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Our Martial Connections



Grand Master Shimabuku Tatsuo (1908–1975) was born September 19, 1908 in Okinawa. He began training when he was around age 23 or 24 at the time (c. 1932).  By 1940, he became the first karateka to ever master both Shorin-Ryu and Goju-Ryu.  He opened his first dojo in Konbu village and began teaching in late 1946. On January 15, 1956, he held a meeting and announced that he was naming his new style of karate Isshin-ryu.


In 1950, as a young marine in Korea, Master Harold G. Long (1930-1998) fought in the battle of the "Chosin Reservoir" against the Chinese Army. While temperatures ranged between four degrees below zero to thirty-five degrees below zero, the Chinese Army had orders to annihilate the marines at the Chosen Reservoir. This battle has been termed "the most savage fighting in modern warfare" by today's historians. The marines that survived this battle became known as the "Chosen Few". Today, this group is referred to as the "Eternal Band of Brothers".  In the mid 1950's, Harold Long was sent to Okinawa. He inquired of his house girl who the best karate instructor was on Okinawa. She did not hesitate in telling him that in Chun Village there was a teacher by the name of Grand Master Tatsuo Shimabuku, who had the reputation of being the top instructor of karate on Okinawa. After several visits to Grand Master Shimabuku's dojo, he was accepted and began training. He trained for nineteen months, as much as eight hours a day, seven days a week, in some cases.When Master Long returned to the United States, he was stationed at Twenty-nine Palms, California, where he opened his first dojo in his back yard. After his discharge from the Marine Corps, in July 1959, he returned to East Tennessee, where the seed of his instruction took root, and branched out to all corners of our nation, which fulfilled the desire of his instructor. In 1974, Master Long returned to Okinawa to consult with Grand Master Tatsuo Shimabuku concerning a new karate association. His accomplishments and contributions to Isshin-Ryu Karate were numerous. Master Long became one of the most influential of Shimabuku's students, forming the International Isshin-Ryu Karate Association.   He ended his career having earned the rank of Ju-Dan, and with a place in the Isshin-Ryu Hall of Fame. He is the patriarch of the Long-lineage of Isshin-Ryu.


In 1963, after some boxing experience and service in the United States Army, Mr. Denny Shaffer walked into what would become Bushido Karate School in Nashville TN and began training in Kung Fu and later in Wado-Ryu Karate with Sensei Cecil Patterson after the Kung Fu teacher left. After meeting some of his students in the ring, Mr. Shaffer began to go to Knoxville TN and train with Mr. Harold Long. Mr. Shaffer opened an Isshin-Ryu Dojo in Nashville TN in 1966. In 1977, Grand Master Shaffer moved to South Carolina and eventually opened the Red Dragons Fight Club. A member of the Isshin-Ryu Hall of Fame,, he was awarded 10th Dan (Ju-Dan) in both, Isshin-ryu and Dragon Sen-I Jutsu - the system he founded.


One of the many future Isshin-Ryu Hall of Fame Instructors from there include Mr. David Gabbard.  Sensei Gabbard started training in Isshin-Ryu Karate there in 1975 at the age of 14.  Master Gabbard, 8th Dan is one of the most successful competitors in the county and operates a Dojo in Tullahoma TN.  Formerly a Williamson County Sheriff’s Office S.W.A.T. Team Leader, he is now employed by Nissan.  In 1974, Sensei Melvin Brown began his martial arts training at the Nashville Dojo of Master Denny Shaffer.  In 1975, he left for active duty in the U.S. Navy and upon his return joined Bushido Karate School with a fellow Army Reservist who had training in Wado-Ryu.  Always interested in competition, as a junior belt he watched the black belt heavyweight division at each tournament with interest and particularly David Gabbard who never seemed to lose. In 1986 after receiving his black belt the previous year he met David in the ring for first and second place and after five clashes was awarded three points to David’s two.  They shook hands and became brothers that day.  Vince Hicks came over after winning the Senior Division and asked David what happened and David said: “He beat me.”  Vince said: “No really, what happened?”  Sensei Brown never beat Master Gabbard again but they spent much time together.  They would often meet in the Tennessee Police and Fire Games.  In 1990 nearly the whole year their schedules allowed them to meet for sparring each Wednesday at the Nashville Dojo in Shiloh Plaza.  Sensei Vince Hicks, who serves as a Nashville Firefighter, Sensei Sandra Strong, and many others attended.  In 1994, they attempted a 100 round sparring marathon in Williamson County as a fund raiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital until Sensei Brown was called away for a S.W.A.T. callout at round 65.  Sensei Gabbard did make it to 75 rounds.  They never attempted this again.  In 1996, they fought a three round full contact kickboxing exhibition fight during a toughman contest in exchange for a $400.00 contribution to Special Olympics.  Both survived.  In 2013, after 38 years, Sensei Brown was reunited with Grand Master Shaffer at a tournament in Ringgold Georgia, where Sensei Matt Brown got to compete with the Red Dragons and made friends for life.

Isshin-Ryu and the lineage of Grand Master Long have had a significant positive impact on the training methods of Sensei Brown and Bushido Dojo.





Kanō Jigorō (28 October 1860 – 4 May 1938) was the founder of judo. Judo was the first Japanese martial art to gain widespread international recognition, and the first to become an official Olympic sport. In his professional life, Kanō was an educator. Important postings included serving as director of primary education for the Ministry of Education from 1898–1901, and as president of Tokyo Higher Normal School from 1901 until 1920.[1] He played a key role in making judo part of the Japanese public school programs of the 1910s. Kanō was also a pioneer of international sports. Accomplishments included being the first Asian member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) (he served from 1909 until 1938); officially representing Japan at most Olympic Games held between 1912 and 1936; and serving as a leading spokesman for Japan's bid for the 1940 Olympic Games.


The Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujutsu of Wado-Ryu Grandmaster H. Ohtsuka is part of the same lineage of Japanese Jujutsu that Judo evolved from.


Mitsuyo Maeda ( November 18, 1878 – November 28, 1941) a Brazilian naturalized as Otávio Maeda  was a Japanese judōka (judo expert) and prizefighter in no holds barred competitions. He pioneered judo in Brazil, the United Kingdom, and other countries.  Maeda was fundamental to the development of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, including through his teaching of Carlos Gracie and others of the Gracie family.[3] He was also a promoter of Japanese emigration to Brazil. Maeda won more than 2,000 professional fights in his career. His accomplishments led to him being called the "toughest man who ever lived" and being referred to as the father of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.


Gastão Gracie was a business partner of the American Circus in Belém. In 1916, Italian Argentine circus Queirolo Brothers staged shows there and presented Maeda.  In 1917, Carlos Gracie—14 year old son of Gastão Gracie—watched a demonstration by Maeda at the Da Paz Theatre and decided to learn judo (also known at the time as 'Kano Jiu-Jitsu'). Maeda accepted Gracie as a student, and the youth went on to become a great exponent of the art and ultimately, with his younger brother Hélio Gracie, founded Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, modern Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.   In 1921, Gastão Gracie and his family moved to Rio de Janeiro. Carlos, then 17 years old, passed Maeda's teachings on to his brothers Osvaldo, Gastão,  Jorge and  Hélio.


Hélio Gracie (October 1, 1913 – January 29, 2009) was a Brazilian martial artist who, together with his brother Carlos Gracie, founded the martial art of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, known internationally as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) He was the father of Rickson Gracie, Royler Gracie, Royce Gracie, Relson Gracie, and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Co-founder Rorion Gracie, According to one of his most notable opponents, Masahiko Kimura, H. Gracie held the rank of 6th Dan in judo.


Of several sons of Professor Helio Gracie, Royce Gracie ( born December 12, 1966) is a Brazilian professional mixed martial artist, a UFC Hall of Famer ,Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. He is considered by some to be the most influential figure in the history of modern MMA.  Gracie gained fame for his domination in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He became known for beating opponents much larger than he was, and between 1993 and 1994, he was the tournament winner of UFC 1, UFC 2, UFC 4.  Gracie popularized Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and revolutionized mixed martial arts with his results contributing to the movement towards grappling and cross-training in the sport.


Royce Gracie was one other primary consultants in the development of Modern Army Combatives.  In 2003, Sensei Melvin Brown Jr. spent a week with training with him in the G.R.A.C.I.E. defensive tactics instructor course and appeared with him in an article in S.W.A.T. Magazine.  Again, he spent a week with him in 2011 and 2012.  Sensei Melvin Brown III and Sensei Tim Pharris have also completed this instructor course.  Sensei Melvin Brown Jr. is a certified Modern Army Combatives Instructor and has taught these skills to hundreds of U.S. Army Soldiers, Iraqi Police, Iraqi Army Military Police, and the  Metro Nashville S.W.A.T. Team .  Sensei Melvin Brown Jr. and Sensei Melvin Brown III are both successful Judo competitors in past World Police & Fire Games and International Law Enforcement Olympics.  Sensei’s Matt Brown, Josh Brown, and Melvin Brown III are all successful Mixed Martial Arts competitors and were also as scholastic wrestling competitors.   Matt Brown has also competed successfully, winning no-gi grappling only events.


UFC Champion Royce Gracie and Ju-Jutsu have had a significant impact on Bushido Dojo training methods.






Choi Hong Hi (9 November 1918 – 15 June 2002), also known as General Choi, was a South Korean army general and martial artist who is a controversial figure in the history of the Korean martial art of taekwondo.  Choi is regarded by many as the 'Founder of Taekwondo'—most often by International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) organizations. He combined elements of Taekkyeon and Shotokan Karate to develop a martial art that he called "Taekwon-Do" which means "foot, hand, the way" or "the way of hand and foot" and it was so named on 11 April 1955.


Mr. T.W. Haw is an 8th degree black belt (8th Dan). He has instructed Tae Kwon Do in Nashville TN since 1969 where he first founded the Vanderbilt University Tae Kwon Do Club and then added Haw’s Tae Kwon Do School off-campus during the 1980’s. Mr. Haw was the first instructor of Tae Kwon Do in Tennessee. Ken R Pence is one of the senior direct students of Master Haw.


Dr. Ken R Pence, PhD is an engineering professor at Vanderbilt University and an active martial artist, a 5th degree blackbelt in Tae Kwon Do. He is a retired captain from the Metro Nashville Police Department where he served 31 years (16 on SWAT) and has taught police and military in the US, and Europe (England, Germany, France, and Northern Ireland) in confrontation management skills. He specializes in weapon recovery and retention and fighting multiple subjects.

Ron Fielder retired from the Metro Nashville PD after 35 years of service. He served in Patrol Officer and K-9 Officer and was with SWAT for 20 years, retiring as Team Leader and Senior Firearms Instructor. Ron spent 5 years as a Sergeant with CIS, responsible for tracking persistent violent offenders. Ron has instructed for local, state, and federal agencies. He has been an instructor at Gunsite since 2000. He teaches Pistol, Shotgun, Carbine, and Rifle. He received his Tae Kwon Do black belt under the instruction of Ken Pence.  Ron’s son Lance Fielder was an early full contact fighter at the Battle of Atlanta and was killed in action during Operation Desert Storm as a member of the U.S. Army.

Sensei Melvin Brown Jr. met Ken Pence and Ron Fielder while a recruit at the Metro Nashville Police Training Academy in 1984.  After graduating, he attended Ken Pence’s Taekwondo class to spar with him and his students.  Sensei Brown and Ron Fielder began a Wednesday afternoon sparring session in 1986 for several years at the training academy for all that were interested as they prepared for the 1986 International Law Enforcement  Olympics in which they both won Gold Medals in Karate.  This eventually became a weekly Friday afternoon session for several years.  In 1993, Sensei Brown accompanied Ken Pence to England and taught a series of self-defense seminars.  He served with both Ken and Ron for many years as members of the Metro Nashville S.W.A.T. Team.


Tae Kwon Do and particularly Ron and Ken have had a significant influence on Sensei Brown’s training methods at Bushido Dojo.