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August is Black Belt Magazine Sucks Month

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    August is Black Belt Magazine Sucks Month

    You know, I've always wanted to write a "Forward" to something.

    I remember growing up and reading BBMag as a teenager. I diligently "tried out" the techniques and absorbed every bit of the pearls of wisdom contained between its covers.

    It took me entirely too long to realize that a "Black Belt", in most cases, didn't mean much and often meant very little. It took even longer to arrive at the understanding that people who place importance on the color of a belt to such a degree, often do so because they're unwilling to measure the actual fighting skill it supposedly represents.

    Too few black belts represent one's fighting ability. Most these days either serve as indicators of how long a parent has dutifully sent their child and check to the local McDojo, or a last line of defense for keeping closed a gi
    belonging to an aging "martial artist" against the force of his ever-growing gut.

    Regardless, this isn't about the concept of a belt ranking system as much as it is about the magazine that puts such importance on that concept, it's reflected in its name. The Internet has given rise to a new media, and this one doesn't put up with half-truth, obfuscation, and outright self aggrandizing BS.

    Written By Sam Browning, esq.
    Growing up we believed many stupid things. Santa Claus is real, the government is here to help us, and that Black Belt Magazine provides an objective and valuable chronicle of the American Martial Arts community. LOL :)

    Yes, our BS detectors were often forged from noticing that this rag never said anything negative about any martial artist. (Or at least not since Count Dante was still trashing other people's dojos, think early 1970s)

    Similarly we noticed that the grand senseis who bought the most flashy full page ads always got the most enthusiastic coverage, that certain topics of great consumer importance were studiously avoided. (For example, why the beginning student should avoid NAPMA-style sales pitches and long term contracts). information that hurt their patrons/sponsors was swept under the rug. (Such as why Jerry Peterson lost his SCARS contract with the SEALS only a couple years after the Navy hired him.)

    And what really pisses us off is the hero worship they dump on any martial artist who can appear in a movie, while being able to walk and chew gum, or sexually harass multiple women at the same time. (Take your bow, Steven Seagal:)

    With the exception of an occasional good article by David Lowry, and a couple of pithy comments by Bill Wallace, this magazine has been dreck, and unfortunately this dreck has been the primary source of information for new martial artists between the early 1960s, and the invention of internet bulletin boards like this one.

    We're not happy that Black Belt Magazine left us about 40 years of fertilizer to clean up. It all could have been avoided had they run an occasional investigation piece, or even renounced their grammatical fellatio-like endorsement of Frank Dux's Kumite claims in 1980. (They haven't even retracted that article yet)

    Since Black Belt's in-house Commando in residence, James Wagner was recently found to be padding his own SWAT resume, it appears that this bird cage liner can't even report accurately on their own staff's qualifications let alone on those artists in the martial arts community.

    Perhaps we are just cynical however, we thought reporting involved some activity beyond transcribing and printing whatever Soke O K Dookie dictates to you, when your writer/reporters are on bended knee.

    Nope, the original emperor wears no clothes and hopefully they'll lose so much money that not even their DVD and tape sales will save them.
    Attached Files

    About time. I became suspicious after the terrible MMA article by Bill Wallace and now I can't even look at it after they had an article claiming that No Touch KO's are real. And for a magazine that claims to be helping the MA community, they sure have a lot of ads about getting black belts by mail and magnetic chi balls.

    Great article.


      Well done, Sirs.

      I tried to read that magazine when I started Karate a few years ago.

      My bullshit detector had to be replaced after about 3 pages,

      2 of which were the table of contents.
      If you can't laugh at yourself,
      Others will be happy to do it for you. :evil6:

      The 2 most abundant elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.


        My substitute: Asian Journal of Martial Arts

        My problem: it looks like they're running out of legit articles to run...


          God, the people who write all the shit for BB are such fucking idiots. I occasionally buy a copy at the Barnes and Nobles just for shits and giggles if I have the money; the only regular piece from the magazine that I find legitimately interesting is on the last page where they recount some of the stuff that's happened over the years in their rag. Here's a little idiotic tid-bit they printed in that section a few years ago:

          Think mixed martial arts is a 21 century innovation? Think again! Check out what a reader wrote in to us in the 70's: "I think karateka should train like boxers do, with punching bags and with sparring. To much time is spent training one way and fighting another."
          ^ I find it funny that the guy wrote in advocating what we would call Alive Training, and the current writers of BB don't even know what the fuck that is.


            Black belt mag. is truly worthy of the big suck award! Nice choice frost. However I don't think one month will be long enough.


              I think you guys are being too harsh. BB has been very useful to me, I ran out of toilet paper a couple of times and it always came in handy.


                Originally posted by hoodedmonk
                Black belt mag. is truly worthy of the big suck award! Nice choice frost. However I don't think one month will be long enough.
                I've always thought "Black Belt Sucks" was the implied subtitle of this forum.


                  I remember reading some comment or article in the early 90s about an Instructor who would encourage his students to go out and fight the local drunks and bums. What a pile of crap.


                    Without Black Belt, there would be no Bullshido. Without Black Belt, there would be no seemingly-legitimate media outlet for the martial arts community, and thus no exposure for the frauds like Ashida Kim, Pete Ragnar, Christian Harfouche, Matt Furey, or any of the dozens of other frauds that this very site seeks out to tear down.

                    Black Belt gives this site purpose by being the vessel that makes the frauds appear real.

                    Think of Black Belt not as your enemy, but as the opposing team's playbook. We should be thankful for this gift, and perhaps maybe someday all of you know-it-alls will get the balls and capital together to print your very own rag. How else would we know about magnetic chi-balls, zen sticks, kettlebells, Systema, idiotic Krav Maga gun disarms, martial arts made up just for movies,

                    Bullshido Magazine - I'd buy that.

                    Provided you don't put a two-page spread of Jeff Monson's ugly mug in every issue.


                      I've never bought one. I feel like I've missed out.


                        Back in the 80s-90s, my friend was an independent photographer
                        who was often contracted by BBMag to take pics for various
                        tournaments, and/or interviews that the mag was going to run.

                        He rarely accompanied the authors of such articles, and meny times
                        his photos were used out of context, or for completely different
                        articles than what was communicated to him when contracted.

                        Both of us being martial artists, this got us thinking that they were
                        prolly making up the articles after they got the photos, and/or they
                        were completely full of sh*t!

                        Later, he'd still take their contract jobs (hey, a brutha gotta eat!),
                        but, often sent in photos he had in his archives, and ran with the $$!
                        He figured if they were gonna put out crap, then, he would put it in,
                        for them!

                        Yeah, I'm guilty. . .I still buy a copy occasionally. But, I buy it for their
                        60% ads when I'm looking for new gear, or to build my own! It's even
                        good for ads on cheap MA insurance for instructors.


                        Last edited by Meex; 8/04/2008 5:40pm, .


                          Originally posted by Kuma
                          Think of Black Belt not as your enemy, but as the opposing team's playbook. We should be thankful for this gift, and perhaps maybe someday all of you know-it-alls will get the balls and capital together to print your very own rag. How else would we know about magnetic chi-balls, zen sticks, kettlebells, Systema, idiotic Krav Maga gun disarms, martial arts made up just for movies,
                          Not to be a noob, but whats wrong with kettlebells? We do them occasionally and they work me pretty hard. I was always under the impression that they were just different shaped weights...


                            :sad11: Clearly an on point article. Black Belt magazine has declined. But let us go back to when Rainbow publications was in its heyday publishing Karate Illustrated to cover the tournament action of the day and Fighting Stars to cover the MA entertainment, i.e. movie, industry. This left Black Belt to do some real journalism. The late Donn Drager had submitted articles and Judo, Kendo and other Japanese TMAs were the mainstay of the magazine with articles on Silat, Arnis, Chinese styles and military/LEO applications being covered from time to time. During the 70's to the 80's there were several martial arts magazines being published (anyone remember "Official Karate"?) this meant that there was competition and the public could vote with their wallets. The decline in print media means that writiers get paid less and less for what they submit and the merging of sport/entertainment into the public's perception of what constitutes martial art has created an environment that encourages "puff piece" writing that has contributed to the current sorry state of affairs at Black Belt. I have met and spoken with some of their advertising people at various industry trade shows and advertising dollars are what is keeping the magazine afloat as newstand sales continue to take a beating. So when I read the magazine and realize just how far it has fallen, I simply chalk up as a sign of the times.:disgust:


                              TKD Times is worse.



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