Master Jerry Sullivan began his love of Isshinryu karate in the fall of 1976 under Master Kelly Markham at Kelly’s Heroes in Rogerville, Tennessee. Karate brought a sense of purpose, peace, and discipline to Jerry’s life. After competing in over 30 tournaments without placing, he did not give up as many would have. This positive attitude and a persistence to achieve his dreams paid off in 1979 when he won his first tournament. After that, there was no stopping “the rooster.” He would walk into a tournament arena and immediately go to the middle of the floor, where he was known for his loud “roster crow.”Everyone knew that “Jerry was in the house” and that’s how he liked it. This cocky attitude was probably not appreciated by many, but his kind heart and respectable sportsmanship behavior in the ring would eventually win over even the sternest opponent.
Master Sullivan was awarded his Black Belt in 1980 by Sensei Kelly Markham. He studied under Master Kelly Markham, Master Ralph Snake Smith, Master Allen Wheeler, Master Devoit Wright, Master Ron Honeycutt, and Master Dave Park. Jerry has competed in over 300 tournaments and won his first Grand Championship in 1983 at Kelly’s Heroes First Invitational Tournament in Rogersville, Tennessee. From there he has won grand championships numerous times and was rated in the top ten in Region Eight Karate Illustrated in the 1980s. Jerry competed in 5 tough man contests through the years from 1979 to 1991.He received his Go Dan in 1996 and now is a Sichi Dan. He has received many awards including the Isshinryu Hall of Fame Instructor of the Year in 2007, Sensei of Sensei in 2008, Dragon Tab from Master Shaffer in 2009, Heroes Lifetime Award from Master Markham in 2010, and IKKA Instructor of the year in 2011. Jerry has instructed hundreds of children and adults at Kelly’s Heroes where he was a partner. He is especially proud of the achievements of his students and feels that their accomplishments in the Isshinryu system are his reward. Jerry has done charity work over the years in the name of Kelly’s Heroes by participating in the Relay for Life, as well as career fairs at area schools, raising money for the Children’s Network, and fundraisers for individuals in need.
Master Sullivan is a welding instructor at Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology and a CWI (Certified Welding Inspector). Jerry is married to Penny and they have three children and two grandchildren. Jerry’s motto is “God first, family second, and Isshinryu third.” He firmly believes in Matthew 18:4, “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
He credits all his good fortune and blessings to God and would be nothing without his guidance.