The magazine was founded in 1961 by Mitoshi Uyehara. It was published Uyehara under the company "Black Belt, Inc." based in Los Angeles until 1973. 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.
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 "consultant" until 1988. 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 1981) 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 2015.
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, from which time the magazine has been under the supervision of "Group Publisher" (responsible for strategic development) Cheryl Angelheart.
^Sabot Publishing (sabot.net) 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.