(May 11, 1941 - November 4, 2002)
Sherman Harrill was born May 11, 1941 in Falcon, Missouri. As a small child his family moved to Iowa. At 17, he entered the United States Marine Corps and was stationed in Okinawa in 1959. For the next 14 months, he trained at Master Shimabuku's dojo.
While there, he trained with many other U.S. Marines in Isshinryu, such as Jim Advincula, Don Bohan, Ed Johnson, Tom Lewis, Clarence Ewing, Steve Armstrong, Jake Eckenrode, just to name a few. The early custom of Master Shimabuku was to present silks to his Black belts. Sensei Harrill is among those recipients.
After leaving the Marine Corps, he returned to his home in Carson, Iowa where he spent many years training by himself in the ways that Master Shimabuku had taught him on Okinawa.
Sensei Harrill had an isolated spot in the woods on his farm where he would train each day. He ordained himself in the mindset and mentality of the toughness of Marine training, with the practices of tough disciplines learned in the Okinawan Dojo. Through the persistence of a personal friend, he began teaching in 1978.
In 1983, Sensei Harrill's two daughters were tragically killed in an automobile accident involving a drunk driver. Devastated by the lose, he later confided that it was his faith in God, the love for his wife Linda, and Isshinryu Karate that brought him through a brush with near shutdown.
Sensei Harrill had an "open door policy" that welcomed anyone from any style to train at his dojo. For those who trained there, it became commonly known as the "Lion's Den". Students of Isshinryu were always welcome to come and train, and he left Saturdays and Sundays open for visiting students. If you needed a place to sleep, the dojo was open to Isshinryu students in transit. Sensei Harrill was one of the most hospitable men you would have ever met.
In the early 1980's, Sensei Harrill began giving instructional seminars all over the United States and quickly became one of the most sought after authorities on Isshinryu Karate. In 1997, he went International, by traveling to South Africa to give a seminar. Students nationally, as well as instructors, were amazed at his technical, physical, and mental skills. The seminar workout was not only physically taxing, but the abundance of Bunkai and Kata techniques shown were almost too many to gather in just a one day seminar. His technical and execution skills, as well as the demeanor by which he taught was unparalleled.
Sensei Harrill lived Isshinryu Karate without question. He was equally balanced in his abilities with or without weapons. His no-nonsense approach, coupled with his desire to keep Master Shimabuku's dream pure and true, was obvious in the first 30 minutes of contact with him. Sensei Harrill passed away November 4, 2002 after complications from surgery.