January 28 | 2021
When you hear the word IMPACT what comes to mind? For us, it is:
When you hear the word IMPACT what comes to mind? For us, it is:
Black Belt Magazine has a storied history that dates back all the way to 1961, making 2021 the 60th Anniversary of the world's leading magazine of martial arts. To celebrate six decades of legendary martial arts coverage, take a trip down memory lane by scrolling through some of the most influential covers ever published. From the creators of martial art styles, to karate tournament heroes, to superstars on the silver screen, and everything in between, the iconic covers of Black Belt Magazine act as a time capsule for so many important moments and figures in martial arts history. Keep reading to view the full list of these classic issues.
This is where it all began. This 34-page first issue contained feature articles about kendo, aikido, and the AAU National Judo Championships. Legends like Jigoro Kano, Ed Parker, and Koichi Tohei are all mentioned. The first page even explains where Black Belt got its name!
The September 1965 issue had some international flavor, with articles featuring karate practiced "The Tokyo Way" by Tak Kubota and a piece titled Judo in Yugoslavia. There is also a write-up about the All-Japan Judo Championships and a story on the Judo icon Wally Jay.
Black Belt tried out a hand-painted art style for many of the covers in 1967. This cover was the first to feature Chuck Norris after he narrowly defeated Joe Lewis at S. Henry Cho's North American Karate Championship. The final score was 27.5 to 25.5.
Joe Lewis would avenge his loss to Norris earlier in the year by winning Jhoon Rhee's U.S. Karate Championships with Bruce Lee in attendance. The feature article tells how Lewis defeated John Wooley in the finals in front of 8,000 fans in Washington, D.C.
The first issue featuring Bruce Lee on the cover had to be one of Black Belt's most iconic issues. Action fans everywhere were tuning into The Green Hornet and "Kato" was a superstar. Also, the results of a survey showed that karate was gaining popularity over judo in the U.S.
Young kobudo master Fumio Demura shared the secrets of the sai in a feature article that included photograph tutorials of various grips and techniques. A four-year judo university called "Yudo College" in Korea was also featured in this issue.
In this issue, Capoeira was described as an art that captured Brazil's history and culture. Another sign of the times, a study was published suggesting that karate can be learned from films for the first time. Pat Johnson described films as the "finest single aid to karate training".
The cover article of this issue featured the legendary Jhoon Rhee, who was deemed the "Father of U.S. Tae Kwon Do" in the story. The Bornean Dyak tradition of Kenjah was also featured, which prepared boys for murder in a bloody ritual that was required for manhood.
In the first issue featuring Gene LeBell on the cover, he compares judo and its limitations to professional wrestling. Another feature article provides self-defense information from law enforcement advisors after recent increases in violent crime were observed.
David Carradine was prominently featured in the cover piece about the Kung Fu television series. Black Belt also claimed that Japan's reign on Olympic judo had ended, as Dutchman Willem Ruska took two gold medals and the Russians won four total medals (one gold).
In this issue, Bob Wall of Enter the Dragon tells all about how mastering pain helped him achieve success in competition, business, and acting. Black Belt also sponsored the "First Oriental Fighting Arts Expo" with 35 martial artists performing for over 10,000 fans.
The Father of American Kenpo is prominently featured in a piece titled And in the Beginning There was Ed Parker. There is also a forward-thinking article about informing the media of martial arts in order to grow participation in martial arts schools and tournaments.
"Superfoot" gets his own Black Belt cover and discusses his fighting career. He said that he liked the then-new innovation of safety gear because he can "really hit the guy". Successful martial arts businesswomen Pauline Short, Julie Webb, and Py Bateman were also featured.
Southern California karate pioneer Dan Ivan gets a a cover article about his career in this issue. The magazine also contains advertisements for Jhoon Rhee's Safe-T gear and Braschi protective equipment as endorsed by Chuck Norris, early competitors in martial arts supply.
Chuck Norris finds himself on the cover of another issue and is famously quoted in the feature article stating, "I would really like to become a white Bruce Lee". The issue also shares a photograph tutorial for elbow techniques designed to defend women against rape.
Tang Soo Do gets a national spotlight as C.S. Kim graces the cover of this issue. Century Martial Arts had their classic Kickin' Jeans advertisement featured. The art of Chi Kung is also prominently featured in the piece Harnessing Internal Powers with Chi Kung.
Joo Bang Lee shares his knowledge of Hwarangdo and how it can be used for knife defense in his cover piece. There is also a write up about Mas Oyama's 2nd World Karate Tournament, where overtime bareknuckle matches were determined by breaking competitions.
A four-part feature series about William Cheung concluded in this issue as he was pictured on the cover. The issue also contains an exclusive interview with Hirokazu Kanazawa, who was one of the premier instructors in the Japan Karate Association.
The ninjutsu craze earned Ninjamania the cover, but this issue included other big stories like Chuck Norris reflecting on his toughest opponents and the U.S. Olympic Judo team making history by winning their first-ever silver medal.
Benny "The Jet" Urquidez lands on his first Black Belt cover in this issue and stresses the importance of striking to the legs when fighting. There was also a special update piece on previous Hall of Famers, such as Ed parker, Joe Lewis, Jeff Smith, Ark Wong, and more.
Thai boxing gets some notable American press in this issue, and Jhoon Rhee is featured again for teaching multiple United States congressmen. Fumio Demura is also pictured in the issue breaking glass for an article titled Hand Strikes of Karate.
Masaaki Hatsumi continues the 80's ninja craze on the cover of this issue. The WUKO World Championships were also covered, where American superstar Hakim Alston defeated an opponent in under 22 seconds. This prompted a drug screening that he passed without issue.
Judo legend Mike Swain gets the cover in October of '88 as the United States Olympic Judo Team gets a spotlight for all of their members. The U.S. Taekwondo team was also given a feature, recognizing notable athletes like Jimmy Kim and Arlene Limas.
Taekwondo Master Hee Il Cho shared his art's amazing jumping kicks for this cover. Various martial arts weapons also received a spotlight in articles about lesser-known Samurai weapons like the sickle and chain, as well as a Kung Fu piece about the Wu Dang sword.
Ted Wong is featured on this cover as he tells Black Belt about his training under Bruce Lee. Another feature article tackles a question that is still prevalent today- What's Wrong with Tournament Karate? in an attempt to figure out how to make martial arts a mainstream sport.
Suh In-Hyuk graced this cover because he was a notable professor for the Rockwell College of Applied Arts and Science that offered doctorates in martial arts through the mail. This issue also provided one of the first major national spotlights for Gracie JuJitsu.
The NBA's all-time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, is featured on this cover for an exclusive interview in which he talks about training with Bruce Lee. Other features include a piece about stunt performers and cross training in martial arts for other athletes.
Kickboxing champion Kathy Long tells all in this issue about being the stunt double for Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. David Lea is also prominently featured for his work as a stunt double for Michael Keaton in Batman and the sequel, Batman Returns.
Brandon Lee wields a three-sectional staff on the cover of this issue shortly after his tragic passing. In addition to the memorial, champions on the tournament circuit at the time such as Cynthia Rothrock and Kenn Firestone share secrets about designing a winning tournament form.
UFC 1 tournament winner Royce Gracie gets the cover in this issue as he explains why he had been inactive at the time. There's also a write up of the Ocean State Grand Nationals, where over 1,000 competitors attended while Richard Branden and Mafia Holloway won titles.
MMA legend Ken Shamrock is pictured on the cover with challenger Kimo Leopoldo in the background ahead of their superfight. In other news, Team USA took home multiple WAKO world titles as Richard Plowden, Mike Chaturantabut, and Willie Johnson all won gold.
This cover features Marco Ruas as he tells the Black Belt readers about Vale Tudo, an intense martial art that helped him earn the title of King of the Streets. Another feature article discusses the appeal of martial arts movies and what made them so popular in this era.
Rickson Gracie, arguably the greatest jiu jitsu practitioner of all time, is seen on this cover for his feature article about the No-Holds-Barred Fighting association. A fascinating article about learning Tae Kwon Do in Korea is also featured in the issue.
Shannon Lee, daughter of icon Bruce Lee, is featured for her piece that dives into her training in a variety of martial arts. Gary Alexander, winner of Mas Oyama's first North American Championships, also earns a prominent feature to discuss the state of martial arts at the time.
Steve Demasco shares how Chinese Kempo maximizes striking power in the cover issue. In another feature, Meredith Gold shares one of many women's self-defense articles. Century's iconic BOB also makes one of its first advertising appearances in the issue.
This cover features Steven Seagal after his return to the big screen for Exit Wounds, and discusses his influential role as a promoter of Aikido in the United States. Bare-knuckle karate is also featured as part of the classic debate between Budo and Bujutsu.
Black Belt celebrates four decades of martial arts history with a mosaic of many impactful covers over the years. A feature article explains how grappling skills are useful for self-defense and "Hwa Rang Do's Golden Child" Taejoon Lee landed an article/photo tutorial as well.
Michael Jai White credits his Hollywood success to mastery of traditional karate and kobudo in the cover piece of the February 2002 issue. There is also a somewhat controversial piece about the art of trapping and wether or not it is effective in the real world.
The now ultra-famous podcast host Joe Rogan gets the cover in this issue when he was the host of Fear Factor and was known for training in Taekwondo and Jujutsu. There is also a story about a martial arts "Celebrity Roast" to honor Bob Wall featuring the likes of Chuck Norris.
Co-Founder of Gracie Jiu Jitsu alongside his brothers, Helio Gracie, graces the cover of this issue for an article about his life and legacy. Also, after new rules were implemented by the World Karate Federation, John Fonseca shares his kumite secrets.
Following the release and success of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Volume 1, David Carradine gets a long-overdue feature on the cover of Black Belt. In other news, K-1 legend Bob Sapp confronted Mike Tyson after knocking out Kimo Leopoldo.
Ahead of the premiere of The Ultimate Fighter, UFC stars Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell appear in the cover article and give tips for any readers that may want to give the reality show a try. A feature article titled "High-Tech Training" discusses the use of instructional DVDs as well.
Wushu superstar Jet Li sheds his hero archetype in Unleashed and gets a spot on the cover for it. The legendary Morihei Uyeshiba is also prominently featured in an article that details the striking and pressure points used in Aikido.
Leading up to Black Belt's 50th anniversary, this issue is the second in a series of five that features a decade-by-decade timeline of martial arts history as told by Black Belt. Scott Adkins gets the cover as one of seven featured individuals that define the "21st Century Martial Artist".
Martial arts icons like Jhoon Rhee, Stephen K. Hayes, Dan Inosanto, and more write personal notes to Black Belt in celebration of the 50th anniversary. There is also a prominent write up of Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster starring Donnie Yen.
Black Belt's 2011 Man of the Year and the founder/CEO of Century Martial Arts, Mike Dillard, is featured on the cover of this issue. Anthony "Showtime" Pettis is also featured in the issue after his signature knockout of Ben Henderson by jumping off the cage with a round kick.
Ronda Rousey gets featured on the cover after medaling in Judo at the olympics and having some early MMA succes, but before fighting for the UFC title. Sport Karate legend Steve "Nasty" Anderson does an exclusive interview about the Superman Punch vs California Blitz.
Kayla Harrison lands on this cover after winning her first gold medal and bringing United States Olympic Judo to prominence. The 2012 Black Belt Hall of Fame is also announced in this issue, featuring Jae Chul Shin, Ronda Rousey, Sage Northcutt, and more.
YouTube superstar Master Ken dons the signature red Ameri-Do-Te sleeveless uniform on this cover. He and his true self, Matt Page, answer questions separately in a truly one-of-a-kind feature article. The rest of the 2014 Hall of Fame class is also announced in this issue.
This brings us to 2021, the modern era of Black Belt. The stars of Netflix's Cobra Kai are featured as their show captures the attention of martial artists and fans around the world. Black Belt celebrates their 60th anniversary and looks ahead to many more years of martial arts.
ONE Championship has showcased some of the finest talents from all around the globe, and one of the fastest-rising nations on the global stage has been Vietnam.
The talent coming out of Vietnam has produced some of the most exhilarating finishes in recent memory.
Two of the top athletes of Vietnamese heritage have been featherweight kings Martin "The Situ-Asian" Nguyen and Thanh Le.
Nguyen, an Australian-Vietnamese star, has conquered two divisions during his stint in the organization. The heavy-handed athlete first picked up the ONE Featherweight World Championship before claiming the ONE Lightweight World Title to become the first-ever ONE double champion.
At ONE: Inside The Matrix, Thanh Le ascended to the top of the featherweight division against Nguyen.
The Vietnamese-American completed his objective with a dazzling knockout over "The Situ-Asian" in what was promised to be an all-action title tilt. It delivered on that promise and highlighted the tremendous Vietnamese talent.
In ONE Super Series, "No. 1" Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat delivers some of the most spectacular performances. The Vietnamese warrior is displaying his skills in the striking arts as one of the top Muay Thai practitioners in the world today.
As the martial arts world continues to grow, fans should expect more amazing talent to come from Vietnam. The talent-rich region has already produced World Champions, and there is undoubtedly more to ascend to greatness in the years to come.
Enjoy this hard-hitting compilation provided by Asia's largest sports media property of some of the best finishes from ONE's Vietnamese athletes!
VIETNAMESE POWER: Feast your eyes on the CRAZIEST finishes from ONE's Vietnamese warriors.
Are you ready to enter the martial arts matrix?
Last year, COVID-19 forced us all to find new ways of doing familiar things--including teaching and training. While many schools unfortunately died out due to the pandemic, some schools also found new life with unique solutions. One of the popular options that schools found was online training.
Let's kick the elephant out of the room first. Of course online training can never fully replace in-person training in the martial arts world. Thankfully, it also doesn't have to. What many schools found last year was that they could survive, at least temporarily, with video conference tools and virtual sessions. What some of the same schools are finding this year is that they can help their schools thrive as normalcy slowly ebbs back into view and they are now equipped to offer online services as an auxiliary tool.
Nowadays, there are so many different ways martial arts info is spread online. We can indulge in martial art blogs, podcasts, and even online classes hosted by schools many miles away. Even before the pandemic put us all in front of a computer screen, the internet has been dramatically changing the world and how communication is disseminated. Over the years, the internet has become one of the most powerful pieces of equipment in a martial artist's toolbox.
Mind you, powerful doesn't mean perfect. Let's delve into the good and the bad of the martial artist's modern day tool!
Convenience comes with digital information. Like it or loathe it, technology allows you to easily fill up your free time. With that being said, it is up to you whether you allow it to be filled with entertainment or education. Regardless of what your work/life time balance is, it is likely that you still find time to clean the house, travel to work, mow the lawn, or do other mundane daily tasks.
Waxing a car and painting a fence may not equate to advancement in martial art skill (much to Mr. Miyagi's chagrin), however listening to a podcast or historical lesson while doing the aforementioned tasks can lend perspective to what we train. When we aren't able to physically improve, we can still mentally improve. This is where technology can be especially helpful.
Whether you want to listen to an interview with a Xingyi teacher in China or a karate historian living in Japan, you can now do that. If your interest is more in line with analyzing Western boxing or MMA fights, you can now also delve into that with ease.
We now have the ability to improve during mundane moments like never before. The next time you are washing dishes, be sure to pop in Jackson Rudolph's podcast and get ready to put new knowledge in your head!
Similar to the real world, bad information exists in the digital world. Sifting through what can be a digital wasteland of misinformation is similar in many ways to trying to find a good school when all you find are McDojo.
When combing the internet to expand your knowledge, already having some understanding on the subject is extremely beneficial. In a virtual landscape filled with trolls and frauds, even a bit of experience is massively helpful in recognizing what is realistic and what is truly impressive.
Again, the internet can be a powerful auxiliary tool instead of a primary method of learning.
The internet doesn't only give a voice to the misinformed or ill intentioned however. It is also a powerful tool in spreading the words and work of the wise. With something that can connect you to experts many miles away, past or present, you would have to be blind to miss the massive benefit this offers.
Online studying has its own unique benefits. We can peer into the classrooms of each other and now learn what we can collectively do to improve as fighters, teachers, philosophers, and everything in between. A wider spread of knowledge promotes more open routes of communication. In many ways, this avenue of information allows us to break down the barriers between styles and instead build bridges between our knowledge and experiences.
It is much tougher to grasp proper weight distribution, intention, structural alignment, muscle relaxation/tension, and other important nuances through a device. These can be discussed, however simple discussion about the topics will only take you so far.
From a pedagogical perspective, actually seeing and feeling these minute details is important. Though you aren't able to physically cross hands with a pre-recorded version of sensei, you can still vastly improve theory and understanding however.
Depending on your training, you can benefit from improving your understanding of culture, history, language, and many more "softer" aspects of your system.
Even if you study a system predominantly focused on self protection, studying videos and audio to improve your understanding of criminal psychology, victim mentality, adrenaline dump, the OODA loop, Cooper Color Codes, and other principles can radically improve your training.
Though it may be difficult to glean certain nuances to a technique in a martial art video, the modern age offers something quite helpful in remedying that to a degree: the ability to pause and rewind.
Whether you missed a wise word from the podcast or couldn't quite perceive what happened when the video was showing how to deal with an oncoming haymaker punch, you haven't missed it forever.
With a recording of a martial arts lesson, you can pause and rewind as often as you need and at any moment.
The best advice I could give anybody interested in learning from online training is...open your mind. Go into virtual training sessions and podcasts with a beginner's mind, receptive to new ideas and capable of working through the problems that may come at the onset.
You may not be able to work with a live partner, however you can visualize the scenario you are training for. You may not be able to see every nuance the teacher is doing, however you can pause and rewind recordings to catch the details only briefly shown or said.
Just because you can't do everything with digital training doesn't mean you can't do anything. The small things we do to progress incrementally eventually results in excellence of the highest level. Train hard in the dojo, however don't neglect the digital lessons we can now also take advantage of.
Speaking of which, you can't go wrong with Sammy Smith and Jackson Rudolph's Sport Karate University if you are looking for an online program to help upgrade your training! You can view that program and many other courses here!