John Corcoran
John Corcoran

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as one of the world's premier martial arts authors and journalists, John Corcoran has been a prime force in taking modern martial arts literature into the major-league arena. In his 34-year literary career, he has written millions of words about the subject in an acclaimed body of work encompassing books, magazines and screenplays.
Overall, he has used the power of the media to bring thousands of martial artists to public attention, and a select handful -- including superstar Jean-Claude Van Damme -- to stardom. He was instrumental in making media stars out of such now-famous martial artists as Joe Lewis, Bill "Superfoot" Wallace, Howard Jackson, Karyn Turner, Ernie Reyes, Jr., T.J. Roberts, Karen Eden, Troy Dorsey and Earnest Hart, Jr., among others.
A veteran karate black belt, John began his training in 1967. Legendary Heavyweight Karate Champion Joe Lewis has been his chief martial arts mentor since 1977. Johns literary mentors are the late, great Academy Award-winning screenwriter Stirling Silliphant ("In the Heat of the Night"; "The Towering Inferno"), who was Bruce Lee's main Hollywood mentor, and best-selling author Joe Hyams ("Zen in the Martial Arts"; "Bogie"). John has trained about 25 martial arts writing proteges throughout the United States and one in Germany, some of whom became editors of national martial arts magazines.
John has authored 11 books to date, all but two with major New York publishers, which have collectively sold over 400,000 copies worldwide. He is perhaps best known for his 1983 masterwork, "The Original Martial Arts Encyclopedia," the definitive reference of the genre, which took ten years to complete and has sold over 135,000 copies. His last book, "The Unauthorized Jackie Chan Encyclopedia," released in August 2002, went into an immediate second printing.
Over the past 34 years, John has served as an editor or founding editor of almost every influential martial arts magazine in the industry, starting with "Black Belt" in 1973. In 1977, he pioneered multi-language article syndication in his field and his stories have since appeared in six languages in over 100 countries.
Corcoran is currently the editor of "Martial Arts Success," the industry's foremost business publications. The magazine is direct-mailed to over 20,000 martial arts school owners in four countries every month.
By far, John's biggest martial arts story was his 1977 chronicling of Elvis Presleys 18-year martial arts involvement, which John syndicated in five languages throughout the world. His Elvis story has been updated and reprinted six times since then.
John's writings on the subject have also extended into academia, motion pictures, and the mainstream media.
He was selected by the editors of both "The World Book Encyclopedia" in 1986 and Microsofts "Encarta (Electronic) Encyclopedia" in 1996 to write their inaugural entries for martial arts. His mainstream articles have appeared in "Parade," the 32-million-copy Sunday newspaper supplement, and "Daily Variety," Hollywood's leading trade paper, and hes been quoted in the "Wall Street Journal" and countless newspapers.
In 1993, he wrote the screenplay for "American Samurai," the film that marked the starring debut of Mark Dacascos. He was a primary technical consultant for the A&E channels 1998 landmark TV documentary, The Martial Arts," and worked in that same capacity for 2002s "Modern Gladiators," produced by Oscar-nominated documentarian Peter Spirer. He has also appeared as a stuntfighter in over a dozen martial arts movies, mainly in films starring Don "The Dragon" Wilson.
In 1995, John launched a national public-speaking sideline, teaching martial arts school owners publicity-procurement techniques, for the National Association of Professional Martial Artists.
In 1998, he co-edited "The ACMA Instructor Certification Manual." Based on the contents of this book, Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the "Father of Aerobics," and his world-renowned Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, agreed to administrate the ACMA Instructor Certification Program. This endorsement provides unprecedented credibility for the martial arts with both the academic and scientific communities and the health and fitness industry. Essentially, it elevates the martial arts from a "fringe" pastime to a recognized mainstream fitness activity.
In 2000, John was the recipient of Gary Lee's Living Legends Hall of Fame Award in Houston, Texas, and in 2002, John was named to the Battle of Atlanta's Hall of Fame Award. But he considers receiving the 2004 Martial Arts History Museum's "Funakoshi" Award as the pinnacle of his entire career to date.

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3/29/2015 12:51:11 PM | When I ventured on to the martial arts journalism scene in the late 70s it was a matter of common knowledge that you had been there ahead of me. In fact, when I wanted to (or didn"t want to) do something, editorially, and there were differences of opinion about it, my phone would ring or there would come a knock on the door and sure enough there would be someone who would use what you had written or done as if your name was an argument in itself. You were a hard act to follow, so sometimes I went my own way -- if only to make sure people were still paying attention. Congratulations on your distinguished career, an honor overdue, and good luck as you fare forward.

Renardo Barden

3/29/2015 12:49:06 PM | To John Corcoran, well deserved. I was a beginning martial arts writer back in 1980 when you contacted me to write articles for KICK magazine. You edited my articles and schooled me on your expectations. Your many books and articles were often the source of my inspiration. In 1982 you helped introduce me to Joe Lewis. But most of all you offered encouragement. I am grateful. Congratulations on your career success.

Jerry Beasley

3/29/2015 12:35:20 PM | Congratulations Mr C. Think you for all the great work you have done for the martial arts and for the mentoring you have given me. It has been a pleasure working with you through the years.

Dave Kovar

3/27/2015 8:27:20 AM | John is a true historians of the Martial Arts! He has witnessed first hand the transition of the Arts here in America and is a product of the Sport. He is a real Martial Artist who lived it first hand and reported it as he saw it, not someone who sat in the stands and watched from the sidelines but was on the mat and reported from the inside out to give the best perspective live.
Congrats John.. Well deserved!

Jeff Smith

3/27/2015 8:25:29 AM | "One man has enthusiasm for 30 minutes. Another for 30 days. But it is the one who has it for 30 years who will truly make a difference in his chosen field of endeavor."
This comment by Edward Butler is on the Centurion Award plaque presented to John at the Battle of Atlanta the same year that New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik received the same award as they were both inducted into the Battle of Atlanta Centurion Club--for Black Belts who positively impact our sport beyond the studios and tournaments.
John has persistently covered the personalities and events and ideas of the martial arts and presented them to his martial rs family and the public ta large - a Black Belt "Super Journalist" who batters down doors and other impediments to get the word out about a sport and athletes he respects and admires.
John, I wish I cold be there today to share in person the appreciation you are receiving on this day. Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing you soon.

We wish you all the best. You deserve it!

Joe Corley

3/26/2015 12:57:33 PM | Dear John, you are a legend. You have made an enormous impact in our Martial Arts Industry above and beyond what we could comprehend. Your writings and journalism has been a guiding light in our field. John, you have selflessly pursued your passion of writing, reporting, and recognizing people and events in the world of Martial Arts like no other. Your work will remain in our industry forever. Your personality brightens the room when you enter it, and through your penmanship, has brightened the lives of many deserving martial artists. You have been a behind the scene force, who has helped transform the Martial Arts World. It has been an honor and a pleasure knowing you. Congratulations on all your lifes accomplishment and successes.

Zulfi Ahmed

3/11/2015 9:59:25 AM | Congratulations John Corcoran for your special day at the Martial Arts History museum. I look forwarded to meeting you and witnessing some of the remarkable accomplishments you have achieved and done for the martial arts industry.

Jason Lau

3/9/2015 1:58:03 PM | Congratulations Master Corcoran on your recognition this year by the Martial Arts History Museum. You are definitely a "Best of the Best" within our industry!! All the best to you, sir!

Brandon Florian

3/8/2015 6:27:16 PM | Master John Corcoran is one of my Living hero"s and represents the Best of the Martial Arts and our Industry. Congratulations to you sir with Honor and Respect.

Dan Anderson

3/6/2015 2:07:32 PM | Dear John,
Just wanted to send my heart felt congratulations for this huge honor you are receiving with the Martial Arts History Museum. This reward is well deserved as you have impacted countless lives for those of us in the Martial Arts Industry. I personally thank you for the story you did on me years ago for the cover of Martial Arts Success. You helped me to have a well written "15 min. of fame"! I am glad the honorable Martial Arts History Museum is insuring your legacy will last for generations. You deserve it. Well done !

Professor Robert Austin

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Business Phone: (412) 321-3331
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Benny Urquidez speaks to John Corcoran at the 2016 Martial Arts SuperShow

John Corcoran speaks at "John Corcoran" Day

Nat speaks at John Corcoran Day

Mrs. Corcoran speaks at John Corcoran Day

Ernie Reyes Sr. speaks at John Corcoran Day

Art Camacho speaks at John Corcoran Day

Benny Urquidez speaks at John Corcoran Day

Emil Farkas speaks at John Corcoran Day

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Martial Arts Chronology

6/0/1973  Martial arts journalist John Corcoran creates the first set of national Top-10 ratings for black belt forms competitors
Martial arts journalist John Corcoran creates the first set of national Top-10 ratings for black belt forms competitors, published in the Official Karate Yearbook. Very few women are competing nationally in forms at this time, so these ratings focus exclusively on male competitors with multiple victories in major tournaments. Since most of them hadnt competed against each other, the competitors are listed in alphabetical, not numerical, order. The Top 10 are: Al Dacascos; George Dillman; Eric Lee; Chuck Merriman; Toyotaro Miyazaki; Glenn Premru; Jim Roberts, Jr.; Alex Sternberg; Mike Stone; and Byong Yu.
6/0/1973  Karate black belt John Corcoran is hired as the first full-time book editor for Ohara Publications
Karate black belt John Corcoran is hired as the first full-time book editor for Ohara Publications, Black Belts magazines sister company. He edits books written by famous experts Chuck Norris and Fumio Demura, among others. Within months, he crosses over to the companys magazine division as assistant editor of Black Belt and Karate Illustrated, becoming the first black belt-ranked writer on Black Belts staff.