Black Belt (magazine)

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Black Belt
Cover art from the first issue of Black Belt magazine depicting two judoka performing a throw.
The cover of Black Belt magazine's first issue
Exec. EditorRobert W. Young
CategoriesMartial arts and combat sports
PublisherPatrick Sternkopf
FounderMitoshi Uyehara
Year founded1961; 61 years ago (1961)
First issueApril 1961 (1961-April)
CompanyBlack Belt LLC
CountryUnited States
Based inOklahoma City, Oklahoma

Black Belt is an American magazine covering martial arts and combat sports. The magazine is based in Valencia, California, and is one of the oldest titles dedicated to martial arts in the United States.[1]

History and profile[edit]

The magazine was founded in 1961[2] by Mitoshi Uyehara. It was published by Uyehara under the company "Black Belt, Inc." based in Los Angeles until 1973. Although the publication went mainstream in 1961, the first magazine was produced and sold for ten cents and was put together on the kitchen floor of Uyehara's home in 1958. By the first year of producing a full publication in 1961, Uyehara was in debt for $30,000. This story has been one that he has shared with his children and grandchild to believe in oneself and fight against the odds. Bruce Lee contributed many articles to the publication during the 1960s. Uyehara, a martial artist in his own right, was a key personage in arranging Lee's material for publication.[3] Uyehara is a 3rd Dan in Aikido but studied many other arts. He is the student of Tohei Sensei, an Aikido master. Uyehara believed that Americans could benefit from the discipline of martial arts, and his love for the art is what led to turning a hobby into a living. What began as a humble endeavor of opening the first Aikido dojo in Los Angeles, grew into a magazine, and sports exhibition. His relationship with Bruce Lee was mutual. While Uyehara immediately saw Lee's talent and featured him in his publications, Lee reciprocated by his loyalty in only providing direct interviews to Uyehara once he reached stardom. The two men knew they were both minorities in an art that was not embraced by Americans at the time. The two remained close friends until Lee's death. Uyehara has never had another best friend since the death of Lee. Uyehara, in his own humble way, and because he recognized the value of Lee's talent, continued to perpetuate Lee's art through his own children and grandson, currently a cadet at the United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.

Uyehara founded "Rainbow Publications" in 1974 (based in Los Angeles, later Burbank, CA and Santa Clarita, CA), where he acted as president, but he ceased acting as an editor from this time. Uyehara moved to Honolulu in 1980, from where he continued to act as a publisher until 1998. Uyehara was originally from Lahaina, Maui, and saw the value of returning home to be close to his family. During this transitional period, the magazine underwent a frequent change in editorship (Bob MacLaughlin 1974, Rick Shively 1976, Richard Zimmerman 1978, John R. Corbett 1980, John Steward 1980, John Hanson 1981, James Nail 1982-83) until Jim Coleman became executive editor in 1984, serving until 1997. Robert W. Young succeeded Coleman in 1997/8, shortly before the acquisition of the magazine by Sabot Publishing, and remains executive editor as of 2016.

Rainbow Publications was acquired by Sabot Publishing, a publisher of "special interest publications", in 1999. Sabot Publishing was in turn acquired by Active Interest Media in 2003,[4] from which time the magazine has been under the supervision of "Group Publisher" (responsible for strategic development) Cheryl Angelheart.[5] Black Belt magazine started a YouTube account in 2008 and uploads videos demonstrating martial art techniques and weapons from classical to modern styles and interviews with known martial artists, experts, and martial art news.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Black Belt". Active Interest Media. Archived from the original on June 19, 2017. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  2. ^ Loren Franck (1985). 25 Years of Black Belt Magazine (Magazine). Vol. 23. Active Interest Media, Inc. Retrieved December 14, 2011.
  3. ^ Bruce Lee (1978). Bruce Lee's Fighting Method. Ohara Publications Inc. p. Introduction. ISBN 0-89750-062-8.
  4. ^ Sabot Publishing ( press release: "Richmond, VA, October 14, 2003—Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc., announced the acquisition of the assets of Richmond, Va.- based Sabot Publishing, Inc., publisher since 1999 of leading including Black Belt, Vegetarian Times, Better Nutrition, Southwest Art, Log Home Design Ideas, and the Garlinghouse Company, publisher and supplier of home plan magazines and home plans. Cruz Bay Publishing, a subsidiary of newly created Active Interest Media (AIM), is headed by Efrem 'Skip' Zimbalist III, former Chief Executive Officer of Times Mirror Magazines from 1995 to 2000." C.f. also: "Late in 2003, our parent company, Sabot Publishing Inc., was purchased by Active Interest Media Inc." editorial, April 2004 edition.
  5. ^ Active Interest Media: Black Belt (c. 2009). Retrieved on December 14, 2011. "Black Belt staff". Cruz Bay Publishing Inc. 2010. Archived from the original on January 29, 2018. Retrieved December 14, 2011.
  6. ^ "Black Belt Magazine Official". Retrieved 2019-01-25.

External links[edit]