Q: Who is the AKBBA/CSHK?

A: We are incorporated in the state of Texas as an Amateur Athletic Association whose purposes are 1) to assist our members in advanced knowledge of the martial arts, and 2) to offer legitimate black belt certifications to our members and to provide legitimate, credible high-dan black belt promotions.

 Q: What is your history?

A: See “Our History” for a detailed account but briefly, we were founded by Allen R. Steen (the acknowledged “father of Texas Karate,” and International Champion) in 1964 as the Southwest Karate Black Belt Association. Our current High Dan Board all have legitimate lineage back to Grandmaster Steen and the other founders who include Pat Burleson, Ed Daniel, Ronnie Cox and other pioneers from the 1960s.

 Q: What does the High Dan Board do?

A: Internationally known, they all hold a legitimate 8th Dan or higher and act as the official Board of Directors for the Corporation. They direct all standards for admission to the Association and for black belt certifications. The Board has an elected Chairman who presides at HDB meetings and public functions and who works closely with the Executive Director. The HDB also has an elected Vice-Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer.

 Q: How do I become a member?

A: Membership is open to those who meet our requirements and who agree to abide by our standards. There are two basic levels: Black Belt ($30 per year) and Student ($20 per year). Students may ONLY join under the auspices of a Black Belt Member. There is no application form required for a Student Member. Black Belt applicants should fill out two forms:

1) the Black Belt Application form
2) and the Resumé form (both can be found on the “Apply” page).

If the applicant is not personally known to an existing Black Belt Affiliate Instructor (see below) or High Dan Board member they may be asked to provide demonstration of an appropriate level of skill and teaching ability by either an in-person visit or by video. This is not an exam. We merely wish to determine your experience level. After your application is received a vote of the membership committee is taken within 2 to 4 weeks.

There is an additional membership level known as an Affiliate Instructor. As an Affiliate Instructor you are entitled to award Association Certified Black Belt Certificates to your students. An applicant for Affiliate Instructor must hold at least a third Dan, be a school instructor AND have at least ten Student Members under him or her. As an added bonus, after your ten members have paid for their memberships your Affiliate Instructor membership is FREE.

 Q: What are the procedures for rank certification?

A: Rank certification is the prerogative of the High Dan Board. Since we accept members from multiple styles, the colors and requirements of student ranks will vary. Because we only accept instructors with high standards, we trust them to appropriately train and promote their own underbelt students. We do NOT provide underbelt rank certificates.

We DO provide Black Belt Certificates for promotions granted by our Black Belt Affiliate Instructor Members (not just individual black belt members) up to 5th Dan Black Belt. Requests must be made in advance and certificate fees apply.

 Q: What about those Black Belt promotions?

A: In Black Belt ranks there are generally 10 degrees (Dan). Under our standards, 1st – 8th Dan are “earned” rank levels and are awarded after an extensive resume review and, typically, a physical examination/performance.

The AKBBA/CSHK certifies promotions of 1st through 5th Dan awarded by a Black Belt Affiliate Instructor Member who holds a rank at least two degrees higher (i.e. a 4th Dan may award a 2nd Dan, etc.). Certificates must be ordered well in advance of the event. Arrangements can often be made to have a High Dan Board Member present at such promotions—usually for an honorarium.

We do NOT require that all your Black Belt promotions be certified by the Association, although it would seem advantageous to your school to have your Black Belts certified by an internationally recognized association.

AKBBA/CSHK promotions of 6th Dan to 8th Dan are determined solely by the High Dan Board and are only available to Black Belts who have been members for at least two years and who have made outstanding contributions to the martial arts and to this Association. Note that merely having possessed a given rank for a certain number of years is not sufficient reason for a promotion. After a resumé review (which can take up to 8 weeks) and the determination of the Board that a promotion is warranted, at least one member of the High Dan Board should be present on the examination/presentation board. Note that the promotion is being granted by the Association and NOT by any individual member of the High-Dan Board (unless he or she is actually your instructor, of course). In additional to the certificate fee, there is an honorarium charge for HDB members to attend the event. See the “Standards” for time in grade requirements and other details.

We consider the 9th and 10th Dan as “honorary” or “positional” ranks. These are awarded exclusively by vote of the High Dan Board based on a long tenure and exceptional accomplishments in the martial arts and to this Association. They may be awarded to Black Belt Members of the Association who are, usually, over 50 years of age and have in excess of 40 years training and distinguished service.

Q: Do you give “equivalent” certificates to Black Belts who earned their rank elsewhere?

A: Yes, you may request an “equivalent” Black Belt certificate for a rank earned outside of the AKBBA/CSHK. We will only furnish this certificate through the request of a current Affiliate Instructor Member or High-Dan Board Member (not just an individual Black Belt Member). The requestor must state that they have evaluated the person and found them equivalent in all qualifications to what the Association requires. The certificate will be sent to the requestor to present at an appropriate time.

Q: What about patches, cards, certificates and awards?

A: The Association patch is furnished to each accepted member (both Black Belt and Student). Membership cards are also given to each current member.

Black Belt certificates are 11” x 17” parchment. Promotions to those between 12 and 17 years of age are marked with a “junior” designation. 6th Dan and higher certificates are on 16” x 20” heavy parchment and contain HDB signatures and official Association seals and chops.

Other special awards may be given by the Board such as Instructor of the Year, School of the Year, or Outstanding Achievement in the Martial Arts.

 Q: Are there any other benefits to becoming a member?

A: Besides the opportunity for your black belt rank to be certified by an internationally recognized sanctioning body, you’ll have access to the pioneers of the martial arts not only in Texas, but across the country. You will be able to participate in Association sanctioned competitions, clinics, and seminars at discount prices.

As a member in good standing of the AKBBA/CSHK you will receive advice from experienced masters and grandmasters in technical and business areas. You will be able to wear the gold, red, white and blue shield on your uniform and you can proudly display the symbol giving you added credibility in the community of martial artists.

We welcome your participation in this historic (five decade old) Association.