975. I never really liked wearing the safety gear. The techniques seemed much more precise without the safety equipment. There are many techniques used in tournaments today that are counted as points that wouldn’t be counted back in the 1970s. I believe that the competitors today are probably more athletic than the competitors of the past. Competition today relies very heavily on speed, not necessarily great technique. Of course, I am generalizing. Every generation produces great competitors and the sport continues to evolve. Most people, like myself prefer the generation that they grew up in.

 What are some of the most successful techniques, which you have used in tournament competition?


JOHN CRUDUP: I was best known for my kicking ability. My favorite techniques was various combinations off the hook-round kick. You were involved in the kickboxing arena. What was the motivation behind your involvement?


JOHN CRUDUP: I began kickboxing in 1980 because I was seeking something a bit more challenging. I became somewhat complacent with point fighting. I got tired of dealing with constant rule changes, poor judging, and disqualifications for light facial contact. I wanted to test myself with something more challenging and earn a little extra money as well. The PKA was pretty popular at that time and the fights were televised on ESPN. My career was cut short when I enlisted in the Air Force in 1983.


 Who has been your greatest influence throughout your life in regards to Martial Arts and life in general?


JOHN CRUDUP: Of course my earliest influence was Bruce Lee. He was a phenomenal martial artist and philosopher. He was years ahead of his time and could be considered the father of mixed martial arts. His philosophy was to “absorb what is useful, and discard what is not.” He was not confined or restricted by styles or systems. I still adhere to many of his philosophical precepts. There are many other martial artists that I have admired and been influenced by throughout the years. Some of them include Dr. Moses Powell, William Oliver and Byong Yu. You mentioned three names as people that influenced you. Dr. Moses Powell, William Oliver and Byong Yu. Can you tell us about each individuals influence or what they had that retained your attention?


JOHN CRUDUP: I will start with Master Byong Yong Yu first. My initial attraction to Byong Yu was the mere fact that a Korean frequently competed in open tournaments. In my early years of study, there was a mysticism that Asians were somehow inherently superior in martial arts than other races. Everyone wanted to train under a Japanese or Korean. There were many great Japanese and Korean instructors that came to the States in the 1960s and built successful programs and produced many champion competitors. The Japanese and Korean Masters performed demonstrations of kata, self-defense and breaking, but it was rare to see them actually compete. Byong Yu was a great fighter possessing tremendous heart and phenomenal jumping and kicking ability. He fought all the best fighters of his generation. Master Yu had very humble beginnings and was treated well when he arrived in the States. He was even homeless for a period of time. He turned tragedy to triumph and is an example that we can achieve anything if we are willing to work hard.

Master William Oliver was a triple threat. He was great in kata, weapons and kumite. His technique was flawless. I would rate Master Oliver pound for pound one of the best I’ve ever seen. The documentary “Fighting Black Kings” shows a young Oliver traveling to Japan to compete in Oyama’s Kyokushinkai tournament. Master Oliver’s performance demonstrated that a young man from the hood could compete on the world stage and standout among the best. Master Oliver was also a very humble, soft spoken man. He let his skills do the talking.


Lastly, what I remember most about Dr. Moses Powell was seeing him perform at Madison Square Garden at Aaron Banks’ Oriental World of Self-Defense in 1975. Dr. Powell moved unlike anyone I had seen before. He was not a small man, but he moved with a grace and smoothness that literally was like flowing water. Of course, who can forget the one finger rollout? His style of Sanuces Ryu Jiu-Jitsu was based on simplicity and survival. What I remember most about Dr. Powell was his saying, “I saw a guy with a machete and he placed it to his neck and made it bend, that’s cool man, but I want to know, can he fight?” To this day that is the question that I always ask when I see someone perform a kata or demonstration … Can he fight?



 In your opinion, what defines a good Martial Arts practitioner?


JOHN CRUDUP: A good martial arts practitioner understands that martial arts is much more than just kicking and punching. A good practitioner must train the mind, body and spirit. Sheer ability is not enough; philosophizing is inadequate; and without a spiritual connection to something greater than oneself, the journey is meaningless. In your opinion, what are the characteristics of a good instructor?


JOHN CRUDUP: A good instructor must be more than just technically competent. To be a good instructor, you need patience, love, understanding and a true desire to share your knowledge with others. You need to know when to push and when to pull; when to reprimand and when to console. A good instructor understands psychology, knows how to motivate and employs different teaching strategies to cater to different learning needs.

 Do you have any long or short-term goals in regards to Martial Arts or life in general?


JOHN CRUDUP: I have achieved more in life than I have ever expected. I am happy. I am at peace. My goal is to wake up each morning and make a difference and help those in need. There is no short or long for me; there’s only 1,440. My friend, Soke Haisan Kaleak asked, what is the significance of 1,440? I replied, there are 1,440 minutes in a day. What you choose to do with those minutes is up to you. What do you feel is your greatest personal achievement in life?


JOHN CRUDUP: I don’t spend much time reflecting on past achievements. I spend more time thinking about how I can help others achieve their personal goals and desires. I do believe that it’s better to give than to receive, but it always seems that the more I give, the more I seem to get in return. My life has been a blessing.
 What are your thoughts on the practice of Kata (Pre-arranged Movements)?


JOHN CRUDUP: I have a better appreciation of Kata at this point in my life. As a young practitioner, I simply learned kata to get promoted to the next rank. I didn’t feel that kata contributed anything to my ability to fight and at the end of the day, fighting was all that mattered in my early years. To a great extent, it remains true that you don’t need kata to be a good sport competitor, but you do need kata to understand the essence of karate.
 Many athletes believe in cross training, what are your thoughts on this?


JOHN CRUDUP: I believe cross training is a good thing; however, each individual much choose his or her own path. There has always been a debate whether it is better to spend a lifetime trying to master one martial art or exposing oneself to many arts. I guess the answer lies in what the person is seeking. If they want to be a MMA fighter, then cross training is essential. If the person is seeking martial arts as a means self-defense, then exposure to various systems may be beneficial. If the person wishes to master one art, they may spend a lifetime in doing so. Reflecting on your life, do you feel that Martial Arts has given you a positive outlook and if yes or no, why?


JOHN CRUDUP: Martial arts has given me a tremendously positive outlook on life. I truly believe that anything is possible. My martial arts training gave me the discipline required to achieve the highest enlisted grade in the military, a master’s degree in human resource management, and so many other accomplishments that I would have never dreamt of as a child. My martial arts training keeps me humble; always listening, learning and growing. What would you say to someone that wants to learn Martial Arts but for whatever reason is not sure?


JOHN CRUDUP: I would advise them to be patient in choosing a school or instructor. Do some research, sit in on a few classes, and watch how the instructor interacts with the students. Look for an instructor that has technical competence and cares about his/her students. Understand that martial arts training will help you in all aspects of your life. Your physical conditioning will improve, your mental focus will sharpen and your self-confidence will grow. It is a decision that will change your life for the better. What can a person that knows nothing of the martial arts expect to learn when they enter your Dojo (school)?


JOHN CRUDUP: I do not currently run a martial arts school. I do offer my assistance to others who teach in churches, recreation centers and commercial schools. I always suggest that they take a personal interest in their students. Show them that you care about them as human beings. Find out about their interests. Find out what kind of grades children are getting in school. Teach traditional values like loyalty and integrity. Teach students to seek excellence, not only in techniques, but in character. There was a time when the master choose the student when the master thought the student was worthy. Today students choose the master. Students today are customers or clients and sometimes seem to dictate the terms of the training. Never compromise the integrity of your martial arts program to pay the rent. What age do you think is best to begin Martial Arts training?


JOHN CRUDUP: I’m not sure that there is a best age to begin martial arts training. I do know that children seem to be enrolling in classes at much younger ages than in the past. Part of this may be due to the commercialization of martial arts. I believe many schools are finding it more and more difficult to attract adult students and offer programs to 4 and 5 year old children. Some of these children earn their black belts by age 7 or 8 years old. And many of these children become very good performers. Martial arts can teach these children discipline and concentration that allows them to focus more in school to improve grades and behavioral issues. Martial arts helps children in developing motor skills, mental and physical conditioning, flexibility as well as many other tangible and intangible benefits. I would rather see a young child practicing martial arts than glued to the television or video games. As the child matures, he or her understanding and appreciation of martial arts will also mature. So in essence, I am happy to see 4 and 5 year olds practicing martial arts. My last question for this interview is, what are your thoughts on teenagers having 5th, 6th and 7th degrees in ranking?


JOHN CRUDUP: Rank is a very controversial topic. I don’t know how it is possible to have such high degrees at such a young age. Today many children start training at 5 and 6 years old. Technically they may be able to meet the requirements of each grade to progress, but can they really defend themselves at such a young age? Do they have the maturity to go along with the responsibility of each Dan grade? Will they quit or find another school if their instructor will not promote them? These are questions that each instructor or organization must address. High rank should be tied to high responsibility, not so much to learning another kata, breaking more bricks or winning more trophies. High rank should be connected to building schools, programs, institutions and communities. These are things that teenagers do not yet possess the maturity to accomplish. Teenagers should focus on building themselves (lower Dan grades). Higher Dan grades should focus on building others. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with our readers. We here at wish you much success in all your future endeavors.