What is the Measure of a Man? Muhammad Sabir

May 7, 2020

Muhammad Sabir
Sept. 3, 1948 to May 1, 2020 at 11:05 a.m.

Through his martial arts school
Muhammad was able to work directly
with mentoring youth.

A child was born into life 1948, grew to become a man named Clayton Jackson, one of four in the union of Ms. Beulah and Gus Jackson. He converted to Islam in the 70’s and he became known as Muhammad Sabir (Praise worthy/Extreme Patience) in 1974. His entire life has been working for his community physically, morally and spiritually. Many know him and his brothers from the neighborhood’s playgrounds, schools, run- ins and just fun times. He is an alumnus of North Division High School with the nickname of “gator.” His pursuit of knowledge and educational advancement lead him to his ultimate goal of attending the university. He is a UW-Milwaukee alumnus, with the completions of his undergraduate, masters and Ph.D., all in education. He applied his knowledge and became a devoted elementary school teacher, and also held DPL- 51 for PK-12th grade for Milwaukee Public Schools until retirement. His discussions, debates and conversations were well-rounded and grounded in facts. He also is known for the public access show Islam Live where views were strongly discussed, with humor. Many understood Islam and knew Muhammad through Islam Live.

He was also a 2002 Black Excellence Honoree in Community Service.

What is the measure of a man? By mere definition of the word “measure” is: to size up, to put a degree of standard onto something; to assure what is right and exact, to use a tool of standards, point of view from one point to another. This is a generic definition; however, seeing it put into practice consistently and implementing those points into practice produced an epic outcome. Muhammad Sabir’s life was practicing those attributes with divine knowledge and in his daily mode of operations; one did not need or always agree with him, however you felt the test of standards in his presence, from academia to karate and all in-between.

One of his students describes his teacher: “Sensei helped to form the foundation of who I am as a man. Islam and karate saved my life. The discipline I developed from the time I was 4 until 11 carried over into so many other aspects of my life that I don’t know where I’d be without it. I attribute that directly to my experience in the dojo. Also although he was a hard teacher, I always felt that he was proud of me and my accomplishments in the dojo. It helped to give me the confidence in life that I needed that ultimately carried over into my poetry, speaking, and community activism. I owe a lot to Sensei, and I love and thank you and Allah for the impact that he has had on my life. These are just a few ways that I believe my life has been made better as a result of him. “

The mind of this man was ever ready to engage in topics crossing the globe without dismissing a person’s intellectual standing or purpose in life. He ran for public office, coached individuals towards higher education, he is one of the founding members of African World Festival, worked with community organizers for multi-cultural outreach programs, served as a community instructor for the GED program, worked with the Milwaukee Urban League for community advocacy, one of the founding members of Community Call to Vote. However, he is measured and known for his skills in Karate; Community Martial Arts and Fitness Center, now known as Sabir’s Karate and Fitness, trained adults and children in the areas of physical fitness, self-discipline and protection, known for the trademark Black Karate Gi, when he and his students strolled into a tournament the trophies were the only goal. He has trained more than 1,000 in the art of Kempo Goju Karate, nationally and internationally.

Muhammad was a frequent co-host and contributor to the local “Islam Live” television show.

Words cannot describe the atmosphere of being in his presence. Physically he stood 5’11 about 230 lbs., broad shoulders of a weight lifter, strong solid stance of 6 degree martial artists, and his school was known to produce strong fighters, well rounded citizens, morally upright students. He also served as father, supportive guide, open heart, helper, kind, tough disciplinarian, and mentor to many children. Families trusted his authority and his strict martial way, scary yet without malice. Karate was not just another job, it is his passion. One of his students wrote: “For as long as I can remember you have been a part of my life. I can remember the first class I ever attended, I was about 5. You weren’t even there, Mannaan taught the class, he was about 15. Then I met you! It was weird; you had this glow to you like an aura. I wanted to be just like you. As fate would have it, over the years we formed a very strong bond. It was more than karate teacher student you became my father. I could write about you forever it’s so many memories I have of you. From all the beat downs you use to give me, to the times you would take me to Burger King after the class ended and we would just talk. I miss those moments more than anything, you sharing your wisdom with me. Everything you taught me I try to pass that onto the world and just be positive. I love you a lot. I wish you and I could go back in time and relive moments again. Now they are just memories I will hold on to forever. As people get older they wonder what kind of legacy they will leave behind. I don’t think you have to worry about that. Your legacy is engraved in stone and it may be years before people truly understand what you did for a little black inner city kid such as me. “Our program allows students to become multi-dimensional, knowledgeable and good citizens. Another student wrote: “Sensei is and always will be the building block to the person I have become…he believed in me when I had no one else. He was a father I never had… he gave me so many skill sets that I use in my everyday life. Because of you Sensei, I am strong, proud and the father I am today…you are my greatest teacher.” The development of the total student is the goal. Working with a single parent household is not a concern, for this was his life as a father of two boys, even after his older son was killed in an auto accident Muhammad did not forsake the families that relied on him. Some of the students had behavioral and emotional concerns; we provide students a safe place to work those issues out as well as received psychological support at the karate school without a label or shame.

Muhammad practices the true purpose of his existence on this earth. His knowledge of resources is amazing; his ability to put like-minded people together for entrepreneurial and business building spirit was a daily goal.

Another passion of his was traveling. He took whoever wanted to travel with him… always encouraged individuals to get a passport. His love for life and the world took him to Canada, England, France, India, Japan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia (made hajji twice), and Spain no doubt other private places.

Everywhere he traveled someone would call his name and say “my brother, the Karate Man.” He developed an International Martial Arts under the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community movement.

Our location is 4813-17 West Center for 30 plus years, place of growth and home for Sabir’s Karate and Fitness. One would see his vehicle or just the light on and knew all was well on the block. The doors are open to all that want or show interest in training. The dojo floor is open and, under proper guidance and safety precautions, Kempo Goju karate is the perfect educator. He is known to be one of Kempo Goju’s largest schools in the city. During testing the students run around the block in full gear with no shoes on without interruption from the community at large… they know it is Sabir’s Karate and Fitness on the move. Many individuals have passed through this school for 49 years and he is still operating as the 50th year approaches.

I am continuing his legacy while he is living.

His body is not as strong these days, however his mind is strong. The karate school office displays only a glimpse of his contribution and sustaining power in this community and the world through photo. His obi’s (karate belts) hang in the dojo training hall door as a reminder to the students to keep self-motivated and steadfast in their training, to achieve their ultimate aspiration which is to become a black belt under the training of Muhammad Sabir at Sabir’s Karate and Fitness. His motto reads “Protect yourself, no one else will” represented in one of the training hall oath, as well, I will train my heart and body for a “firm unshaken Spirit”.

How does one measure this man? By observing his walk, which matched his talk.

Written by:
Akua Oladunjoye
February 1, 2020