Gilbert’s Isshin-ryu Karate School

Isshin-ryu Karate

Isshin-ryu Karate

Darren Gilbert is a 5th Degree Black Belt and stays as active in martial arts as he can with his busy schedule. He attends several seminars a year and works out with friends and fellow martial artists. He began his Isshin-ryu training with Sensei Allen Wheeler in 1983.  His last formal instructor was the late Sensei Sherman Harrill from Carson, Iowa.

Other major influences have been John Kerker, Eddie Satterfield, AJ Advincula, Louis Grinnell, Rick Moneymaker, Joe Lewis, and Remy Presas. Darren also studied Tae Kwon Do while stationed at Camp Casey in South Korea from December of 1981 to December of 1982 as well as Uechi-Ryu in North Adams, Massachusetts, while in high school.

Isshin-ryu Karate

Darren Gilbert likes to focus on what he calls “classical karate” with an emphasis on building a solid understanding of the basics, understanding the kata, and the application of kata techniques in personal defense.

Many seem to forget that kata was the primary mechanism used to train and pass on the highly effective combat methods of the best karate practitioners of old. If a technique didn’t work, it never made it into a kata. The two main training mechanisms of classical karate are kata and makiwara.


Darren currently teaches a class Sunday mornings from 9:30 am to 11:30 am at the Champion Ballroom Center of Knoxville on located in the Papermill Center at 4028 Papermill Drive NW #16, Knoxville, TN 37909. Because of the current situation, attendance is by appointment only. If interested, email Darren at

Kata of the Month

Naihanchi Kata is typically the third Kata taught in most Isshin-ryu dojos. Some Okinawan styles, such as Shorin-ryu, utilize three versions of the Kata. Tatsuo Shimabuku distilled the three versions down to one Kata and adopted it into the Isshin-ryu Karate system.

This kata is also reputed to be a favorite of Choki Motobu and that he claimed everything you needed to know was in this kata. Naihanchi and Sanchin Kata are known as the Father and Mother of Isshin-ryu Karate

In this video, Sensei, Sherman Harrill, is demonstrating this kata for myself and a few black belts the day after one of our Clinton, Tennessee seminars (late 90’s).

More Information

Choose your dojo wisely!

Classical vs. Sport

Standing on Stakes

Karate-do: Basics

Do You Smack the Mak?


Darren also developed an interest in Escrima. Escrima is a Filipino martial art centered on knife fighting techniques. He trains whenever possible with Sensei Richard Rosenthal of Raleigh, NC, who practices and teaches the system of Lago Y Mano Escrima as taught by Sensei AJ Advincula. 

This is another fascinating martial art he enjoys very much and it is a practical complement to Isshin-ryu Karate.


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