About Willie “The BAM” Johnson
Black Belt Magazine once commented about one of the greatest documentaries on Martial Arts put together by A&E , Willie “The BAM” Johnson’s life story. It shows his rebirth from bullying, poverty, and physical, sexual and mental abuse. Rampant crime and drugs engulfed his community. Becoming a successful drug dealer, user and criminal eventually landed him in jail. This tragic scenario almost seems to lose its edge and become less tragic, because it is a situation that is repeated endlessly in near-epidemic proportions throughout the United States.
Johnson breaks the cycle with the principle of Martial Arts to become recognized today as an Urban Legend and a member of Black Belt Magazine’s Hall of Fame along with the world’s greatest Martial Artists like Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Jackie Chan and many others.He also returned from Sports Karate as a seven-time World Champion. There could be no better representative for all of the life-changing benefits that the Martial Arts bestow.
Professor BAM has also been recognized by both eastern and western masters in the Martial Arts as one of today’s most gifted and talented Martial Artists. He got his start at age six by being inspired by Bruce Lee while residing in downtown Baltimore. Today, he is a graduate of the Beijing Physical institute of China and holds a seventh degree Black Belt under Master Kenneth Parker, a master degree under Grandmaster Dennis Brown and a first degree Black belt under Master Garcia Davis. Among his credits are a solid record of wins including the first national Triple Crown Wushu/Kung Fu title, WAKO World Title, two All-American titles, and being the first African-American to hold two national American Sports Karate Association titles. He is the producer of more World Champions in one year than any other Martial Artist.
Through the Better Attitude Maker Sports Karate Team, he is also recognized as one of today’s most recognized action stars. He played himself on the hit TV show- WMAC Masters along with Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee and some of the 21st century’s leading Martial Artists. He has also been on many other TV and film projects including the Hong Kong Production entitled “Super Fights.” Johnson also had a fight scene against Chuck Jeffreys – The choreographer for a number of Wesley Snipe’s Films, Including Blade: Trinity. He was also a featured performer on the Wesley Snipes production “Wesley Snipe’s Presents: Master of the Martial Arts”, Chuck Norris’ “Kick Drugs Out of America” and the Dragon-Fest “Superstar Show.”
He also holds the best selling DVD Instructional Series for Paladin Press with “Street Combat”, “Street Chin-NA” and soon to be released “Street MMA.” Human Kinetics, a leader in sports publications, released his other best seller, a book entitled “The Complete Martial Artist.” He has also been featured in all of the top Martial Arts magazines since the 80s as an author, on the cover or as a featured personality.
His unique urban innovative approach of producing personal greatness from the inside-out through the tools of Martial Arts has made him the ambassador of truth from the underground to the mainstream. His consistent approach of research, learning and adapting truly exemplifies the title of “Professor.”
He is one of the world’s leading instructors and the only one that has taken first-hand knowledge of innovative and positive experiences and structured them into curriculum that provides solutions to community and worldly problems. These curriculum have been taught in colleges, schools, law enforcement agencies, and many other professional organizations. The thing that is truly dear to his heart is working with those who society has counted out and labeled as under-privileged. He sees himself in each of these and strives to help them through his “Stronger Than Drugs Foundation” which has allowed him to speak all over the world on different topics. He regularly goes back to Baltimore City and helps to rebuild the same community he helped to tear down and goes back to the same community center that saved his life- McKims Community Center.
He has been honored with his own Willie “The BAM” Johnson Day on September 28th in Baltimore awarded by Governor O’ Malley. Senator Barbara McKloskey also honored him for his extraordinary work by flying the United States American Flag over the Washington Capitol for his community services which is the first among Martial Artists. Not to forget his two “Baltimore’s Best” Awards given to him by the honorable William Donald Shaffer.
The one that carries the most meaning to him is the American Cancer Society Community Fundraising Award- an award that he received for starting a cause in an effort to commemorate his mother who died from cancer, Martha Johnson. He also joined forces with Baltimore City government and the parks and recreation center to create a Stronger Than Drugs Program to help display unity, an endeavor that was once in Laurel, Maryland for the Cemberley Gardens community.