Written by Illmatical | @
We’ve reached February, the month America ostensibly pauses to acknowledge the contributions of Black folks; like the one month shout out compensates for several hundred years of free labor. I know what you’re thinking, “Chill out chopsticks!” You ain’t Malcolm and my name isn’t Brother Baines; we ain’t walking in the yard, so you don’t need that lesson.
The Last Dragon is a martial arts film that has successfully transcended racial and ethnic boundaries. However, the protagonist of the film, although played by a biracial actor, if he was walking down the street today, he’d be labeled as a Black man. While delivering pizzas in Harlem, he’d be subjected to stop-and-frisk and the way the NYPD has been treating brothers recently, he’d be hella busy catching bullets with his teeth.
Before the month ends, we have to acknowledge the real life Bruce Leroys; the real life Sho’nuffs too. Like their Negro League counterparts, these brothers played and never got paid. There is more to Black martial arts than the late great Jim Kelly; masters whose stories come right out of a comic book.
This post is kings only, men who created their own viable martial arts systems, were accomplished fighters and were instrumental in pioneering organized fighting as we know it today. There was a golden age of martial arts, in America, the 1960s – 1970s; full contact tournaments on both coasts and the Midwest. Black martial artists dominated competition during this time.
In west Africa, a griot was a storyteller, a lyricist who persevered history. African American griots became rappers; they have spent more than enough time recanting tales of drug dealers, basketball legends, pimps and plenty of bars dedicated to big booty hoes.
Since they’ve failed to give you the lessons, it is time for this griot to grab the mic and drop science on the great Black martial arts masters. After Chuck Norris turned his back on martial arts (per Aaron Banks); when he took an “L” to Bruce Lee on film, all of the Black champions and fighters of the golden era ceased to exist; hence the name Forgotten Fury.
A student of boxing and later developing in Vee-Jitsu Ryu, he would create his own system known as Sanuces Jiu Jitsu. According to CMG Worldwide, he demonstrated his arts at the United Nations in 1971 and was later awarded by the Benin government in 1973.
According to several of his students, he trained the alphabet boys: DEA and the FBI. He was especially known for his Sanuces one finger roll out, which could be utilized for defense and attacking. I spoke to his wife several years ago, she mentioned that after he demonstrated in New York City years ago, Bruce Lee had shown interest in training with him; real talk. The grand master, known as “Musa,” passed in 2005.
Information pertaining to him is managed by CMG Worldwide, you can learn more about him here: http://www.cmgww.com/sports/powell
Dr. Moses Powell – Sanuces Ryu Jiu Jitsu
The Father of American Ninjitsu; the first American Ninja. Professor Duncan successfully demonstrated Ninjitsu in the 1960s, although receiving acknowledgement from the Japanese government, he was intentionally omitted from Black Belt magazine for several years. I mention Black Belt magazine because they have been considered the most reliable source of journalism pertaining to American martial arts. Their failure to acknowledge Professor Duncan and other great Black martial artists has radically affected the economics of the martial arts in America.
According to the bio on his website he was a member of the United States Marine Corp Judo team, where he earned a black belt, he was a master of Hakko Ryu Jujitsu, Dai-nippon Jujitsu Ryu, Sosuishi Ryu, Kin Dai Gakko Ryu, Aikido, Aiki-Jujitsu, Kempo, Kobujitsu (weaponry), and Shinobino-jitsu (Ninjitsu).
Ronald Duncan at Oriental World of Self Defense
He may look like Sho’nuff in this red outfit but watch closely at the end. He catches an arrow! #BruceLeroyStyle
Ronald Duncan on Racism in the Martial Arts
Professor Duncan was not a man to be trifled with. If you sat before him and looked into his eyes, you’ll see shadows of those who perished by his hand. He passed away in, 2012, his son Gregory Duncan continues his legacy. He can be contacted here: www.facebook.com/gregory.duncan.33
The first Black national karate champion. Believe it or not, you’ve seen him, but didn’t realize you were looking at greatness. Ever see that random clip of Bruce Lee throwing a punch at a random brother’s face at what appeared to be a tournament? Well, that random dude was Vic Moore and he and Lee did not participate in a fight, it was nothing more than a speed drill, which took place at the 1967 Ed Parker Long Beach International.
Black Belt magazine’s editor at the time, deliberately discredited Vic Moore while praising Bruce’s performance; he gave no account of the full exchange between the two men. Moore protest the exchange, emphatically stating that the he blocked Bruce Lee’s first two blows to the chest and then Bruce flashed a punch to his head; although the two had agreed to simply throw punches to the chest area. He stated that after that exchange, he also was able to strike Lee with his punches.
Putting the Bruce Lee debate to the side, Vic Moore has an impressive resume as a martial artist. According to the website USADOJO.Com he initially trained as a boxer, and later joining the United States Karate Association, a tenth degree black belt who successfully placed in every tournament from 1965 – 1975; defeating notable fighters including: Mike Stone, Chuck Norris, Jim Kelly, Joe Lewis and Bill “Superfoot” Wallace. Alongside Joe Lewis, he would introduce Kickboxing to the American public on the Merv Griffin show in 1973. Vic Moore is alive and well, he can be contacted here: www.facebook.com/victor.moore.5688
All praises be to Allah. Karriem was the first Black man in American to develop his own functioning karate system. According to his website the KA system consists of 25 styles of fighting. He developed legitimate fighters who were successful in tournaments during the 60s and 70s. He retired from Karate in 1977 and moved into boxing and kickboxing.
His championship kickboxing fight with Jeff Smith was the under-card fight for the Muhammad Ali and George Frazier, Thrilla In Manilla fight. He currently lives in New Jersey and he is working on his own martial arts documentary. He can be contacted on Facebook: www.facebook.com/karriemabdallah
Thrilla in Manilla Undercard: Karriem ABdAllah vs Jeff Smith
Karriem breaks down why Black artist struggle, due to the movies, speaks on Moses Powell and Ron Duncan:
Ron Van Clief
The Black Dragon; the original Bruce Leroy. Based on what I’ve been told, The Last Dragon mirrored Ron Van Clief’s life in many ways, he was the Black guy walking around Chinatown and fighting in underground tournaments; accomplished international fighter as well: 8 time US Champion and 5 time World Champion.
According to his website he holds a black belt or equivalent in the following forms: Karate, Ju-Jitsu, Aiki-Jitsu, Kung-Fu, Arnis de Mano and Zen Jutsu. He would eventually merge Karate and Kung Fu to create his own system, Chinese Goju. Aside from all of that, he’s the guy who trained Taimak.
You can contact him on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ron.vanclief
The Black Kung Fu Experience
One of the greatest Taekwondo players that ever lived, dominated Taekwondo tournaments for years. When you do the knowledge to him, you’ll find the names of brothers Mike Warren and Albert Cheeks, members of the 1973 USA Taekwondo team that went to Korea and received 2nd place. You can find more information about him here: www.lacancha.com/hayeshof.html
Karriem ABdullah speaking on Joe Hayes:
No disrespect, but much of what I hear about this master is more Sho’nuff that Bruce Leroy. Not saying that he was a bad man, but he was a teacher who was not to be trifled with, physically punishing students if they entered the dojo overweight or unkept.
According to his website he holds black belts or equivalents in the following: Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Sanuces Ju-jitsu, and Nisei Goju Karate. In 1984, he founded Zujitsu Ryu: The Art of Zulu.
You can learn more about him here: www.zujitsu.com/zuluBio.html
…but beware of the red glow.
Uptown baby, the Harlem World martial artist (per USADJO.com) was instrumental in pioneering bare knuckle full contact karate. In addition, he was the first martial artist to allow women to participate in martial arts competition. Editorial changes at Black Belt magazine during the mid 70s provided
acknowledgement of Hamilton in the the June, 1975 article THE GREAT BLACK HOPE.
The article focused on his effective teaching style, using martial arts to save youths in a community infested with Nicky Barnes’ poison. You can learn more about him by contacting his student and friend Raymond McRinna: www.facebook.com/raymond.mcrinna
Master of Shotokan karate. The real life Sho’nuff, red glow originator and the man who founded the infamous Tong Dojo, located in Brooklyn. According to Black Martial Artists website, he received his initial training while in Japan, serving in the military and many of his students were successful champions and still continue his legacy today.
Cofield was a bad-ass, one man who knew him, said that Samuel Jackson’s role in Pulp Fiction; Jackson was doing his best in that movie to emulate Cofield’s nature. When I get permission I’ll tell you about when he had Bruce Lee shook, all I can tell you now is “Brooklyn motherfucker!”
You can learn more about him by visiting: www.facebook.com/pages/My-Sensei-George-Cofield/167947099982198
AKA Sijo Saabir Quwi Muhammad (born Steve Sanders). Founder of The Black Karate Foundation (BKF) and according to the BKF site, he won the Long Beach International Karate tournament nine times during the 1960s.
Despite successful play, there was overwhelming discrimination; he along with other brothers decided to form the BKF. He was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame in 1982. He would later create a form of fighting known as The Invisible Fist. The grand master can be contacted here: www.facebook.com/steve.muhammad.9
“Ghost in the house!” He was the first Black heavy weight champion, both Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson admired and emulated his defensive boxing skills. Boxing is one of the best martial arts on the planet, you’re dealing with mastery of hand combat. The only issue here is that you don’t get an Asian influence.
If people viewed boxing as a martial art, the paradigm of martial arts economics would be changed forever.
Black boxers, instead of retiring penniless ,they’d have dojos or fighting schools and people would appreciate the sweet science that Black men have mastered. One day, when I’m old and grey, I’ll share an interview I had with Roger Mayweather, there is a reason why African Americans have been successful, with their hands.
Thomas La Puppet
The first Black martial artist to enter the Black Belt Hall of Fame. According to Black Martial Artists website his successful tournament career in the late 1960s, included winning the All-American karate tournament on several occasions. A black belt in Karate, Jujitsu and Kenpo.
You can learn more about him here: www.blackmartialartist.com/TomLaPuppet.html
Sensei La Puppet Knife Attack Defense
Martial Arts: Made in Africa
I’m not free-styling for battle rap sake, I’m doing so to acknowledge the vets, the old heads; doing so to enlighten. You-must-learn! Asian Karate master Mas Oyama’s book “Advanced Karate” mentions that the earliest documentation on organized combat originated from Egypt in 4000 B.C.; that was long before the Arabs entered in 7th century C.E.
So as far as martial arts are concerned, “We Made It!” Black men need to know that there is more to them than Jay-Z’s bloodline of kings, queens and Michael Jordan rings; that being the way of the warrior.
Just like the interior of your favorite CD. I’ll give shout outs: Can’t forget my crew The Fighting Black Kings, featuring the great William Oliver. Respect to all the elders on the Black Martial artists website.
Peace to Little John Davis, Bill McClould, Rico Guy, Anthony Muhammad, Donnie Williams, Oso Tayari Casel, the late Kenneth Pardue, Nathan Ingram, Sifu Carl Albright, them boys in Brooklyn might get tight if I don’t mention Dr. Charles Elmore. There are too many masters from the DC area and the Midwest; I use to get it in Ohio!
Peace to the Asian masters who taught Black men when others wouldn’t; even though y’all were just giving us back science we created long ago. Peace to Count Dante for training brothers in the Chi when no one else would; Floyd Webb when are we going to get that movie?
Feel Free to Share Your Opinion
Some of you are reading this blog post, simultaneously shaking your head, saying how could he forget this guy, or how what about forget brother-so-and-so,
but that is the beauty of the internet. We can cipher, enlighten and give lessons; make sure that everyone gets knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Brothers gonna work it out; ya dig?
Years ago, martial artist Professor Watts told me that certain Black men, they get Nigga-Tron syndrome, transforming and changing on their people. This griot ain’t never been partial to the Decepticons or the Autobots, but here I am, representing the only way I know how; strictly for my ninjas.
~Clarke Illmatical 無敵將軍
Clarke Illmatical is a writer from Queens, NY. He is the creator, director and writer of the martial arts fantasy fiction story MASTERNEVER AND THE FLOW OF DEATH In addition to writing for The Last Dragon Tribute; his work has appeared in The Amsterdam News, Norwood News, CLOUT magazine, Kung Fu Cinema and The Streets Are Saying Things. Twitter: @illmaticalmind
TheLastDragonTribute.com is a blog dedicated to preserving the joy of Berry Gordy’s 1985 Motown meets Kung Fu cult classic The Last Dragon & Official Partner of The Last Dragon 30th Anniversary Celebration. Follow us from the links below for your daily dose of the Glow!