Classical Okinawan Karate

What is classical Okinawan Karate?

In the old days we trained Karate as a martial art, but now they train Karate as a gymnastic sport. I think we must avoid treating Karate as a sport – it must be a martial art at all times!

Choshin Chibana

Our classical approach to karate training focuses on the mastery of basic techniques, conditioning, understanding good body mechanics, and an in-depth study of kata and the lessons they contain. The classical approach is not about winning; it is about not losing.

Isshin-ryu Karate teaches …





Anyone can learn karate; men, women, and children (13-years and older). It is not about size and strength. It is about technique and skill.

About the instructor …

Darren Gilbert is a 5th Degree Black Belt in Isshin-ryu Karate and a student of the late Sensei, Sherman Harrill. He teaches karate in Norris and Knoxville, Tennessee, attends several seminars a year, and enjoys working out with friends and fellow martial artists of different styles.

Darren began his karate training while in high school, studying Uechi-ryu with Sensei Bruce Witherell in Adams, Massachusetts. He then studied Tae Kwon Do while stationed at Camp Casey in South Korea. After returning to the U.S., Darren began his Isshin-ryu training with Sensei Allen Wheeler in 1983.  His last formal Isshin-ryu instructor was Sensei Sherman Harrill from Carson, Iowa, who sadly, passed away in November of 2002. Darren also trains in traditional Okinawan Kobudo with the RyuKyu Kobudo Shimbukan and in Largo Mano Escrima.

Information on classes and training …

Darren Gilbert is the karate instructor for the University of Tennessee’s Martial Arts Club. The club is open to any UT students, faculty, or staff.

Spring 2023 Schedule

Location: TRECS Studio 7, Mon, 8:15 to 10:15 PM & Wed, 8:30 to 10:00 PM

In addition, Sensei Gilbert teaches a class in Norris, TN:

Thursdays, 7:00 to 8:30 PM
St Francis Church Parish Hall
Norris, TN

Private instruction is available.