Black Karate Federation
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As the 1960's came to a close, a small group of young black men gathered together at Van Ness Park in South Central Los Angeles. They were training in a relatively new art form of fighting that had only been instructed openly in the mainland US since the late 50's.
Members included; Steve Sanders, Jerry Smith, Ron Chapel, Donnie Williams, Karl Armelin, Frenchie Humble, Curtis Pulliam, Isaiah Williams, Curtis Faust, Lloyd Francis, Charles Murphy, Jim Kelly, Bob Owens and Hugh Van Putnam. Some of these original martial artists became known as "The Magnificent Seven", and from this line up the Black Karate Federation rose to be one of the most powerful fighting systems, dominating the tournament circuit in the 1970's.
The Black Karate Federation was formed in 1969 in response to an environment of racism against black competitors in martial arts tournaments in Southern California. Black martial artists were forced to compete against each other as a way of eliminating many from reaching higher levels in tournaments. Missed calls and tainted or prejudiced decisions created an unbalanced and unfair disadvantage against black martial artists. The decisive event that helped to motivate the black martial artists of Southern California to answer the constant prejudice and unfairness displayed in tournaments was in 1969 when Steve Muhammad lost against Joe Lewis in a highly contested decision. The BKF was designed to act as a means of representation for black martial artists just as the Japanese Karate Association (JKA), and the Chinese Martial Arts Association represented their members.
Of the group of the “Magnificent Seven” the most prominent was Steve (Muhammad) Sanders. He became the “catalyst” that helped to bring together the other fighters, and when the BKF was officially launched, he was unanimously elected to be the first President. Vice President was Jerry Smith, Secretary was Cliff Stewart.
In 1971 the first official BKF School was opened in Los Angeles, and was known as the “103rd Street School ”The BKF became a force to be reckoned with in Sport Karate tournaments. With Jerry Smith as captain, the BKF team won the International Karate Championships three times in the early 1970’s.
Coat of Arms/Crest
- Williams, Sanders, BKF: (Landers, Frank (1985). Frank Landers Seishindo Kenpo, vol.3: Encyclopedia of Knowledge, (a Teacher's Guide). Facta Publications).
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