Don Roberts, a 10th degree black belt in Isshin-Ryu karate do, began his study of the martial arts in 1959 in Knoxville, Tenn. 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. As no gi’s were available, Mr. Long allowed one of his gi’s to be disassembled and used as a pattern. Wives, mothers, and girl friends sewed uniforms of unbleached domestic cotton, brown in color. Those with brown gi’s were rookies: 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 BA 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 five 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 was inducted into the Isshin-ryu Hall of Fame in 2015. Don also received the Outstanding Executive Award from the OKU in 1988. In 1990 Don, along with his wife Jan, were awarded the O.K.U.s highest honor the Shimabuku Award. And in 2017 Don and Jan were inducted into the TOKA Hall of Fame. Don is also the author of a series of books detailing bunkai of Isshin-Ryu Karate Do kata, eight of which have been released. See the products page for details.