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Black Karate Federation

BKF History

“For every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction”

~ Isaac Newton


The Birth of the

Black Karate Federation

One word to describe America in the 1960s is ‘discrimination.’ So that we’re on the same
page, we understand a form of discrimination is defined as “unjust or prejudicial treatment
of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of ethnicity (race).”

Sports are designed to be a competition between individuals or teams to determine which
competitor is better. In a racially charged America, black Americans were not seen as being
superior… in anything. Black martial artists were forced to compete against each other to
reduce the number of black fighters that would compete at higher levels in tournaments. The
talents of the black martial artists were being systematically oppressed. When competing
against their non-black counterparts, missed calls and prejudiced decisions created an
unbalanced and unfair disadvantage against black martial artists. In a sport that expresses
itself through the art of fighting, who would fight for the oppressed black practitioner?
Organized representation did not exist to give relief or to speak out on behalf of the black
martial artist beaten by racist politics. The decisive event that helped motivate black martial
artists to respond to the constant prejudice against them in tournaments was in 1969 when
Steve Muhammad lost against Joe Lewis in a highly contested decision.

In response to an environment of racism against black competitors in martial arts
tournaments in Southern California, the Black Karate Federation (the “BKF”) was formed,
and black martial artists found its voice. Its earliest pioneers known as the “Magnificent
Seven” trained in relatively new fighting arts. The most prominent was Steve Muhammad
(formerly known as Steve Sanders) that brought together the other fighters. The Black
Karate Federation as an organization and a fighting science became a force to be reckoned
with in martial arts tournaments and went on to win several International Karate
Championships in the 1970s.

The Black Karate Federation was always about oppressed people.  It has evolved to include a diverse group of people and continues to give voice to and is a beacon for oppressed people.

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