Gilbert’s Isshin-ryu Karate School

Isshin-ryu Karate

Isshin-ryu Karate

Darren Gilbert is a 5th Degree Black Belt in Isshin-ryu Karate and a second-generation student of the late Sensei, Sherman Harrill. He runs a karate class in Knoxville, Tennessee, attends several seminars a year, and enjoys works out with friends and fellow martial artists of different styles. He began his Isshin-ryu training with Sensei Allen Wheeler in 1983.  His last formal instructor was Sensei Sherman Harrill from Carson, Iowa, who sadly passed away in November of 2002..

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

Sensei 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.


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

Karate Instruction

When: Sundays
Time: 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM
Where: Champion Ballroom of Knoxville
4028 Papermill Drive NW #16
Knoxville, TN 37909

Again, due to COVID-19 and business restrictions, please contact me prior to showing up for a class, so we can insure there is space available and discuss appropriate safety precautions.

Kata of the Month

Wansu Kata is typically the fourth Kata taught in most Isshin-ryu dojos. It’s roots can be traced back to the Tomari-te tradition of karate. Two of Tatsuo Shimabuku’s primary instructors studied this tradition during their lives, Choki Motobu and Chotoku Kyan.

There were two versions of this kata in the Tomari-te tradition: Wansu (Dai) from Teruya Kiso (1804 to 1864) and Wansu (Sho) from Oyadomari Eiro (1878 to 1926). Tatsuo Shimabuku adopted this kata into his Isshin-ryu system.

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?

Tatsuo Shimabuku’s Kumite

There Is No First Strike in Karate


Sensei Gilbert has 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 and it is a practical complement to Isshin-ryu Karate.


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