history

When Black Belt Magazine was born in 1961, the Beatles were a start-up band, Sergeant Elvis Presley just left the Army, 77 Sunset Strip and Bonanza were the hot TV shows, and phone numbers started with letters. The mainstream martial art of the era was judo and the Dead Sea was just sick.

Black Belt Magazine is the martial arts' most popular and influential publication and has been so since the early 1960s when the first issues were published. From the contents of those early issues, readers recognized that honor and integrity was behind this new martial arts resource and that its objective was not just profit-making or commercialization. The 1960s work here includes three phases in Black Belt's development. Phase one spans 1961 thru 1964 prior to Black Belt becoming a monthly magazine. Phase two spans 1965 and 1966. Phase three is 1967 thru 1969.

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BlackBeltMag.com's interview-profile of hung gar kung fu master Bucksam Kong concludes with his later years as a pioneer teaching the art in America.

As one of the first masters to teach hung gar kung fu in the United States, Bucksam Kong is recognized as a pioneer in the history of Chinese martial arts. His name is of those that martial artists have heard for years — decades, even! Bucksam Kong was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame as Instructor of the Year in 1974, and since then has gone on to run the Sil Lum Pai Gung Fu Association, based in Los Angeles.

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It's About More Than Belts and Uniforms, Part 1

Hidden amid the glorious combat pyrotechnics that make Bruce Lee's 1973 classic Enter the Dragon such a memorable movie is one scene in which African-American co-star Jim Kelly, on his way to the big martial arts tournament, is stopped and harassed by white policemen. Viewed against the current backdrop of civil unrest gripping American society over police brutality and social injustice, Enter the Dragon's brief foray into issues of race may well be the film's most lasting symbolic image.

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In the realm of empty-hand combat, true ambidexterity is a rare bird. Marvelous Marvin Hagler took great pains to develop facility as both an orthodox fighter and a southpaw, but we could easily see where he stacked his chips when the heat was high.

Seeking ambidexterity is a worthy goal — but one that has "opportunity costs." That is, the time we must put into developing the off-hand (or off-foot for kicking or off-side for grappling) means less time can be invested in moving the competency needle closer to mastery on our good side.

We should always make that cost-to-benefit analysis in our training because there are only so many hours in the day and precious few hours per week we can dedicate to training itself. With actual training time at a premium, do we want so-so returns or better-than-average returns?

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