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Master  Don Nagle


Nagle was born in Jersey City, New Jersey on April 5, 1938. As a teenager he began his 1st study of the martial arts taking lessons in Goju-RyuKarate. He enlisted with the United States Marine Corps at age 17 and completed his training at Paris Island, SC. on December 3, 1955. He then went on to Infantry Combat Training at Camp Lejeune. His Military MOS 0121 was Personnel Clerk. He was stationed on Okinawa, the largest of the Ryukyu Islands off the coast of Japan. His 1st assignment was at the 3rd Marine Division at Camp Courtney and later he was transferred to another company and served from July 11, 1956 to September 9, 1957. While with the Marines he was temporarily assigned to the All Marine Judo Team stationed at Camp Lejeune. While on Okinawa he began to study Isshinryu Karate with founder Tatsuo Shimabuku in the fall of 1956 at the Kyan (pronounced Chun) Village dojo and continued until he left the Island in 1957.  While training with Shimabuku he won the All Okinawan Karate Championships as a white belt besting the islands best black belts. Shimabuku awarded him his personal Obi upon winning the championships and promoted him to Sho-Dan 1st degree black belt. 


Upon leaving Okinawa in 1957 Shimabuku awarded Nagle his 4th Degree Black Belt. Nagle returned to the states in 1957 and partnered up with then Sgt. Ernie Cates (1st American Awarded 6th Degree Black Belt in Judo by the Kodokan "Judo Authority of Japan" and future 8 time all Marine Judo Champion) at his dojo located at 220 N. Bridge St. Jacksonville, NC. thus becoming the 1st Isshinryu Dojo in the United States. 


Upon discharge from the Corps on September 11, 1959 he returned home to Jersey City and began teaching Isshinryu at the local YMCA and shortly thereafter opened a dojo at 524 Mercer St. Later he received his 5th degree black belt from Shimabuku from Okinawa. In 1964 Shimabuku visited Pittsburgh and Nagle visited and trained with him during his visit. Nagle hosted Shimabuku in 1966 at which time he was promoted to 8th degree black belt on December 15. 


Nagle became a police officer in 1967 and was awarded policemen of the year award in 1970 and later went on to become a narcoticsdetective in 1977. During his tenure as a police officer and detective he taught hand-to-hand combat for the department as well. As 1973 approached Don Nagle's Jersey City dojo was moved to 371 Central Ave. which is its current location. Official Karate recognized Don Nagle as a "Living Legend" in 1972. Don Nagle's notoriety was so great that he was asked to Promote the first miniaturized version of karate for kids a toy called "Karate Men" at the Aurora Showroom for the annual toy fair in New York City in 1974.


The IIKA (International Isshinryu Karate Association) promoted Don Nagle to 9th Degree black belt on November 2, 1984.[4] Leadership in the style of Isshinryu became an important issue and on October 17, 1987 in Knoxville, TN Don Nagle was elected by the highest ranking black belts in Isshinryu including Lewis Lizzotte and Harold Long to be awarded 10th dan. Nagle received congratulatory letters from NJ Governor Jim Florio, Congressman Guarini and Commandant General of the US Marine Corps Al Gray. Don Nagle gave seminars including three which were recorded between 1988 and 1992 they were in Detroit Michigan, Cape Coral Florida and Ontario Canada. The United Isshinryu Karate Federation was formed on April 19, 1991 by Don Nagle to help fulfill his mandate to unite Isshinryu Karate.


Don Nagle reformed his AOKA in 1996 and held his 1st Hall of Fame and awards banquet in September 1997 in Bayonne. Nagle and student Joel Buchholtz had the American Okinawan Karate Association Name Registered in 1967. After he retired in the late 1990s he was appointed to the US Marshall's service in the security division it was one of his greatest honors in being selected.


Nagle died on August 23, 1999 a day after heart surgery at the age 61.