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Letters to the Editor

“Black Belt is the current standard for publishing perfection—a family of impeccable professionals to whom most of us owe our careers.”
—Paul Vunak

“Black Belt has been at the forefront of martial arts publishing for decades—and a great supporter of the Gracie jiu-jitsu revolution. Best wishes for continued success.”
—Rorion Gracie

“From the time I was 10 years old, I waited for the new Black Belt to hit the magazine stands so I could learn the newest martial arts techniques. It’s been an honor to be on a few covers and become part of your history. I look forward to being part of your future, as well.”
—Cung Le

“I’d like to congratulate Black Belt on its 50th birthday. It’s the first and only magazine that’s covered all types of martial arts in the world. I wish you continued success in the years to come.”
—S. Henry Cho

“In the worldwide industry of martial arts, so fragmented with so many differences both internally and externally, there’s only one thing that brings us all together: Black Belt. Thank you for all you’ve done and continue to do.”
—Steve DeMasco

“My first appearance in Black Belt was in 1976, and over the decades since, the publishers and editors have been generously supportive of my work and message in the martial arts.

“I have been invited to be on the cover of Black Belt and its yearbook so many times, and the articles by Black Belt have been a primary source of students finding their way to me and my martial art schools.

“I thank you heartily and wish you a continuing 50 years of significance and success. I would not be where I am today without you!”
—Stephen K. Hayes

“In 1978 there were no ratings for women in kata competition, and I often found myself the only woman competing in the forms divisions at national tournaments. I believed more women would compete if they had ratings to aim for. When I contacted Black Belt and brought forth a petition to establish such ratings, the staff welcomed me with respect and open minds. My intent was to blaze a trail for future generations of women. I am deeply proud to have been part of Black Belt establishing the first official ratings for women’s forms in 1979. I am thankful for and honored by the professionalism and support that all at Black Belt have given me over the past 33 years. Congratulations on 50 years of greatness. May you continue to blaze a trail as the No. 1 martial arts source!”
—Karen Sheperd

“I cannot believe that time flies so fast. When I read about Black Belt’s 50th birthday, I suddenly realized I am 50 years older than when I first met Mito Uyehara, the founder of the magazine. Mito, Bruce Lee, Jimmy Uyehara and I were a few of the first names that appeared in the articles in early 1960s.

“I send my sincere congratulations to all who served as publishers, editors and staff writers, helping make the magazine a success. Nobody ever can tell how much this magazine contributed to the martial arts industry.

“I fought in the Korean War side by side with American soldiers who came to defend my motherland against the Communist invasion. It was a country the Americans had never heard of and a people they had never met. I wanted to do something for America because of what America had done for my country and the world. That sense of gratitude gave me the energy to get up at 5 a.m. three mornings a week for the past 45 years to teach taekwondo to members of the U.S. Congress. I will give five more years of volunteer service to match your magazine’s five decades of success.”
—Jhoon Rhee

“Challenges are what make martial arts interesting. Overcoming them is what makes them meaningful.

“This theme has stood the test of time and was always woven into the fabric of Black Belt’s leadership role in the martial arts. As the commandant of all martial arts publications, Black Belt will always represent the standard to which everyone is compared.”
—Joe Lewis

“I have had the pleasure of working with Black Belt in various productions since the ’80s. Then and now, Black Belt sets the standard for martial arts publications. Throughout the decades, the magazine and its staff have continued to change, adapt and improve. It’s the jeet kune do of martial art magazines.”
—Tom Cruse

“Congratulations on 50 years of service to our industry. In addition to being the first and best in martial arts publishing, Black Belt has provided a source of unity and identity for our founders, pioneers, masters and champions. I hold in my collection every issue from 1967 through the present, plus a few from as early as 1965. I wish I had the rest. In Black Belt, the reader can find a reference to every important event in the annals of martial arts in America. From the early years of Bruce Lee to the first UFC, the complete story, as it unfolded, is documented in its pages. After a half-century of enjoyment, I find that every issue today is just as relevant and just as important as the first issue from 1961.”
—Dr. Jerry Beasley

“The name of the magazine was chosen because of what a black belt and the holder of that belt symbolize. A black belt is a person with high morals and strong character, who through hard work and perseverance has achieved enough knowledge and skill to be considered an expert instructor or competitor in an accepted style. The name, therefore, is a perfect fit for Black Belt readers of all skill levels, for the editors who are responsible for providing the pubic with a martial arts resource offering fair, balanced, honest journalism, and for instructors and freelance writers who would aspire to contribute articles.

“Over time, an informal partnership came to exist between the readers, editors and contributors, which together would help brighten the image of the martial arts while increasing their popularity in America and around the world. Thank you for 50 years of sound reporting, including the documentation of the evolution of the martial arts.”
—Floyd Burk

“I understand that Black Belt will be celebrating a 50th birthday this year. By all standards, that puts the publication in the ‘pioneering/legendary’ category of the martial arts.

“I remember in the 1960s when I visited the new office of Black Belt and met the publisher—he was a man of honor and integrity. We met several times and had pleasant conversations about the martial arts. Going further, there was Geri Simon, a great lady who was a progressive leader and always available to talk current events and history.

“Now there’s Robert W. Young, executive editor, and Cheryl Angelheart, publisher. Under them, the magazine’s content has grown in prestige and stayed up with the changing times while still covering the characters of the ‘old world.’ ”
—Gary Alexander

“For the past five decades, Black Belt has remained true to its claim of being the ‘World’s Leading Magazine of Martial Arts.’ It’s an honor to be associated with you during this time as an avid reader and author.

“I fulfilled a personal goal when Massad Ayoob penned the cover story on me for the November 1973 issue. In the years that followed, I appeared in more articles and on another cover. In 2009 I was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame. For me, this type of recognition is one of far-reaching permanence, similar to ancient deeds that are remembered through carvings in stone. Black Belt has this type of lasting impact around the globe.”
—Jim Arvanitis

“Congratulations to Black Belt for half a century of pioneering work in traditional martial arts and self-defense.”
—Massad Ayoob

“My congratulations on 50 years of making the finest martial arts magazine in the world. I’ve seen the torch of Black Belt lit by founder Mito Uyehara, then passed on to Michael James and now to Cheryl Angelheart. May you have another 50 years of success.”
—Richard Bustillo

“Being the first international martial arts publication, Black Belt inspired a whole generation to strive for perfection of character via the martial arts. This mission was achieved by its technical, historical and philosophical articles that enriched, educated and added to the martial artist’s training. I found that the magazine’s influence was even greater outside the USA, where it helped create a viable martial arts community that transcended nationality, religion and race. It opened a ‘window to the world.’

“I bought my first copy in 1971. I was a kid who’d started training in karate in my native Israel, and I was captivated by the content. At that time, there was only one store in the whole country that sold Black Belt. I still remember the excitement of taking the bus once a month to that store and eagerly reading the new issue on the way back home. I was unaware at the time, but it also improved my English vocabulary.

“Over the years, I was fortunate to travel to many places, either as a filmmaker or martial arts practitioner, and I discovered that there were many people like me who were influenced by the magazine—from Sweden, France and Bulgaria to Lithuania, South Africa and India.”

“Black Belt is not just a magazine; it’s an institution.”
—Isaac Florentine

“My, how time goes by! I started getting Black Belt at issue No. 3. The first and second issues were the talk of our dojo and the entire martial arts world—I had to see what the excitement was about. I was a green belt at the time. I now have over 50 years in the martial arts and have been a steady reader for that many years. Black Belt is and always has been the world’s leading martial arts magazine.

Through those 50 years, I’ve been educated and informed about what was happening. I’ve also been part of many stories and fortunate enough to have appeared on the cover. Thank you.

“Over the years, I’ve received many awards, won many trophies and had many honors from cities, states and even the federal government. But my greatest honor was being named Black Belt’s 1997 Instructor of the Year.”
—George A. Dillman

“I applaud Publisher Cheryl Angelheart, Executive Editor Robert W. Young and all the staff members who work so hard to produce this progressive state-of-the-art periodical. Fifty years of dedication and service is a milestone in publishing history.

“Because of the efforts of Black Belt, the sheer number of styles and systems that grew from obscurity to mainstream is huge. That is equally true for the great martial artists worldwide who have graced the magazine’s pages and openly shared their arts. There would be no knowledge of ‘who’s who’ in the martial arts if not for this cutting-edge magazine.”
—Kelly S. Worden

“Congratulations to Black Belt for a half-century of publishing. Although I haven’t been reading you for quite that long, being just a tad shy of 47 myself, I’ve learned a ton from your unmatched coverage of the techniques, training, personalities and worldviews that make martial arts so important to me and so central to my books.”
—Barry Eisler

“Much has occurred since I spotted and purchased Black Belt’s diminutive first edition in 1961. During those years, almost everything we knew about the martial arts came from Black Belt, and those who were included within its pages were known by all other martial artists. Now, there are other magazines, as well as the Internet, but Black Belt continues to be the pacesetter for all aspects of today’s evolving martial arts panorama.

“Happy birthday, Black Belt. I have enjoyed and profited from you for all your life and much of mine.”
—Sam Allred

“Black Belt was and is the magazine every fan wants to read and every martial artist wants to be in. I’ve been reading it for decades, and 50 years of publishing proves it’s No. 1. It remains the premier magazine by consistently covering the past, present and future of the martial arts.”
—Louis Neglia