Master David Gabbard,Ku-dan (9th degree black belt) began studying Isshin-ryu Karate in 1975 at the Karate School of Nashville under Phil McElroy, Jim McDonald, Jimbo Butler, and Denny Shaffer. Master Gabbard earned his first degree black belt in 1977 at the age of 16, which at that time made him the youngest person ever to be awarded black belt rank at this dojo.
Coming up in a dojo famous for skilled and competitive fighters,
Master Gabbard developed his fighting skills early and well, winning the
Tennessee State Championship Men’s Division at age 16. A year later he won the
I.I.K.A. Heavyweight Division at age 17. Master Gabbard continued to compete for
twenty-one years, from September 1975 until August of 1996.
When he was competing on the open karate circuit Master Gabbard was rated the #1 Heavy weight and #8 overall fighter out of nine states in 1988. He was the Tennessee State Champion eight times, the Hall Of Fame Kumite Grand Champion four times, and was undefeated for nine consecutive years at the A.O.K.A World Championships in New York. Master Gabbard has competed throughout the U.S. amassing over 140 tournament wins with 28 Tournament Grand Championships.
Master Gabbard's numerous awards include:
- Karate-Ka of the Year from the Isshin-ryu Hall of Fame in 1983, and 1987.
- He was inducted into the World Head of Family Sokeship Council Hall of Fame in 1995 and awarded the Fighter of the Year in 1996.
- In 1997 Master Gabbard was also inducted into the World Karate Union Hall of Fame as the Outstanding Fighter and received the Outstanding Competitor award from the American Okinawan Karate Association Hall of Fame that same year.
- In 1998, Master Gabbard was inducted into the World Masters and Legends Hall of Fame as the Outstanding Competitor.
Master Gabbard has been inducted into 5 separate Hall of Fame Organizations:
• World Sokeship Council Hall of Fame.
• World Karate Union Hall of Fame.
• World Masters and Legends Hall of Fame.
• Don Nagles AOKA Hall of Fame.
• Isshin-ryu Hall of Fame.
Master Gabbard started the Karate School of Fairview in 1987 and currently runs the Jeremiah Center in Tullahoma, Tennessee. His personal training includes a variety of Martial Arts including Ju Jitsu, Kick Boxing, Tui Tae, Kyusho Jitsu and a variety of weapons. Master Gabbard is known for his expertise in pressure point fighting and this an aspect of karate which he has specialized in. Currently he travels around the country conducting seminars on pressure point techniques found in the Isshin-Ryu katas.
Master Gabbard worked for the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department from 1993 to 2001 serving in various capacities as a Reserve patrol deputy, training Sergeant, and was a ranking member of the SWAT Team. Mr. Gabbard served as a State Certified Armed Bodyguard and has provided security for celebrities in the movie and music industry.
Master Gabbard currently does Martial Arts Photography and Video Production Services and has completed a training DVD titled "Kumite Methods for Success Volume 1". He is planning to produce a series of instructional videos on the art of fighting, kata and its street applications related to the Isshin-Ryu katas in the near future.
Master Gabbard has been an active I.I.K.A. Board member since 1995 and served as Vice President and is currently the President of the I.I.K..A.
Master Gabbard was inducted into the prestigious Isshin-ryu Hall of Fame in 1998. Master Gabbard served on the Isshin-ryu Hall Of Fame Board in years 2011, 2012 & 2013.