Isshin-ryu Karate In The United States

After the war was over, sometime in the late 1940’s, the US Military stationed personnel on Okinawa. Just as the Japanese had done during the war, our military sought out Master Shimabuku to ask him to teach martial arts to the servicemen who were quartered on the island.

Master Shimabuku agreed to instruct the Americans, which is how we were first introduced to Isshin‑ryu. (His students trained hours upon hours all day long for many months. At that time, Master Shimabuku was teaching in his backyard, and it wasn’t until he opened his first dojo in Agena Village in 1956 that students, regardless of nationality, had a “formal” place to train. Even so, his dojo at that time had no roof and students trained in the weather, rain or shine.)

Although he taught many American military personnel over the years, most chose not to continue training upon returning home. However, there were four returning servicemen, in particular, who chose to not only continue their training, but who are responsible for the introduction and development of Isshin‑ryu Karate in the United States.

Don Nagle, Steve Armstrong, Harold Mitchum and Harold Long were Master Shimabuku’s best and most serious American students. Taking what they learned from Master Shimabuku on the island, these men returned home to establish dojos in their respective parts of the country, and ultimately, Isshin‑ryu associations of worldwide prominence.

Eventually, each man would establish a lineage that not only embodied the philosophies and teachings of Master Shimabuku, but that served to reflect the core values contained in their own lives.