Don Roberts, a 9th degree black belt in Isshinryu Karate-Do, began his study of the martial arts in 1959 in Knoxville, Tennessee. As a 13-year-old son of a United States Marine Corps Reservist, Don was permitted to participate in a class for Marines conducted by Sergeant Harold Long, who had recently returned from Okinawa. At that time, the art was called Isshin-do karate.
Since no gi was available, Mr. Long allowed one of his gi’s to be disassembled and used as a pattern. Wives, mothers, and girlfriends sewed uniforms of unbleached domestic cotton, brown in color. Those with brown gi’s were rookies, while white gi’s indicated an old hand. Rank structure was white, green, and black.
As a student of history at North Carolina State University, Don was a member of the fencing team, finishing 4th in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. Don left NCSU with a B.A. in History and went on to garner a Master’s degree in history from UNC Chapel Hill.
The passing of years saw training in Gensei-ryu karate, Shito-ryu karate, Togakure-ryu Ninpo, and Jujitsu. As a student of Master Allen Wheeler for over 30 years, Don has served on the Board of Directors of the Okinawa Karate-Do Union, including two terms as President.
In competition, Don has been a member of the U.S. Jujitsu team and has won seven gold medals, as well as silver and bronze medals, at the AAU National Karate Championships.
In 1997, Don was inducted into the Karate and Kickboxing Hall of Fame. Don also received the Outstanding Executive Award from the OKU in 1988. In 1990, Don and his wife Jan were awarded the OKU’s highest honor: the “Shimabuku Award.” Don is also the author of a series of books detailing bunkai of Isshinryu Karate-Do kata, eight of which have been released.