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JB Martial Arts owner named to magazine's Hall of Fame

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JB Martial Arts owner named to magazine's Hall of Fame
James Bowman, left, owner of JB Martial Arts in Orangeburg, spars with student Adam Williams during training. Williams has participated in the Junior Olympics of martial arts. (T&D Correspondent/Randolph Middleton)

James Bowman, owner of JB Martial Arts in Orangeburg, will receive the "Martial Arts World" magazine Hall of Fame Award on May 3.

Brown received the nomination on Jan. 29.

"It was something I wasn't expecting, so it's hard to even react to it," Bowman says.

He said upon receiving the letter, he automatically jumped in his truck, drove to his wife's job and handed it to her.

"My wife loves it more than I do," Bowman said.

His love for the martial arts began in 1973 when he and his father attended a Bruce Lee movie playing at what is now known as the Bluebird Theater.

"Once I saw that, that's all it took, and that's been 35 years now," Bowman said.

He began teaching martial arts at the age of 8, he said.

"I never thought that I would be teaching at that age, but once I realized how good I was at it, I wanted everyone else to know what I knew," Bowman said.

Bowman first taught martial arts in Atlanta, Ga., but moved back to Orangeburg to start his business, JB Martial Arts.

"The martial arts part was the easy part. I could do that part. But the business part was the part that I had to learn all over again," he said. Throughout his career, Bowman has participated in numerous tournaments, winning championships and touring with the U.S. team.

"After I stopped being a competitor, I decided to be a teacher," he said.

Bowman noted that character values, such as discipline, can be taught through the martial arts.

"I was a good child academically, but I had discipline problems. It helped me realize that what I knew could get me in more trouble then what I didn't know," he said.

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He said he learned disciple from his father, the military and the martial arts.

"All of it has helped me out across the board, made me concentrate a little more in other things," Bowman said.

He said the experience of accomplishment in being able to compete and win was rewarding for him, along with seeing his students realize their potential.

"That feeling of winning and knowing that you won — not because you were lucky but because you did what you were suppose to do" is unbeatable, Bowman said.

"If you use your head instead of always trying to overpower, it works so much better," he said.

Bowman's students participate in tournaments in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. They compete in the more practical events at tournaments such as form and sparring instead of the musical/creative martial arts competition.

"I don't want to put them in a situation where they think that running, jumping and doing a back flip is actually going to work," Bowman said.

Bowman appeared in the film "The Down N Low," where he performed a martial arts scene recorded in Atlanta.

"It was fun, but it's hard because you have to shoot from different angles and repeat the same movements each time," he said.

Five years from now, Bowman said, he hopes to have someone teaching the martial arts for him in other towns.

"People say they want a school in Santee and places like that, but there is only one of me right now," he said.

JB Martial Arts teaches classes in Little Dragon, Taekwondo, self-defense for women, fitness and also offers private lessons. The Little Dragon program for students 3-5 highlights simple drill and basic skills to get the students familiarized with their bodies and their balance, Bowman said. The Taekwondo program for students 6 and up teaches form and sparring.

JB Martial Arts also participates in numerous volunteer opportunities in the community.

"First Steps calls us when they have their programs in the mall," Bowman said. "It lets the kids know that there are other avenues besides the seasonal sports."

JB Martial Arts is located at 935 Summers Avenue.

T&D Correspondent Randolph Middleton can be reached by e-mail at


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