Don Bordinger began his Isshin-Ryu study with Master Harold Long in 1966, and later partnered with Mr. Long in a Dojo in Knoxville, TN. After long days in the dojo and numerous trips with Mr. Long to events around the country, Don was promoted by Mr. Long to the rank of Roku-Dan in 1984.
During those years, Don was a member of the I.I.K.A. Board of Directors, where he served as Secretary. As important as that was to him, nothing was more significant, however, than his involvement with this very organization. Don Bordinger wrote the Isshin-Ryu Hall of Fame Constitution and By Laws, and was later appointed as the Chairman of the Board and President of one of the most prestigious Isshin-Ryu organizations in the world…the Isshin-Ryu Hall of Fame.
During his tenure with the IHOF, Don assisted in the induction of Grand Master Tatsuo Shimabuku, Harold Long, Harold Mitchum, Don Nagle, Steve Armstrong, J.C. Burris and Denny Shaffer. Later, due to health reasons, Don Bordinger submitted his resignation to the Isshin-Ryu Hall of Fame and the IIKA Board in 1986. Over the next several years, Don continued to teach Isshin-Ryu Karate at the Paragon Health Club in Oak Ridge, TN, Webb School in Knoxville, TN and the Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, TN.
Today, Don still actively teaches advanced Isshin-Ryu Karate techniques (many of the same techniques he and Mr. Long used to teach to law enforcement) to ranking students at the Roane School of Isshin-Ryu in Harriman, TN. He comes to the Dojo twice a month to work with Black Belts in the practice of Isshin-Ryu as well as the principles involved with Exercise Physiology (Don holds multiple credentials in Exercise Physiology).
Don was asked to rejoin the I.I.K.A. Board of Directors in January of 2004, which he did. Under his guidance, among other advances, the association’s Constitution has been rewritten and the By Laws are currently under revision. These changes are not restricted to the betterment of the I.I.K.A., but affect Isshin-Ryu overall. We have a renewed commitment to continue to teach pure, undiluted Isshin-Ryu the way Grand Master Tatsuo Shimabuku intended it to be taught. Don has been a passionate voice to accomplish this goal and has been a driving force in this effort.
Don has always been a competitor and a leader. As a young man he held multiple high school records in Discuss, Shot Put, football and boxing. From high school he entered the Marine Corps where he continued to earn distinction for his athletic prowess. Later, he attended the University of Tennessee on an Athletic Scholarship, where he played on the 1950 and 1951 National Championship football teams under General Neyland.
As an adult, Don served as the Assistant Football Coach for Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, TN where, in 13 seasons, the team was reported to have been selected as State Champions in 1 or more poles 7 times. He also coached the first National High School Championship Team and the first All American. Later, Don served as Vice Principal and later Principal at the very same school for many years.
In 1985 Don was inducted into the Oak Ridge Sports Hall of Fame and then inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.
Throughout his life, Don Bordinger has distinguished himself as a leader in not only karate but in athletic pursuits and his professional career. His roots in Isshin-Ryu run deep and his love of our art form is without equal. In honor of his continuing contribution to the I.I.K.A. and to Isshin-Ryu the I.I.K.A. Board promoted Don to the rank of Shichi-Dan in 2006. His quiet demeanor and humility are refreshing in today’s world, and reflect the true spirit and philosophy of the "one heart way."