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Grand Master James A. Jones Jr.

James A. Jones Jr. was born in Belzoni, Mississippi, in June 1940. He was the second of eight children of the proud parent, Mr. & Mrs. James A. Jones Sr.. When he was two years old, his family moved to Chicago, llinois. He spent the first twenty-three years of his life in the Englewood area. During this time, he developed his strong work ethic by working at his father’s grocery store and delivering daily newspapers.
He also learned to cut hair, providing many services for his neighbors for several years. From the ages of 15 to 18, Jones attended Tyler Barber College. After completing Barber College, he spent two years as a barber apprentice and received his master barber license. During his apprenticeship, he worked as a custodial worker at S&C Electric Company to support himself until he completed his schooling.
After attending the first World Karate Championship in September of 1963, Jones began to develop a strong interest in the Martial Arts. He began to train as a student of John Keehan (Count Dante). Jones learned fast, earning his Black Belt in only thirteen months. He spent all of his spare time studying the art. Shortly after he received his barber license, he gave up his career as a barber to focus more on the Martial Arts, but decided to stay with S&C Electric Company.
As time passed, he began to excel in both his career at S&C and Karate. Jones later decided to begin a Karate program at the YMCA in 1965. He was the first to introduce Karate into the YMCAs in the Chicago land area. Jones started teaching at the Southtown YMCA, thereby making Karate affordable to all income brackets. Some of Jones’ early students are still teaching in YMCA's today.
In 1966, Jones was appointed Chicago Chief Instructor for the United States Karate Association, also known as the U.S.K.A. In 1967, he entered the Grand Nationals in Kansas City, where he won top honors in black belt sparring and took second place in kata. He was also chosen team captain to represent the U.S.K.A. in Long Beach, California. Later, Jones was picked to compete in the Tournament of Champions in Cleveland, Ohio, and was promoted to the position of State Representative for the U.S.K.A.

In 1968, Jones went to the Grand Nationals in Cleveland where he was promoted to 4th degree Black Belt. During that year, he also sponsored his first major tournament, a meeting of teams from the East Coast, West Coast, and the Midwest. There, Jones served as the coach of the Midwest team.   Jones also won at Jhoon Rhee National Championship in 1968. Jones was named to the Board of Directors of Action Karate magazine in 1969.
Jones gave up his teaching post at the YWCA in 1971, but maintained a close relationship with the program as Chief Advisor. In that same year, Jones was presented an award naming him the Sensei who contributed the most to Karate in the Chicago land area.
While continuing to advance at S&C Electric Company, Jones decided there was more that he wanted to give to the Martial Arts. Eventually he decided to open his own Karate school. J.J. Karate, Ltd, was established in 1972, producing a school at 7600 South Cottage Grove, Chicago, Illinois. J.J. Karate Ltd. eventually paved the way for bigger and better events in Karate. Master Jones chose Alverston "Fox" Conner to help him coordinate all of his shows, events and tournaments. Shortly following the opening of his school, Jones was promoted to 5th degree Black Belt at the Memphis, Tennessee tournament and won first place in the Ohio State Championship, Master’s Division.
Events moved quickly thereafter for Master Jones and J.J. Karate, Ltd. His organization sponsored a historic Karate tournament in the Arie Crown Theater at Chicago’s McCormick Place. The tournament lived up to its advance publicity, later recognized by many as the “Tournament of the Century.” A year later, Jones pioneered the National Karate League, Inc., a separate corporation from the flourishing J.J. Karate, Ltd. Through the National Karate League, Jones continued to attempt to bring to Karate the same professional recognition granted to other sports.
One of Master Jones’ first efforts was to unify American Karate through the introduction of the “Universal Karate System.” This System was designed for Americans, including all styles of Karate: hard and soft, hands and feet. In this style, Master Jones developed five snake forms that have been accepted throughout the country. The Universal Karate System will prevail at all National Karate League, Inc. tournaments. Master Jones continues to insist on following a traditional program of Karate discipline, both physical and mental.
Even with all of this to his credit, Master Jim Jones continues to look for other frontiers to pioneer in the world of Karate. Grand Master Jones is now a 10th degree Black Belt and has been featured in numerous books on Karate. Most recently he was given a chapter in two books. The first of the two books is called “Men of Steel Discipline”, written by William Hinton, and was thought to be the first book to recognize black Martial Arts masters. William’s second book was called “The Universal Mind”, which recognizes top martial artists throughout the United States. Master Jones was also mentioned in another book written by Ron Van Clief called "Black Heroes of the Martial Arts". In his civilian life, Jones still resides in the Chicago land area with his wife, Marian, and his three children, Michael, Jocelyn, and James Emile. Throughout his time at S&C, he became the first African American leadsperson, assistant supervisor, supervisor, personnel administrator and personnel manager in the company’s history. He eventually retired as the Senior Human Resource Manager in 2003, after 44 years of employment.
Some of Jones’s early students are today’s leading instructors, top tournament contenders and champions. Master Jones is recognized by many as the father of Midwest Karate through his visionary leadership and his dedication to the Martial Arts. As a pioneer, he still works to better the art of Karate.

In 2009 Master Jones was finally inspired to finish writing the book he had been working on for the past 30 years.  He had visited other dojos and noticed they were handing out printed portions of a training manuals for their students to study from.  He felt this was not only less than professional but was in poor taste as far as extending a good image of the martial arts.  In mid 2009 he completed his book called "The Path to Knowledge in the Martial Arts".

Jones continued to balance his martial arts talent along with his management talent and began to excel in both.  He eventually became the personnel manager at S & C Electric and those skills spilled over in his management of not only his talents but his school,  J.J. Karate Ltd.  In diversifying himself, Master Jones grew into certain philosophies inwhich he based the training of his students on.

Master Jones have trained some of the finest students in the country, they include from his original group from Southtown and Hyde Park YMCA:

Preston Baker

Kenneth Knuson

Debra Nathan

John Norman

Otis Baker

Mary Hodge

Alice Stevens

Tayari Cassell

Nate Morgan

Benjamin Peacock

Alvin Campbell

James Pitchford

Edward Cattenhead

Tac Attome

Maxine Purdue

Michael Dorsey

Singleton Green

Hyde Park Ymca

Bob Campa

Master Jones have trained some of the finest students in the country, they include from his second group at 7600 S. Cottage Grove:


Pete Hoffman



Clinton Harris

Walter Strothers

Essie Calvert

Edward Metroyer

Tyrone Cox

Clifton Rogers

Shay Porter

Darrell Coleman Simms

Milton Payton

John Murray

Jeffery Williams

Theodore Love

Kenneth Patton

Lewis Williams

Lorenzo Williams

Kenneth Parks

Tony Downing

Lee Chatman


Melvin Conner