David D. Gabbard moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1975, and graduated from McGavock High School in 1979. He began his karate training at the Karate School of Nashville two weeks before his fifteenth birthday under Sensei, Phil McElroy, Jim McDonald and Jimbo Butler. On May 23, 1977 and at age 16, he was awarded his black belt, the youngest person to do be awarded the rank from the dojo at the time.
David went on to win the Tennessee State Championship Men’s Division at age 16, and won the IIKA Heavyweight Division at age 17. He competed for twenty-one years, from September 1975 until August of 1996. He competed on the open karate circuit and was rated the #1 Heavy weight and #8 overall 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 in New York at the A.O.K.A World Championships. He competed throughout the U.S. amassing over 140 tournament wins with 28 Tournament Grand Championships.
Mr. Gabbard has received many prestigious awards throughout his career. He received 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 1996 as Fighter of the Year. He was also inducted into the World Karate Union Hall of Fame in 1997 as Outstanding Fighter and received the Outstanding Competitor award from the American Okinawan Karate Association Hall of Fame that same year. In 1998, David was inducted into the World Masters and Legends Hall of Fame as the Outstanding Competitor. Sensei Gabbard was promoted to Hachi Dan in 2006 and has served on the I.I.K.A. board of Directors since 1995.
Sensei Gabbard started the Karate School of Fairview in 1987, and currently runs the Jeremiah Center in Tullahoma Tennessee along with his wife Julie. His personal training includes a variety of Martial Arts including Ju Jitsu, Kick Boxing, Tui Tae, Kyusho Jitsu and Weapons. He specializes in pressure point fighting and travels conducting seminars on pressure point techniques in the Isshin-Ryu katas.
Sensei Gabbard worked for the Williamson County Sheriffs Department from 1993 to 2001 serving in various capacities as a patrol deputy, training Sergeant, and was a ranking member of the SWAT Team. Mr. Gabbard served as a State Certified Armed Body Guard and has provided security for celebrities in the movie and music industry. Some of his clients have included Amy Grant, Wynona Judd, Gary Chapman, Donnie and Marie Osmond, pop group Hanson and actor Steven Seagal.
Sensei Gabbard also does Martial Arts Photography and Video Production Services, and has completed a training DVD, 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.
Sensei Gabbard has been an active IIKA Board member since 1995 and served as Vice President and President of the IIKA.
Sensei Gabbard served on the Isshinryu Hall Of Fame Board in years 2011, 2012 & 2013 and was the developer of this website.