View Full Version : Sherman Harrill (Isshin ryu karate)

5th November 2002, 01:09
A friend died today, a friend an instructor and an incredible human being. Sherman Harrill of Carson Iowa, USA.

In 1959 as a young Marine, he began the study of Isshinryu in Agena, Okinawa alongside my original instructor Tom Lewis. With the hurried knowledge of the Isshinryu system, the Marines recieved and Shimabuku Tatsuo’s 45 self defense techniques against specific attacks he was on his own as were so many in those days.

Returning to his farm in Iowa, he continued his practice and thought more on how the self defense techniques of Shimabuku Sensei came from kata, and then began to work, and work and work for decades.

With no further instruction Harrill Sensei broke apart the kata’s movements into literally thousands of applications. Over the years he established a very small dojo and over time visitors began to drop on by more and more frequently to study. Eventually he began to travel and offer clinics within the American Isshinryu world and the Midwest Goju and Ueichi communities. He even spent a summer in South Africa a number of years ago continuing to share his studies.

The experience of a clinic with him was literally an encyclopedic study in potential. Normally he’d pick a kata and start showing what you could do with the opening movement. Two or three hours later, he’d eventually realize that it was time to move on to the second movement and so forth. First meeting him, you’d see people leave the clinic shell shocked at what they’d experienced.

He didn’t go into underlying theories, just hit, prodded, grabbed and struck. You discovered vital point strikes up close and personal, and experienced how striking the same point in different directions would obtain different results.

He did his best to keep his kata as pure as he was originally taught, but at the same time, in application he went as far exploring other possibilities as possible too.

As the years passed and medical problems began to accumulate, he’d shrug them off, and instead of staying home and resting, continued to travel and work. I saw times he’d begin a clinic quite ill and finish with incredible energy so much so that you literally had to pull him off the floor and he’d still continue to discuss applications in the changing room and later.

He had great love for his friends, Isshinryu karate-ka in particular and all karate-ka in general.

His most inspiring saying was “It isn’t what we have that’s different that’s important, its how much we have in common!” And he put those words in actions every day.

I share this hoping some will remember his example. What you have in your hands is already everything, if you take the time to work and work and work.

I know he didn’t want us to experience sadness with his passing.

But I’ve lost a friend and an instructor that will not come this way again.

Victor Smith
Bushi No Te Isshinryu

Patrick McCarthy
5th November 2002, 21:19
Dear Victor,

I am terribly sorry to hear such news and extend my most sincere condolences to his family, students and friends. This passing of this human being and his soul will create a huge vortex in the (IR) karate world which I sincerely hope can be filled by the spirit of his memory and important contributions he left behind.

My condolences

Patrick McCarthy

10th November 2002, 00:35
Sorry for your loss.Please share condolences with family.

12th November 2002, 07:25
Condolensces to you, his family and loved ones. Good karateka are a rare breed. God bless..

12th November 2002, 23:01
Mr. Harrillwas smarter than me. I too learned a series of self defense waza based as it turned out, on kata, posibly similar to Shimabuku's Forty-five, from the Odo-Nakamura lineage, but I had to have the principles spelled out to me, twenty years later.Then , and only then, was I able to begin figuring out the possible permutations.

He was a very ingenious martial artist indeed.

Take care.