The American Karate Black Belt (A.K.B.B.A.) began as the Southwest Karate Black Belt Association (S.W.K.B.B.A.). Under the guidance of Mr. Allen Steen, American and Texas Karate Pioneer, the association became one of the largest and most dynamic martial arts associations in the world.
Initially composed of Black Belts from Allen Steen's Texas Karate Institute empire along with other top Black Belt competitors and promoters from the Southwest United States. Some of the notable Black Belts include David "Dai Won" Moon (winner of 3 consecutive U.S. Championships in the 1960's) and Sam Allred (a New Mexico Karate Pioneer who promoted the famous Central North American Karate Championships).
The Association was a virtual Who’s Who of the top karate competitors in the United States. Association Black Belts literally dominated the top 10 rankings throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s. The association was founded by Allen Steen, Grand Champion winner of the 1964 Long Beach Internationals and promoter of the United States Karate Championships. Among its membership were such karate pioneers and martial arts greats as Mr. J. Pat Burleson (winner of many National titles in the 1960’s and promoter of the famous “rough and tough” Texas State Karate Championships), Mike Anderson, Skipper Mullins, Demetrius "The Greek" Havanas, Walt Bone, Al Dacascos, Ed Daniels, and Fred Wren, just to name a few.
Karate in Texas was hard and tough, throughout the entire country, the Allen Steen brand of Tae Kwon Do - Chung Do Kwan was known as “Texas Blood and Guts Karate". So tough were A.K.B.B.A. Black Belts, that one national tournament competitor in the 1970’s commented on why he came to a national tournament but didn’t compete, “I didn’t travel over a thousand miles to have my teeth knocked out by some Texan.” Such was the reputation of the Black Belts of the association that an article in the Black Belt Magazine once commented “anyone in the tournament facing someone wearing the red and black Southwest Karate Black Belt Association emblem knows he's in for a tough fight."
The Association grew so large throughout the nation that it no longer was really a “Southwest” association, but an American association. So in 1972, the name was changed to the American Karate Black Belt Association, and the former red and black shield of the S.W.K.B.B.A. was changed to the now familiar red, white and blue A.K.B.B.A. shield.
In the late 1970’s, after years of owning and operating many successful karate school chains and successfully producing international tournament competitions, Allen Steen entered into other business avenues. He settled into the king of all Texas enterprises, the oil business. He began to divest his vast holdings in the karate schools and tournaments to various students and friends. Mr. Walt Mason and Mr. Barry Guimbellot purchased the Richardson School of Allen Steen’s Texas Karate Institutes. Walt Mason and Barry Guimbellot opened and successfully opened and managed several other Texas Karate Institutes in the surrounding Dallas, Texas area.
With Allen Steen’s departure from the helm, many of his highly capable associates and students, who had long been established in their own schools while obtaining national reputations in their own rights, began to form or focus on their own organizations.
Under Allen Steen’s direction the A.K.B.B.A. had gained the reputation of one of the highest standards in the world in requirements for school quality and belt ranking. Whether it was true or not, the comment was often made that “a Brown Belt from the A.K.B.B.A. was good for a 3rd Degree Black Belt most anywhere else.”
The face of tournament karate changed, and so did the karate school business during the 1980’s. The innovation of safety gear, the increasing numbers of schools and tournaments, led to a more unified set of rules and practices throughout the country in the open system tournament competition. The old “Blood and Guts Texas Karate” was no longer the standard in the Southwest.
In the late 1970’s Mr. J. Pat Burleson, an original member of the S.W.K.B.B.A., and charter Board member of the A.K.B.B.A. Southwest Region, moved out of Texas to pursue other business opportunities. He turned over the reigns of the AKBBA to Mr. Bob Nuttall, of Weatherford, TX. A close friendship had developed over the years, between Bob Nuttall and Walt Mason, who was creating a lot of positive activity with the A.K.B.B.A. Mr. Nuttall decided to turn over all of reins to Walt Mason and form one large organization. With a new interest by many schools in Texas, under the leadership of Walt Mason and Bob Nuttall, the A.K.B.B.A. took on a new direction, that of a “fraternal business martial arts organization". Maintaining all of the guidelines and requirements, set forth by Allen Steen, the A.K.B.B.A. added a new zeal towards: business ethics, cooperation, educational excellence, and a success goal for each A.K.B.B.A. school.
Still a number of the original A.K.B.B.A. black belt groups were around. Still teaching and practicing Texas Karate the rough and tough 1960’s & 1970’s A.K.B.B.A. way. Several attempts to re-establish the standard and tough style were made, but met with varied levels of success. Many instructors had given up their A.K.B.B.A. affiliation rights and tried forming new organizations. One member of the original A.K.B.B.A., Charles Bouton, from Lubbock, Texas, still continued to use the independent region that Allen Steen had granted to him in the early 1980’s. Bouton is sill active with many fine black belts doing a system called Chin Sook Hage Kwan. Another Texas Karate Institute in Lubbock, Texas, previously owned by Mr. Andy White, is now owned and operated by Mr. Tom Downs. Mr. Downs chose to continue with the original A.K.B.B.A. and Tae Kwon Do - Chung Do Kwan system. A student of Tom Downs, Klay Pittman opened another successful school in Lubbock, TX. American Karate Academy, follows in his instructors footsteps and Chung Do Kwan.
With the return of Mr. J. Pat Burleson to the Dallas-Ft. Worth area in 1990, Mr. Walt Mason and Mr. Bob Nuttall, along with their friend and instructor proceeded to create a membership of the Board of Governors to govern the A.K.B.B.A.
After the passing on Mr. Walt Mason in 2001, his son Mr. David Mason took over the reigns of the organization. Under the leadership of Mr. Bob Nuttall and Mr. David Mason, the organization proudly sports a huge membership base with approximately 32 schools in Dallas, Ft. Worth, Keller, Plano, Richardson, Mesquite, Weatherford, Midland, Lubbock, Roundrock, and Houston, Texas. In addition to Texas, the A.K.B.B.A has affiliates in Oklahoma, Washington, California, and Canada.
The first generation of Allen Steen's students are, on the whole, past the half century mark in age now, but the Texas "Blood and Guts" style and standards they practiced still lives on under the American Karate Black Belt Association and Texas Karate Institute.
We want to hear from you! If you are interested in membership information, please contact Mr. David Mason, Member - Board of Governors for the American Karate Black Belt Association at the contact information below.