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History of Zen Do Kai Martial Arts

Zen Do Kai - Martial Arts Freestyle is a phenomenon created by Bob Jones on 1st June 1970 when he opened his first martial arts club in Elizabeth St., Melbourne.

Originally intended to cater for those who worked in the security industry, the demand and popularity grew beyond expectation.

With the famous Bruce Lee movies flooding the cinemas more and more, people sought to participate in the martial arts phenomena...providing specialist security services and personal body guarding to all almost every major international Rock & Roll artists who toured Australia, tempered this popularity.

Zen Do Kai has never had a closed attitude, nor is it a closed system, we are an open system, and as such we have to be open to influences and ideas from all around the world. We must always be guided by a thirst for knowledge, understanding and meaning to the things we do and those things that have been handed down to us from previous generations.

Using modern self defence principles with traditional values, we seek to improve the system, improve ourselves and to be aware of creating the opportunities for the individuals within our organisation to achieve their personal best. We are proud, not only of our system, but of the many thousands of students that have developed from it. Train in Zen Do Kai and we are sure you will find the experience fulfilling, exciting and most of all .... enjoyable.

It has evolved from adding the principles and techniques of many martial arts disciplines together with the strong Bob Jones fighting tradition to form a modern, effective and comprehensive self defence system.

For over 45 Years, Zen Do Kai has been taught to thousands of people from all walks of life with Bob Jones Clubs (BJC) represented worldwide.

Zen Do Kai - "The Best of Everything in Progression"

Article by Founder, Bob Jones


Since its very conception, Zen Do Kai has meant 'the best of everything in progression'. It has always had the one overriding concept, does the technique really work? With that in mind Zen Do Kai has gone through constant evaluation and change, endeavouring to search for just that, truth in practicality.


"In the teachings of my discipline as a fighting system, I endeavour to be a total purist. As a purist I translate Zen Do Kai to be adaptable to its current environment, which happens to be right now in that, to be a constant winner you have to be able to adapt to change."


"There have been many turning points in the organisation, but one that stands out in my mind was probably in 1980. By 1980 we had 300 clubs and around 5,000 students, but I felt I hadn't done enough, we weren't growing fast enough. We had the desire to expose the benefits of martial arts training to everyone in the community and to make it something achievable for all".

So in 1980 the Jet Black system was introduced and in 1983 we developed the 'FAST' (Freefighting-forms And Self-defence Tournaments) system. A lot of emphasis was put on heavy competition. We made it the most competitive style in the country, in order to lift and improve the standard through regular competition.

In 1984 we modified our training practices, with the aim of again training people to fight from more practical postures, and applying techniques that work straight away.

At the beginning of 1990 we introduced Muay Thai Boxing principles and techniques within our Zen Do Kai classes which again added to the effectiveness of what we were already doing. Further to all this, Bob Jones is recognised as the father of Australian Kickboxing.


"On September 9, in 1976 I promoted Australia's inaugural kickboxing event. Kickboxing is painfully 'true'. If it doesn't work you find out about it in the square ring."

It was during a world tour with Rod Stroud (WA), to set up three World Kickboxing Titles and an International Teams Event for the America's Cup 'Festival of Sport' in 1986, that we both met Thai Boxing in the flesh. We trained with Tom Harinck in Amsterdam with some of his world champions and in Thailand regularly in the past ten years and both of us have included Muay Thai into our Zen Do Kai regime almost daily ever since.

Bob Jones' time is also carefully allotted to advise and guide his martial arts organisation of 1,000 schools of self defence throughout Australasia currently developing 20,000 students towards Black Belt.

  • He has made numerous television appearances providing self defense tips for women.

  • He writes regular magazine columns and provides expert commentary for kickboxing bouts.

  • He holds the rank of Ninth Degree, and is one of the highest ranked martial artists in Australia. In 1997 was awarded the prestigious Blitz Martial Arts Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award.

  • He has a number of highly successful business interests as well as being a grand father and family man.


Bob Jones continues to take an active interest in the ongoing development of Zen Do Kai, with many highly qualified instructors to assist him, conducting training sessions and seminars throughout the country.

This excerpt taken from the website

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