Martial Arts Business Magazine

Martial Arts Business Magazine

How it got started and …

WHO was the FIRST?

You may wonder how Martial Arts Business Magazine got started. If you’re not a 20-year martial arts veteran you may never have heard of it before.

It was the brainchild of me – Ric Black in 1989. Yep – that’s 20 years ago, give or take a month or two.

You may wonder by the pod casts and the articles I am writing whether or not I have a degree in journalism or something that would qualify me to write – nope – I just like to put things on paper and hope people respond favorably.

Let me tell you how it all happened…

It began on a hotter than usual summer day in 1986, when a student of mine, Mike Petryzak, came to my house with a magazine in his hand. It was newsprint and when I looked through it, I wasn’t overly impressed but had to admit it was something I thought I could do easily as well.

Making that bold statement was the beginning of several weeks’ worth of work I have never regretted.

I and my business partner, John Ritchie, began a Florida-based tournament magazine called Florida Martial Arts Magazine to report on martial artists and tournament info around the state. It was composed on an IBM 8089 computer and printed on a 9-pin impact printer (yes, ancient technology). The photographs were digitized with a commercial scanner and resized to fit the space I laid out; the pages were then cut out with scissors and pasted on a storyboard for the printer to create a negative. Then the book would be printed to form a 32-page newsprint magazine.

The first endeavor, as proud as I was about it, had a black cover and got black residue all over your fingers, but at least it was done.



This cover features John Graden, who goes on to create North American Professional Martial Arts, a pioneer in the business of building a greater martial arts school business.

I quickly found out it was a lot of work and creating a good-looking layout without proper knowledge was a poor idea, so I sought out a graphic artist to help me through my learning curve.

The commercial artist, Cheryl Layton, took a look at the first publication and genuinely grimaced.

“It’s o.k. for a first try but let’s see if we can improve on the next issue,” she said.

We did, and the next four looked almost professional in the layout. Still on newsprint but no solid black covers again.


In proceeding months we got bolder and in 1988, we launched a regional publication called International Martial Arts Journal.

Our quest to become better took us to Ed Parker’s Internationals in California, to Jack Hwang’s in Texas, and to other tournaments around the country. We invested in better computer equipment, and bought Aldus Pakemaker, one of the first desktop publishing software programs, primarily used by professional printers to complete page layouts and compose printable books, magazines and manuscripts.

Like everything else, it took two weeks to learn the program and we were once again on our way to creating a well-designed product.

In 1989, we were contacted by a Denver-based publishing company about our magazine. They wished to talk with me about a possible acquisition. In two weeks I would be in Denver to begin what turned out to be the quest that would last for more than 20-years.

In February 1989, Martial Arts Business Magazine was born.

In the first year, we produced the FIRST-EVER business trade publication for the martial arts industry and three other issues.


And in 1990, the FIRST Martial Arts Buyers’ Guide.

The 1990 Martial Arts Buyers’ Guide featured over 100 manufacturers and business owners who contributed and sold to the martial arts industry. There would be many copy cats in the following years.


And the FIRST Martial Arts Business Trade EXPO in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This tradeshow drew many noted martial artists and business owners such as Century Martial Arts Supply founder, Mike Dillard, Sid Campbell, Eric Lee, International Martial Arts Management Systems, Jim Mather and dozens of others who traveled from many points of the country to attend.

It wasn’t like the extravaganzas you see today, just a small 30-booth tradeshow with a cocktail party, demonstrations and seminars for business.

We created the FIRST martial arts school software, Martial Arts Resource Software (MARS) created by programmer, Bart Jenkins, with my contributions. It was bundled with an IBM-compatible computer and sold for $1,999. In those days, computers weren’t as plentiful as today and usually only businesses had them.

Martial Arts Resource Software (MARS)

Little did I know this was history in the making and that it would lead to many off-shoots where like entrepreneurs were getting started in similar martial arts business ventures.

Martial Arts Business Magazine as a dot com has been developed to give a forum to those of us with decades of martial arts experience.  As a practitioner and teacher for more than 50-years, I can well speak about the martial arts in its infancy in America.

It will include audio podcasts, video clips, and pertinent articles about our major divisions:

  • Law Enforcement – By veteran law enforcement officer and 8th Dan Kirk VanDegrift
  • Disability/Amputee – By Crystal Gross, a victim of a near-fatal auto accident in 1992; which claimed the life of one driver and caused Crystal to lose her leg below the knee, as well as sustaining life-threatening injuries to her heart, liver and diaphragm and numerous broken bones. Her contribution is designed to help our men and women from the armed forces coping with the loss of a limb or living life with a disability as a direct result of their service, from someone with first-hand experience.
  • Martial Arts – By Dr. Ric Black, a 52-year martial arts veteran, school owner, businessman and magazine publisher.

My family began in the martial arts with my grandfather, Lee Black, in Shanghai China in 1918, when he began the study of Bak Mei and continued with my uncles in Japan and Okinawa from 1932, on and with myself studying Judo in 1958, and having the privilege over the next four decades to study and be mentored by some of the finest martial artists and gentlemen in the world.

No one toots your horn for you so it was my choice to do it myself and let the martial arts world know just WHO was FIRST.

Dr. Ric Black, OMD –10th Dan

Sansei – 3rd Generation Inheritor

Bunbu Ichi Zendo Budo/Bugei Kai

Director General:

United States Police Defensive Tactics Association

World Defense Tactics Association (in over 50 countries)

Martial Arts Business Magazine

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