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World's Greatest Martial Arts Magazines

Updated: Mar 9

black belt list

World's Greatest Martial Arts Magazines

The debate over what truly defines the world's greatest Martial Arts Magazines is a nuanced one, with various perspectives on the criteria. To address this, the team at Black Belt and its publisher embarked on a meticulous process to establish a fair and comprehensive evaluation. 

Delving into the magazines' enduring impact and legacy within the martial arts community over time, we carefully selected 8 publications that have not only stood the test of time but have also left an indelible mark on their dedicated readership, ensuring the preservation of History and the art form for years to come.

The Black Belt List of the Greatest Martial Arts Magazines of All Time 

  1. Black Belt

  2. Inside Kung Fu

  3. Official Karate  

  4. Tae Kwon Do Times

  5. Combat

  6. Fighters

  7. Karate Illustrated

  8. Traditional Karate

By the Numbers 


Year Est.

Last Published Year

Number of Years

Issues published

Black Belt





Official Karate





Tae Kwon Do Times





Inside Kung Fu















Karate Illustrated





Traditional Karate





Black Belt Plus

Black Belt

1961 - Present 

700 Issues 

63 years and counting 

Founder and original publisher: Mitoshi  “Mito” Uyehara

Black Belt was founded in 1961 by Hawaii-based Mitoshi Uyehara. The first magazine was produced and sold for ten cents and was put together on the kitchen floor of Uyehara's home in 1958. Much of the early coverage included Japanese arts but the magazine was very progressive for the time and featured the first female on the cover in 1964, and the first Black martial artist on the cover in 1968. 

The magazine also discovered and provided a global showcase launching stars including Chuck Norris, Joe Lewis, Bill Wallace, and a young Bruce Lee, who contributed many articles to the publication during the 1960s. Uyehara, also a martial artist, collaborated with Lee's and gave him a platform for legendary works as the "Tao of Jeet Kune Do."

Now in its 64th year, Black Belt remains steadfast to the original mission of providing the best coverage of the martial arts and showcasing the biggest and brightest stars from every martial arts style.

black belt

Inside Kung Fu 


567 Issues

38 years 

Founder and Publisher: Curtis Wong 

In the 1970s, Curtis Wong was a trailblazer ahead of his time. With an air of swagger and undeniable style, he navigated through Hollywood with grace, bolstered by his striking/fashionable long hair appearance and iconic Rolls-Royce. He exuded a larger-than-life presence.

During the global Kung Fu craze, Wong seized the opportunity and launched Inside Kung Fu, a publication that stood in contrast to the more traditional Black Belt Magazine. Both magazines, based in Los Angeles, cultivated their own stars and unique identities. Inside Kung Fu, spanning over 500 issues, boasted luminaries like James Lew, Douglas and the legendary Jackie Chan.

Although Inside Kung Fu is no longer in circulation, its impact on martial arts history remains undeniable. 

inside kung fu

Black Belt Mag Articles

Official Karate 


222 Issues 

45 years 

Founder: Al Weiss

Al Weiss, publisher of Official Karate magazine who founded it in 1969, was also the heart and soul of the magazine. Although the magazine included international coverage, it also was a major advocate and showcase for many top New York and East Coast based martial artists.

Official Karate is the second longest running martial arts publication and lasted 45 years with 222 issues published and featured such stars of the time like Ron Duncan, Moses Powell, William Oliver, Joe Jennings and Paul Vizzio. 

official karate

Tae Kwon Do Times


245 Issues

40 years 

Founder publisher: Chung Eun Kim

Tae Kwon Do Times was founded in 1980 by Chung Eun Kim (1941–2010), a tae kwon do master, and his wife, Soja Kim. The magazine was devoted to the Korean martial art. It featured articles by a wide range of authors, including He-Young Kimm, Thomas Kurz, Scott Shaw, and Mark Van Schuyver.

Tae Kwon Do Times is also one of five named top publications listed in Black Belt Magazine's reader surveys in 1999.  

The magazine had an incredible run of 40 years and is the 3rd longest running martial arts magazine in history and published 245 magazines.  Today, Taekwondo Times stands as an enduring symbol of unity within the Taekwondo community as the magazine continues to inspire, educate, and connect martial artists across the globe.

Tae Kwon Do Times

Bruce Lee Merch on Black Belt Store

Combat Magazine


434 Issues

Combat UK Magazine held the title of the largest martial arts publication in the United Kingdom, offering a blend of technical insights and exclusive interviews with prominent figures in the UK martial arts scene. While magazines like Black Belt concentrated on martial arts in the United States, Combat UK directed its focus towards the British martial arts landscape. Additionally, during the Kung Fu craze that swept the world in the 1970s, Combat UK eagerly embraced and covered the phenomenon, reflecting the global martial arts trends of the time.

combat magazine



390 Issues

Founder Publisher: Tim Ward 

Based in the United Kingdom, Fighters Magazine was founded by Tim Ward. Launched in 1978 under the title Fighters Monthly Magazine and later it changed its name to Fighters Magazine. Coverage was focused on UK biggest stars of traditional and full contact combat. 

fighters magazine

Martial Art Drills

Karate Illustrated 


31 years 

289 Issues

Founder: Mitoshi  “Mito” Uyehara

Karate Illustrated emerged as the definitive voice for sport karate, resonating for over three decades in the martial arts community. Born during the dynamic era of martial arts in the United States, it sprang forth as a companion to Black Belt Magazine, offering a specialized focus on the burgeoning sport aspect of karate. While Black Belt delved into traditional martial arts and self-defense, Karate Illustrated directed its spotlight towards the evolving realm of sport karate, encompassing both tournament competitions and full-contact events, including kickboxing.

Throughout the '70s and '80s, Karate Illustrated showcased the rise of new stars, capturing the essence of the era's martial arts scene. Renowned as the Sports Illustrated of the martial arts world, the magazine brought forth 289 issues, chronicling the triumphs and challenges of athletes and practitioners in the sport karate arena.

From the blood and guts era of martial arts in the United States to the global stage of sport karate, Karate Illustrated stood as a beacon of inspiration and insight, shaping the narrative of the sport and celebrating its diverse array of athletes and disciplines.

karate illustrated

Traditional Karate 


245 Issues

Traditional Karate magazine was a monthly United Kingdom magazine that was founded in 1987. Traditional Karate magazine became incorporated with Combat Magazine in 2009.

traditional karate

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