This page contains little known facts and tidbits about me (Rich) and Senshido. Only those close to me, my headquarters crew, those who were there and my international team, would know most of these - though I've been candid enough to share most of my life and stories with the public.
These can all be verified, some via archived documentations, some via the countless witnesses who were there, shared the experiences, etc.
In no particular order other than how I remembered them, hope you enjoy a little history straight from the Old G.
Tangent Redemptions of an Anti-Hero was my first fictional piece is actually heavily based on my life story. I began writing it for cathartic purposes and had no intention of turning it into a book but a book is what it turned into. And since it turned into a book I figured why the fuck not? Make a buck out of it. The Names, dates, events and certain places and locations have been changed and renamed for obvious reasons if you've read it. Now that you do know, don't contact me with any questions about it, I'm not answering any.
Montreal, Quebec gave birth to many talented fighters and martial artists, many who became world famous in their fields including world champion Kickboxer Jean Yves Theriault. When I first opened the Senshido school 0n April 11th, 1994 in the heart of downtown Montreal, there were already a half dozen martial arts schools within a 10 block radius. Fast forward a year later and there were now over 10 martial arts schools within that same 10 block radius including Tony Blauer's then Chu Fen Do school, Nigel Scantlebury's then ThaiJuPaKun (Now Thai JuJitsu) and Legendary Dog Brother and JKD instructor, Phil Gelinas. Fast forward to 2006 and only 4 remained, myself, Phil, Nigel and the Sil Lum Hung Gar school of Kung Fu I had originally started training with back in 1981, the rest had closed shop.
I trained and taught for Tony Blauer’s then Chu Fen Do school on Pare street in the industrial section of the town of Mount Royal from 1991 to 1993. The real reason for my departure was that I had learned what I needed to from him and needed to move on for my own mental health as I had about all I could take of having to endure the psychological, emotional and physical abuse the man put me, and countless others through during those 2 years.
Black Belt magazine contacted me at Senshido soon after the twin towers had fallen in NYC for an impromptu telephone interview referring me as one of the top names in my field. They wanted my input on the current events. One of the questions I was asked: “What would you have done had you been on one of those planes?” I replied “Eh…I would’ve died.” “But Mr. Dimitri, you’re an expert in your field of combatives…” “Yes, but I’m not a mind reader. I doubt the terrorists said to their hostages, all we have are box cutters and we’re going to crash these planes! I can only assume they lied, said they had bombs, asked everyone to comply, etc.” “Fair enough Mr. Dimitri, now that you know however, what would you do if the situation were to happen again?” “Eh…I’d die. Same scenario, I’m not the air marshal, I’m not Superman, still not a mind reader. I can't risk everyone on the plane to play the hero."
Needless to say, I was never printed, but several others were with their heroic Rambo wannabe fantasies on how they would have disarmed the terrorists and saved the day were it them on those planes, it was rather embarrassing. Funny thing is, I know some of them and the truth is, we’d all be crying like little bitches in our seats hoping for the best like everyone else.
When I was hunting for a name for my school, I originally wanted a Chinese one for Senshido as my roots were in Chinese martial arts as a kid, Bruce Lee, Kung Fu, Jackie Chan were my influences and I wanted to be cool, what? It was important that whatever language I chose, the translation, it had to be for “The Way of 1000 Masters” but that translated to Wong Fu Tien Tsi in Chinese and I didn’t want people thinking I was serving egg rolls and chow mein. So with the help of Randy Roth, one of my students and very close friend who owned a Japanese/English dictionary (no internet in those days) I opted for Japanese instead and thus Senshido was born. There was also Sen Shi Do, separated, which means, if I remember correctly now, “The way of 1000 Soldiers”
During the first 5 years of operating Senshido and due to my youth, outspokenness, and the fact that I was still relatively unknown at the time, we would get countless challenges at the school to which for the first few months I would take on myself. But then, to humiliate the challengers who were usually black belts or tournament circuit champions and the like, I would have my students with under 4 to 5 months of training with me literally, wipe the floor with the always completely stunned and defeated challengers.
I got so cocky from never having suffered anything remotely close to a loss, that we issued a $1000 dollar challenge to anyone in
Montreal who could beat not me, but any of my students to which the challenger can randomly pick out from any ongoing class of the day or week.
One challenger walked in during one of our women’s MMA class in 1996, a roughly 5 foot 9, 180 pound, self proclaimed double black belt, he literally picked the smallest, meekest looking young lady in the class who handed him his ass. He was literally laughed out by the entire class.
We never had to pay the 1000$. We never lost a single challenge match which eventually died out by the late nineties as our reputation had grown.
In the mid to late nineties, I made and sold Senshido Tactical Urban Combat bomber jackets. Sold loads of them and as my students were also my friends and we basically lived together at Senshido during those days, we all wore the jackets and unbeknownst to us, inadvertently looked enough of a new street gang to have enforcement check in on us and we were dubbed locally as the “Senshido Mafia” after Elvis Presley’s ‘Memphis Mafia’.
It was this cockiness that led me to ask the most experienced, most reputable fighters in my workshops worldwide, from 98 to 20017 to literally attack me and come at me full force, hold nothing back brother, with whatever they wanted, literally, pull no punches. Though no one was ever to take me down and I subdued every single one throughout my career (without naming any names as some ‘names’ ended up Shredded and weren’t very keen on it, and so as not to bruise any egos), this is where I sustained the vast amount of the injuries I contend with today including displaced vertebrae, crooked spinal cord and rib cage and a displaced shoulder.
In 2000, I founded the former Combat Coalition along with Sammy Franco of Contemporary Fighting Arts, Geoff Thompson, Peyton Quinn, Marc “Animal” MacYoung and Ian Hodgkinson aka Vampiro of WCW Wrestling fame. Though the group of us never worked as whole, Sammy, Marc, Ian and I held several successful Combat Coalition workshops between Canada and the US from 2000 to 2004 when it dissolved.
UK combatives instructor Geoff Thompson, author of watch my back, was the reason I had such a phenomenal turn out at my first ever UK workshop in London England as he not only welcomed me there but also previously referred to me as one of his favorite realists and urged everyone about my workshop that “If you’re to attend 1 workshop this year, go to Richard Dimitri’s, he’s one of my favorite realists.” He gave me permission then to use his quote in my ads in Black Belt magazine which also tremendously helped propel my name and work in Europe.
From 2010 on, though we have tried many a times, I have never returned to London England to teach Senshido or self defense, as 3-5 of England’s more prolific martial arts and self defense instructors at the time got together to sabotage me. They would ban together and host a workshop for the public on the same dates I was to hold mine and at one tenth of the cost so people had a choice, pay 100 British pounds to train with me for 5-6 hours, or 10 British pounds to train with 3-5 of England’s top names for a full day.
The Shredder concept was never coined by me, the name came up by accident in 1997 during a private lesson one of my guys, Marc Ste. Marie, aka ‘The Malevolent Preacher’ on the notorious Senshido forums of the mid 90’s to early 2000s, was teaching Warren Ng, a long time correspondent student and friend from Brooklyn NY, our 5 Principles of Physical Retaliation. Warren was having a hard time understanding the quarter beat concept while working the heavy bag, and during the demo of the closest weapon to closest target principle, Warren has a light bulb moment and says to Marc “You mean like a paper shredder?” to which Marc exclaimed, “Yes! Exactly! Like a shredder! Now shred the damn thing!” referring to the heavy bag.
Warren goes back to Brooklyn, hops on the Senshido forums and tells everyone how he learned the Shredder concept at Senshido. The forum public adopted it instantly, we began referring to the 5 Principles as the Shredder since then.
I opened my school roughly 1 year after quitting Tony Blauer’s, who by the way claims until today that it was a midnight move when I gave him 2 weeks notice of leave, even if he didn’t deserve it considering he was paying me an average of 50 - 80 cents an hour while verbally abusing and belittling me on a daily basis.
Tony closed shop in the industrial section of Mount Royal to literally open 7 blocks down from where I opened Senshido. He came into my school one night in late 1994, early 95 and took the certification he gave me off my wall and promised he’d shut me down in under a few months of his opening a few blocks down from me.
Tony Blauer loathes Me so much he literally began taking full page ads out in Montreal’s biggest local newspaper at the time, The Montreal Mirror, and reserve a quarter of the page of his ads to trash talk me just months after he opened his school a few blocks from where I opened mine.
It backfired on him completely however. At the end of the day, Blauer literally helped put me and Senshido on the map both locally and Internationally from his constant trash talking. He brought me all kinds of attention both locally and Internationally helping speed up my fame. Honestly, I don't know if I would have made it so far without his consistent public nagging that literally persists to this day. It is not for nothing the old saying goes “Say what you want about me, but make sure you spell my name correctly.”
Tony Blauer ended up closing his school in less than 24 months of operation I believe. Not only did he not shut me down and have to shut down himself, but much to his dismay and with his help no less; I’ve become one of the top in my field worldwide. Credit where it is due, the man was way ahead of his time back in the early 90’s. He literally introduced the world of psychology and violent behavior awareness to the world of martial arts and self defense. He was truly an innovator in those days and I, in my most humble of opinions, think he should be credited for it along the likes of Bruce Lee, the Gracie Family, Gene Lebell.
By 2008, my life had come to a drastic change and was about to change even more a couple of years later with the coming of my son. I was Suffering a major yet unbeknownst depression resulting from PTSD as my past was catching up to me (didn't get diagnosed until 2015). It had been 2 years since I had sold my school in 06 and I was now full fledged on the road on a seminar circuit that in 2007 had me teaching 13 workshops in 4 countries and roughly 11 cities in a 5 week period. The depression came with a sidekick, social anxiety, and together they formed a tag team that kicked my ass some until 2015, as it wasn't possible for me to battle an enemy I wasn't aware was coming at me. As time went on they got the better of me and I became cynical, dark, brooding and completely unaware of my personal predicament, as many are when consumed by mental illness. This predicament cost me relationships, friendships and had me bury myself at home when I wasn't teaching.
In 2013 my depression and anxiety tag team decided I didn't want to teach anymore. They had me doing my best to step away from it and self destruct a legacy I managed to build from scratch nearly 2 decades earlier and it was Chris Roberts of Safe International who
just wouldn't let my career or the Senshido name die. He single handedly maintained my career alive the entire time I was hell bent on destroying it. If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't have come back to it all. I owe him that. Hell, he even brought the Shredder Logo and name back after we decided to kill it for marketing and legal reasons, hard to explain having to rip someone apart in self defense using the "Shredder" with these logos on your shirts and websites.
After Chris Roberts of http://www.safe101.education spent more time keeping both my name and career alive then advertising his own business, and I finally caught on that I perhaps needed to see someone for the new suicidal thoughts I was having, in late 2014 I began looking for a therapist. In 2015 after several sessions and professional diagnosis, I got my shit together again and tried to reboot Senshido International. Didn't work.
The cops were often called and interrupted many of our outdoors and sometimes, even indoor classes and workshops actually believing the violence was real as what we did back in the 90's looked nothing like martial arts training and everything like a street brawl. After having explained it to a few pairs of cops, they told us we shouldn't be teaching that sort of thing and that it was too real.
Jean Claude Van Damme once called me at the school (when he was shooting the Quest in Montreal) after getting wind that Dolph Lundgren had been training with us every time he was in town shooting a film, asking if he could also train with us (I was a big fan of his then, something to be said about not meeting your heroes) to which I ecstatically replied sure. Van Damme proceeded to demand I shut my school down for 4-5 weeks he was in town shooting, during my peak hours, from 5 to 10pm, for free. I told him that was impossible, and that Dolph literally trained with me and his own personal trainer during my opening hours and that he even jumped into my group classes at the excitement of my students who couldn't believe that Ivan Drago from Rocky 4 was skipping rope next to them and taking my classes. He huffed and puffed then hung up on me, and that was my one and only experience with the man.
BONUS: The Story behind the Challenge Pic Above.
So, a Thai boxer walked into my school one day in 1998 if I remember correctly, issuing a challenge. Being the arrogant and cocky bastard I was back in the days, we used to issue a $1000 challenge out to anyone who would walk into our school and mouth off as to how what we were teaching was useless and didn't work compared to whatever system or style they were into then. I swear it felt like we were living a Kung Fu flick back then and we were the Ching Wu School. (Bruce Lee, Fists of Fury/Chinese Connection reference)
The challenge was simple, step up or shut up and leave, as most never had the guts to actually step up and prove what they were saying beyond mouthing off, which is what preempted the 1000 dollar challenge. If they were to win by tap out or knock out, I would hand em over 1000 dollars in cash, no questions asked. If They lost, they'd just lose and not have to pay anything except loss of face.
So this alleged Thai Boxing 'champion' brother came in and figured he’d make a quick grand. He immediately began to trash me and Senshido, claiming he was some champion back home, that Thai boxing was all he needed in a street fight and yada fuckin yada.
I offered for him to go out and pick any student of his choosing to spar against and the brother refused, strictly wanted me, asked for me specifically like he had some sort of vendetta against me. Turns out, all he wanted was to (his words coming up) "beat the master of the school'.
So, I obliged him. Back in those days, I loved to fight too. I immediately stood up, there and then, ready to go which confused him because we were standing in my office. The space wasn’t adequate enough for him and he apparently also needed to change and warm up before the fight. Interesting considering his pre babble.
I asked him how truly functional his art could be if he needed space, time to warm up and the proper clothing attire to perform adequately prior to the fight. This seemingly went completely over his head. No probs. Moving on.
As he was warming up, I noticed my ceiling light fixtures needed fixing, so I pulled the ladder out and began changing the burnt-out fluorescent tube light. This puzzled the shit out of him as he was now busy warming up, shadow fighting trying to intimidate me through the mirror, too bad I wasn’t looking at him though.
When he was finally ready, we walked into the ring, and he paused to ask me if I’m going to change first (as I was wearing what you see in the pic, black jeans, a T-shirt and running shoes) I told him I was fine this way, then walked towards him as he began to take his fighting stance he again seemed puzzled asking me why, as both my hands were down so he assumed I wasn’t in a fighting stance. I told him that indeed was and proceeded to land a perfectly executed round kick to the side of his face, which stunned him and caused him to reflexively charge and tackle me.
We ended up outside of the ring with the fight lasting roughly under a minute with my choking him out seconds after this picture was taken by one of my guys, Marc Saint Marie, who took another one seconds later while I was choking him out. (Can’t seem to find that one anywhere). He got up half conscious after my father, of all people, who used to love coming to watch these challenge matches back in the day, stopped me from choking him out to unconsciousness. The brother got up somehow claiming he won the fight (denial much?) We have pics and about 30 witnesses in the form of my students present that day, but he didn't wait to ask for the thousand bucks lol.... Ahhh, the youthful days lolol.....