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♦ SENSEI SHERMAN HARRILL
• "Living the Way"
• "A First Generation Student Speaks Out"
• Sensei's Diploma
SENSEI SHERMAN HARRILL - A Memorial (Part II)
Sensei Harrill Memorial at Hope Yama Dojo
"Living the Way"
(A story about respect, courtesy, and humility.)
"Living the Way" was written by the late
Harrill. It appeared in an issue of "Southern
The young man walked unsteadily down the street, talking
to himself, smelling heavily of alcohol, and angry at
problems known only to himself.
Approaching him was an elderly man enjoying his evening
walk on the same street. When within a few feet of each
other, the young man challenged the elder with slurred
cursing. The old man said nothing, just letting him vent
out his anger. At one point the young man shoved him.
Increasing his verbal attack with vigor, he awaited some
type of response.
What he received took the young man by surprise. The
elderly man responded by saying, "EXCUSE ME SIR", I do
not wish to fight you, but I would be honored if you
would allow me to walk you home and for you to talk with
me. In my elderly years I have few friends with whom I
With this reply the young man's aggression diminished.
Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, he looked into
the face of the person his attack was directed towards.
He saw the face, weathered by the passing of time,
showing wisdom, compassion, and a peaceful understanding
of his fellow man. Feeling embarrassed by his actions,
he apologized and continued on his way.
A pleasant smile came over the elderly man's face as he
continued his walk to the dojo.
As a master of the martial arts, he had put into action
the techniques of many years.
RESPECT: To another, his sensei, to his many years of
study, and himself.
COURTESY: Regardless of the turmoil and unrest; allow
time for them to run their course.
HUMILITY: Courtesy and respect make up humility. When
understood, this shows real inner strength and
understanding of one's self and others. Humility is many
times taken as a weakness because people do not see it
for what it is.
You decide from what you have heard. Is it weakness or
is it strength?
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Agena Dojo, Okinawa - February 14, 1960
(left to right) Charlie Conners, John DeSantis,
Sherman Harrill and Gary Baker2
"A First Generation Student Speaks
Copyright © 2001 by Sherman Harrill2
All I can do is speak of my own experiences as how
things happened to me when I trained in the Agena Dojo
Rank: Sensei Shimabuku promoted me to green belt after
about 6 months with no testing. He just came up to me
and said Harryu you catchy green belt. No big deal I
then went and bought one. After another six months the
same thing was done when he told me to catchy Black
Belt. Upon leaving Okinawa Sensei sat John DeSantis and
I down and asked if we were going to teach Isshin-Ryu
when we went back to the States. At that time I had
great hopes of doing just that. Sensei at that time did
not promote me to the rank (there is a big difference
between a promotion and entrusting) of Roku-Dan, he
entrusted it to me. He said after 15 years plus training
that it could be used. There was no contract just a
handshake and my work, which was good enough at that
time. Things do not always turn out the way we plan, for
I didn't open a dojo for a long time. After I did and 22
years later I assumed the rank as I felt that I had done
as Sensei had asked of me.
Now the big question most people want to know, what was
my rank when I left Okinawa. I hope that I might have
been a half way decent Sho-Dan but that would depend on
what standards were used. One thing you will find out is
that I will be able to hit someone just as hard with a
white obi on as with a black one.
Secrets: If there were any secrets I sure in the hell
didn't know any of them. I was neither one of Sensei's
favorite or better students. I was just one of many
young Marines that passed through the Agena Dojo. Almost
everything I was shown was very basic, block, punch and
kick. This along with a lot of guts or sometimes no
common sense made for some very strong fighters out of
the Dojo. There was two things that made a big
difference in my personal training after leaving: one
was having the code broken down by an Okinawan and two
was working on the Kumite that Sensei taught. Kumite was
not sparring but what people now know as bunkai.
42 Years Later: I have seen a lot of comments made by
people about Shimabuku, Sensei. Some have been very
good, others question his reasons for the way he
developed Isshin-Ryu and promoted his students. Sensei
was just another person and that means that he made some
mistakes but NO ONE knows what his plan was except
I have no problem with anyone who brings new ideas and
knowledge into the system as long as you don't break one
rule. Don't try to fix something that is not broken.
There is nothing wrong with the way our basics or katas
as taught by Shimabuku, Sensei. I suggest that if you do
not like the way he done things or how he set up the
system then look for another style and leave Isshin-Ryu
Tatsuo Shimabuku trained and proud of it.
Sherman Harrill, Sensei
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Sensei Sherman Harrill's silk diploma
Sensei Harrill's silk diploma2
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1. "Living The Way", by Sherman Harrill. Southern
Kicks Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 12, page 11.
2. Private source.
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