Russell Peter Best, Sr. was born on July 24, 1937 in Long Branch, New Jersey to his parents, Irving and Loretta Best, Sr. On January 11, 1957, he enlisted into the United States Marine Corps. After Parris Island, he was stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA where he met his wife of 52 years, Catherine Best. They were blessed with four children.
In June 1964, Cpl. Best received orders to Okinawa, Japan and assumed the duties of Legal Chief of Camp Smedely D. Butler Marine Corps Base. Within days, he was fortunate enough to meet and begin karate training under the founder of Isshin-Ryu karate, Soke Tatsuo Shimabuku. After earning a Sho Dan from his sensei, Tatsuo Shimabuku, Sensei Best returned to the U.S.A. and began instructing karate on each Marine Corps Base he was assigned to.
In June 1967, Sensei Best and his family received orders to Marine Barracks San Juan, Puerto Rico. As a result of this transfer, the Isshin-Ryu Karate system was introduced to that beautiful island. While in Puerto Rico, his close friend, Master Steve Armstrong, mentored by mail.
While on R&R from Vietnam, Sensei Best returned to Okinawa in 1971 and trained under both Tatsuo and Kichiro Shimabuku at the Agena dojo.
Sensei Best returned to the U.S.A. and after 22 years in the Marine Corps, he retired and entered Law Enforcement by becoming a Shelby County, Tennessee Deputy Sheriff. He later moved to Maryland to become a Prince George’s County Police officer. He retired from Law Enforcement after 22 years as a Police Sergeant.
Master Best was awarded the Silver Life Achievement Award at Don Nagel’s AOKA Hall of Fame in Bayonne, New Jersey in September 1997. He was also awarded the Grand Master Instructor of the Year Award by the World Head of Family Sokeship Council in 2006.