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The vision of Jack Dark Tae Kwon Do Champions is to build a special community by helping people get in shape and be safe while instilling the life skills and character of a true Martial Artist.
We uphold important values like self-discipline, patience, respect, self-control and integrity. We can help you achieve high self-esteem, a positive outlook, a spirit of constant improvement and an attitude that refuses to give up.
These values and life skills will lead to remarkable improvements in academics, careers and relationships, literally making a better community, one student at a time.
EMPOWERING LIVES THROUGH
Our History-Our Legacy
35th Street Karate System
This site is dedicated to the memories and tradition of Norfolk, Virginia's first karate school--the Authentic Karate Club, founded by Harold L. Hankins, Leon Nicholson, and Gaylord Patterson, with permission granted by Grandmaster Ki Whang Kim. Click here to access site.
It was a long, torturous, fascinating journey. It was a perilous road congested with prodigious pitfalls, and intriguing turns. Phenomenal is the man capable of surviving such an expedition. Harold Lee Hankins not only survived this road, he conquered it.
The journey began over fifty years ago, on the hazardous streets of the wrong side of Norfolk. A part of the city where you wake-up each day wondering whether you would be predator or prey. Each day brought with it new lessons in survival. Young Harold became a street warrior, not by choice—by necessity. This was a daily struggle of life and death.
However, as the Fates would allow, this warrior was also an award-winning scholar. So outstanding were his mental gifts that he was feared for his mind as well as his wits. People then, as now, often shuddered at the mere sound of his voice. He possessed the skill, knowledge, and determination, to have become a brilliant lawyer, or masterful surgeon. Circumstances forced him to sacrifice degrees in arts and sciences for degrees in other arts.
As a young man, Harold Hankins was thrust into boxing. His teacher, Roy Luson, was five times heavyweight champion of the Navy; only an injured hand prevented this knockout specialist from representing the USA in the 1956 Olympics. Luson built an elite core of young amateur boxers, which included Hankins. So viciously effective were these “farmers,” that they were banned from any further fights with the Navy’s champion pugilists.
Sensing there was more to fighting, Harold Hankins sought out qualified Masters in the Asian fighting arts. He wrote letters, made telephone calls, and traveled to meet them. He recruited and petitioned membership to build a school. The odds against him often seemed insurmountable.
Once he a found a Judo school and applied for membership. The Instructor blatantly insulted Hankins by telling him his race of people were inferior, unable to grasp and endure the training. “We find colored people lack the culture to learn this discipline,” he was informed.
Disappointed—but not discouraged, determined to learn Martial Arts, start his own school, and open its doors to any and all with a desire to train, Harold Hankins continued studying and traveling many miles, sacrificing pleasure for his principle. He opened the first Karate school in Norfolk, Virginia. Many world renown Masters contributed to this unique and profound school.
Some of the teachers are in the Black Belt Hall of Fame. Some were sadistic, brutal, ruthless, unsym -pathetic, intolerant of mistakes, or just downright mean. Sometimes Harold Hankins traversed lengthy stretches of lonely highways and waited endless hours in empty hallways for classes to begin. He endured “No Pity Nights”; classes in which even the teacher suffered broken bones.
He endured horrors of training and drilling which would give Freddy Kruger nightmares. Few pulled through these panic filled classes of agony. Those who did are to be revered. His Master instructors were trained in the old tradition. They honed their skills on battlefields. Some had killed numerous men. A spectacular collection of Korean Masters, Japanese Masters, Chinese Masters, CIA Agents, and authors of Martial Arts books, were these internationally recognized Martial artists.
Harold Hankins persevered and mastered the techniques taught to him by this illustrious roster. The diversity of their styles and methods created a monster in the eyes of the Martial Arts community. Mere mention of his name was cause for alarm. Only those with the warrior’s spirit were capable of training with him. The Judo school, which originally refused him membership, asked him to return and teach classes. Mr. Hankins “politely” declined their offer.
On August 16, 1969, Master Ki Whang Kim granted Mr. Hankins, along with fellow black belts, Leon Nicholson and Gaylord Patterson, permission to teach Korean Karate. Thus was born the Authentic Karate Club, borrowing on the name of the Authentic Jiu-Jitsu Club in which he previously trained.
So from the expertise and proficiency he received in boxing from Roy Luson; Judo & Jiu-Jitsu from LT. Charles O. Neal; Pa Kua and Hsing-I from Robert Smith; Aikido from Akio Mitake and Nebuhiro Hayashi; Tang Soo Do from Ki Whang Kim and Albert Cheeks; Tae Kwon Do from Kwang Hyung Kim, Ilhoi Kim and Jong Kwan Park; Wing Chun King Fu from Shiu Hung Leung and Dave Meadows; and Motobu Ha Shito-Ryu from Shiyogo Kuniba, Harold Lee Hankins created a devastating system.
From The Wrecking Crew, to the Wild Bunch, to the Bulala Bunch, 537 West 35th Street in Norfolk, Virginia was truly a House of Warriors. Those with the patience to stay and receive the proper training built character and became champions. Students under his command changed the face of tournaments in this area forever, bringing about revisions of rules, annihilation of certain divisions, and the proliferation of closed tournaments.
“When I speak—you function!” he was often heard saying to sweating and struggling students. Devotedly they practiced his preachings. Flawless technique was the goal. The by-products were strength of character, discipline, clarity of thought, confidence, patience, leadership qualities, deductive reasoning, pride of self, and winning—in anything.
“If you stay with me, and do like I tell you, you can go anywhere in the world”, he often prophesied. “You might not speak the language. You might not know his forms. But you’ll be able to fight—with anyone.” His students have been victorious in Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, North, and South America. Wherever they went, people wanted to know, “Who taught you?” The students of Harold Hankins have stood with the best of them, and stood over the rest of them.
It is one thing to learn Karate. It is another thing to become Karate. Harold Lee Hankins and his black belts epitomize this thought. His teachings have permeated every aspect of their varied lives. He has taught federal and local government agents, ministers, doctors, lawyers, actors, police officers, soldiers, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Blacks, Whites, Asians, Hispanics, and anyone else with the desire to learn his ancient techniques manifested by modern methods.
Those who were fortunate enough to thrive under the hand that managed “the stick” or suffered “the block” will never forget HIS NAME, or the lessons he endeavored to instill in us. He gave us his heart. We have witnessed, on countless occasions, his students defeating not only the students of other Masters, but the Masters themselves.
I personally can testify that I saw globally recognized Masters retreat from the challenge to battle a most willing Harold Hankins. I have seen this walking Martial Arts encyclopedia mesmerize audiences, contenders, and pretenders with his vast knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of the arts and warriors. They always stand in awe of his mental and physical prowess.
He took us in, nurtured us, and cultivated us as his children. He taught us to be officers, and gentlemen, and ladies—warriors as well as scholars. Now that we have matured and have children of our own, and students of our own, they are his grandchildren. With eminent appreciation, we acknowledge his accomplishments, already of mythical proportions. He is genuinely a present day legend, devotedly loved and admired by those who felt “the stick.”
As time marches relentlessly forward, many of those Master instructors, which taught Harold Lee Hankins, are no longer with us. Their spirit remains with us, however, and they look on with pride and honor at the achievements of their pupil.
Usually, to move up in a rank, the teacher promotes the student. But this is a case of the students acknowledging the teacher. In recognition of the history of Harold Lee Hankins and the legacy he created, the Board of Black Belts of the Authentic Karate Club distinguish our Teacher/Father as Grandmaster Harold Lee Hankins, Founder of the 35th Street Karate System. Bulala.
We feel that if Shiyogo Kuniba were here today, he would recognize Harold Hankins as Grand Master.
We feel that if Ki Whang Kim were here today, he would recognize Harold Hankins as Grand Master.
We feel that if Charles O. Neal were here today, he would recognize Harold Hankins as Grand Master.
We feel that if Roy Luson were here today, he would recognize Harold Hankins as Grand Master.
We feel that if any of his Master Instructors were now present,
they would recognize Harold Hankins as Founder of the 35th Street Karate System.
Those of us, who endeavor to continue the tradition of excellence he created, recognize Harold Hankins as our Grand Master.
Bayete Baba Nkosi.
SIGIDI, HLABLA, BULALA
Other links to the History of 35th Street.....
Link to Big Jo's Blog (...back on 35th Street)
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