Sherman Harrill

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Sherman Jordan "Tank" "Sherminator" "Harru" Harrill (May 11, 1941 – November 4, 2002) was an American Isshinryu karate teacher.

Early years[edit]

Born in Lebanon, Missouri, Harrill was one of four children of Ernie Eldorse and Etna Estle (Churchill) Harrill. While he was still young, his family relocated to Carson, Iowa, where he finished high school.[1] After graduating High School, at the age of 17, Harrill enlisted in The United States Marines Corps on July 21, 1958. After finishing boot camp and supplemental training Harrill was assigned to the Third Marine Division and stationed at Camp Courtney on Okinawa, Japan beginning on March 6, 1959. There he was bunkmates with Charlie Connors, Gary Baker and John De Santis, who introduced him to Isshinryu karate founder Tatsuo Shimabuku.[2]

Isshinryu karate[edit]

Harrill began studying in 1959 under Tatsuo Shimabuku at his karate dojo in Agena, Okinawa, where he studied for approximately 14 months. He was awarded his first-degree black belt (shodan) in 1960. Prior to leaving Okinawa, in mid-May 1960, Tatsuo Shimabuku called a meeting with Harrill and John De Santis. At that meeting he asked them if they planned to teach karate upon returning to the United States. When Harrill and DeSantis said yes, they received the rank of sixth-degree black belt (rokudan) to be assumed at a later date after they had years of training and fulfilled the requirements.[2]

Harrill was one of the founding members of the Okinawan Karate Union, an organization that was dedicated to the promulagation and preservation of Isshinryu karate in the United States and abroad.[3] He was recognized by "Who's Who in Isshinryu Karate" and was inducted into the Isshinryu Karate Hall of Fame in 2001.[4]

Return to the United States[edit]

Harrill returned to the United States and took a job as a mechanic at Sayer's Volkswagen in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and later moved to Storm Lake, Iowa, where he took a job at Import Motors. On September 11, 1964, he married Linda Marie Nelson at the Storm Lake United Methodist Church. Together, the couple had two daughters: Leslie Marie and Courtney Ann. The family relocated to Carson, Iowa, where Harrill worked at Tim O'Neill Auto center as a salesman and eventually as their service manager.[1]

While residing in Carson, Harrill began teaching Isshinryu karate to his two daughters, Greg Eggers, and Eggers' daughter Angela.

In 1983, Harrill's daughters were killed, along with Angela Eggers, when the vehicle they were riding in was struck by a drunk driver. Harrill then took a job as a school bus driver with the Macedonia School District and later opened Harrill's School of Isshinryu Karate. During that period Harrill also began traveling throughout the United States teaching Isshinryu karate; he also traveled to South Africa to teach karate. Harrill's seminars focused on basics (kihion), forms (kata) and self defense fighting (kumite) techniques.[4]

In 2002, Harrill was diagnosed with esophogeal and stomach cancer. He died on November 4, 2002, as a result of complications of cancer surgery. He was buried with full military honors provided by a color guard provided by The United States Marine Corps Engineer Co.



  1. First Generation Student Speaks Out. By Sherman J. Harrill. Retrieved November 4, 2008
  2. History of the OKU. OKU Website - About us. Retrieved November 4, 2004
  3. Retrieved Sensei Sherman Harrill. Isshinryu Karate Hall of Fame Website. November 4, 2008
  4. Murphey, Milledge. "Isshinryu Karate-do" (1996) One Heart Publishing Co. ISBN 978-0-9653452-0-0
  • Jacob, Rob. "Martial Arts Biographies" (2005) iUniverse, Inc. ISBN 0-595-34861-0
  • Morris, Glen. "Path Notes of an American Ninja" (1993) North Atlantic Books ISBN 1-55643-157-0

External links[edit]