History of the Order of Combat

Order of Combat History

The American Order of Combat - BuDoKwan, Incorporated, was first established as a Black Belt Fraternity in 1978. The founding Members, Black Belts and Masters, were also all Military Veterans, including a female Black Belt from the Air Force. The Order has always recognized the value of diversity.

In 1985, the BuDoKwan, as the Black Belts of the Fraternity are known, formed a Nonprofit Corporation which has legal power by its Constitution, through the State, to establish Ranks within the Order and to set standards for promoting Members. By virtue of its by-laws, and early date of incorporation, the American Order of Combat is most likely the original Fraternal Organization (Fraternity/Sorority) of American Martial Artists in the U.S.

The Order requires Members to Pledge Allegiance to the U.S.

The American Order of Combat Bu Do Kwan is now re-incorporated in Virginia as the Order of Combat -USA, Incorporated. This occurred in 2006.

GrandMaster Established


When the original Order was founded, the first Grand Master was unanimously selected by the Membership, and installed on July 4th, 1979. Master Ja'Mes R. Bethel; this Master was so admired by the other Black Belts that Masters who held higher Belts recognized his leadership and advanced him to Grand Master over themselves.

Ja'Mes R. Bethel, the first Grand Master, assumed the 10th Degree Position and directed that Citizenship, Education and Community Service would be the themes around which our Order would develop.

In 1985, the Budokwan agreed to incorporate. Upon incorporation, the Board of Incorporators reaffirmed their commitment to the Martial philosophy, and continued the Grand Master, as the head of all the Budokwan. It has been so, ever since.

Retiring as Grand Master and awarded the title "Emeritus" in 2004, Grand Master Bethel named Master Jeff Lewis as his Official successor as Grand Master of the Order. Click here to review GrandMaster Lewis's biography.


Every Order Meeting, or any Official function starts with the Pledge of Allegiance, in unison, with all visitors able to, standing with us. A hand salute, while facing the U S Flag is executed during the Pledge and at the closing formation.

Members will pay attention to proper conduct, Rank, Rules of Order, and respect for each other throughout any official meetings, or any classes.


  1. The BUDOKWAN - The Black Belt Fraternal Members of the Order - also known as the Black Belt Council of Masters
  2.  BU DO KWAN - "Balanced Way of Warrior Training" System of American Combat Karate/Martial Arts Training.

Citizenship, Education, and Community Service

In addition to paying attention to the formal and philosophical education of our members, the Order is always trying to improve training methods and ways to educate Members in the Martial Tradition, which includes "The Seven Virtues of the Warrior".

The Director requires that all Members wishing to be promoted to any Black Belt Rank must complete and submit a Community Service Project that was approved by their Master or Instructor. The Order is proud of the community service accomplishments of our members.

Seven Virtues

The Seven Virtues of the Order of Combat should be considered as a guide to a better way of living,  becoming a good citizen, and a good friend to others.

Benevolence, Courage, Honor, Justice, Loyalty, Politeness, Truth.

Download the Seven Virtues for display in your training area.

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