Successor to Grand Master Don Nagle
I Will Keep His Legacy of Isshin-ryu Alive
I was Grand Master Don Nagle’s number one fighter for decades and after fifty years of learning, fighting and teaching I have put together a seminar that includes the use of the kata's for self defense and hand-to-hand combat. I will also show you the stylish and beautiful in the manner of movement, during the 50’s and 60’s. We never fought in a boxer’s stance. In fact, Master Gary Alexander stated of the first time I came to Sensei’s Jersey dojo, that all of Sensei's’ students were on the deck. They waited for me to arrive at the dojo in New Jersey, from Camp Lejeune. Gary said that when I came through the door with my Gi tied in my obi, over my shoulder, he turned to the other students and said, “That is him.” It was probably my enthusiasm for a chance to fight all of Sensei’s students, one at a time till they went down and then move to the next student, until I had beaten all of the students.
All of my seminars are interactive with the students attending the session. I make all of the movements clear and easily used. You will be able to defend yourself with useful Ippon Kumite that stops multiple opponents’ attacks with hands, feet, elbows and knees. My motto, as you may know, is don’t get hit. You should always be in excellent shape so that you can take a strike to the body, without failing to continue fighting. My method is to circle the opponent in arcs, changing the direction of the arcs and staying just outside the opponents reach. By moving in arcs and changing direction often, I am trying to get my opponent into in an imbalance, which opens the opponent to your attack, but when the opportunity happens you must move quickly and keep your hands open and shoulders and arms relaxed. That will give you more speed for defense and offense. When you throw a strike you slam your hands into a fist at the last moment, remembering to snap the punch or kick, since that will give you deadly focus.
In the late 50’s we actually struck your opponent, since Master Nagle fought in true battle form. It was only in the 70’s that we realized that it was difficult to gain students if they were continuously going to their business with bruises on their face.
Obviously, in my seminars, I lean heavily on my motto, “Don’t Get Hit.” I begin by using interactive Ippon Kumite to give the students a good base of defense, but then show them the manner in which we moved our hands in rhythmic and varied circles, to confuse the opponent during Ju-Kumite. It was a much more elaborate and graceful manner of Ju-Kumite. What they are doing now, at tournaments, looks like a street fight. I stress to the students to maintain a good manner of moving into the opponent, since I teach students not to confront the opponent, but to move to their side taking away one of their arms and eye. I want my students to circle the opponent, just out of reach and continuously turn in direction in a series of arcs. I realize that you have been taught to use a group of blocks, such as, Middle blocks, High Blocks and Low Blocks, as well as a Foot Block against an opponents’ kick. However, over five decades of fighting and teaching I no longer use the usual blocks, but instead, I use the palm of my hand to redirect the strike across the foe’s body, which causes openings in the opponents defense, just long enough to take control of the opponents’ imbalance to strike him in a vital area of his body hard enough to end the contest.
If you are interested in the manner in which Isshin-ryu students fought and did kata, since we never stood in a boxer’s stance as used now, your students will enjoy and cherish this seminar. The cost for the seminar is:
$300.00 for three hours, plus expenses (includes extra time for taking photos and autographs).
That’s right, I don’t charge $1,000.00, simply because I want as many of Isshin-ryu karate-ka our to fully understand Original Isshin-ryu in its Full Essence! Also, the Sensei who is fostering the seminar should be able to gain a profit for his school. There are no various types of Isshin-ryu, only different types of people who, because of their particular physique will exhibit the kata's as they are able to do them, but the basic Isshin-ryu does not change its movements. Those who change The Essence are trying to gain an improper forward position, where none exists. If you are in Isshin-ryu, you do not change what Shimabuku created, which came to life after having a lifetime of karate. He was simply making a style that was totally natural for a persons’ normal movement. I know that some high ranked Sensei's state that you can’t fight multiple opponents, simultaneously. But I don’t believe that, at all, since I fought four young men in the street, when they tried to mug me. You simply have to move in arcs driving a back-fist into one persons’ face, while throwing a back kick to an opponent behind you. It is difficult for four people to attack you, because they get in each other’s way. You must move to keep them bundled together, while you pick off the assailants’ closest to you.
Ed McGrath, Ju-Dan
Grand Master, Isshin-ryu
Student of Don Nagle,
“The Living Legend”
Comments from Sensei's Who Have Used My Seminars
Ernie Temple, Ku-Dan, Isshin-Ryu:
“What an excellent way to spend an evening with one of the legends and pioneers of Isshin-Ryu Karate, Grand Master Ed McGrath as he presents one of his outstanding Kumite seminars. Mr. McGrath visited our dojo on February 15, 2002 and held the attention of our students with many stories of his days training with Grand Master Don Nagle. Mr. McGrath’s delivery is humorous, warm and enlightening. I wholeheartedly recommend every Isshin-Ryu dojo to schedule an evening with Grand Master Ed McGrath.”
In the Bohan Family web site, when Wayne Wayland asked Master Bohan, who was the best fighter he ever fought, he said, “Gary (Alexander) was the hardest to get the upper hand on and Don (Nagle) was the most hard-nosed meanest man ever to take to the mat, but Ed (McGrath) was probably the best fighter I ever fought. He was the constant technician, always in shape, and the most difficult SOB to catch with a good shot. In fact we used to exchange techniques all day long. It was a learning experience. Just look at his students. Somebody knows something!”
Gary Alexander, Grand Master,
The Man - Ed McGrath – The Officer, Gentleman, Warrior and Loyal Friend, a man that lives his life by “The Code” –Honor, Integrity, Chivalry.
“When I think of Ed McGrath, the first images that come to mind are the man’s innate qualities of Honor, Integrity and Chivalry that make the Warrior-Officer-Gentleman what he is and why he is so respected and honored in any circles he enters.
As they arrived (perhaps 4 or 5) one gentleman in the group immediately drawing the attention of the entire floor. All eyes, including mine stuck with this man ( we always sized up “everything that moved around us – everything”!!! Profiling and Sixth Sense ruled).”
He was Don Nagles No.1 Black Belt for all the right reasons. He was not the type that had to come in such a way as to demand respect (but expected respect) and for our Marine Cadre, we could be blind and pick the “Vibrations” of an Officer. It was immediately recognized and respect given freely.
As that “gloomy” Saturday ensued (regardless of rank, the fights were on) the “Ceremonies?” revolved around tailbones, and tea kettles flying in disarray around the dojo. Holes in the wall usually garnered the names of the crashee and the hole was left there for the next victim. Yes! Another name would be added into the same hole.
As they were waking up, Ed McGrath usually entered the names of his victim(s) imbedded into the walls one at a time. It was Yes Sir all the Way!!! Strategically, anyone that had experience with Ed knew, you never fought him at half mast. If you did, he was coming in like a Steam Roller, and not just from one direction. He is a Strategic, Smart Thinking, Hard Hitting adversary whose battle cry is Tora, Tora, Tora. I think in the back rooms in his Gi, he put on his Hachimaki and came out on the mat, bowed in and went into an apparent suicidal dance, except the dance didn’t last too long, neither did the opponent, and Ed knew exactly what he was doing all the way!!! Every fight, he had a new act (Strategic/Psy Ops). But always Tora, Tora, Tora. He made the point, either in NJ or NY, anywhere, his “Gauntlet” was always “down” to those worthy to meet the challenges.
Ed McGrath reinforced his introduction with hair raising action after fighting most of the dojo by joining us after the action as we would attack the local Tavern for Meatball sandwiches and Beer, to tell strategies, war stories, lick our wounds, and howl at the moon! Note: As was the usual in those days as if one “Warlord” visiting another “Warlords” Camp proving his worthiness. So now, Ed McGrath- “hail fellow well met!” (not for some) took his place at the Top alongside Don Nagle. It has been that way ever since.
He and I became good friends of mutual respect from that time forward. We have had many happenings through the years where we would fight each other for Demonstration purposes (No one ever laughed at our demos) at events such as the Famous World’s Fair Exposition at Flushing Meadows in the 1960’s, early start up tournaments, special groups, on and on. When Ed demonstrated, he wasn’t out there showing the people the True Meaning of Life! He would put the fear of God in them and let them know Marines were built tough.
The Instructor - Ed McGrath “the Warrior Instructor” (Early 1960’s) Shihan McGrath’s first Training Centers (Boot Camps) emerged successfully and still operational in the New York and Long Island arena.
From that sector certain names come to mind of the Warriors he turned out with all the tender loving care of a “Gigantazaurus Rex.” Those that survived his training in those formative years went on to distinguish themselves as the “Devil Dogs” of Shihan Ed McGrath. Malachi Lee, one of Shihan’s first luminaries who trained up and entered the organized tournament circuit like a secret weapon. About 6’ 6”, lean, mean, hard hitting, whipping out (in true Isshin-Ryu fashion) Punches, Kicks, Sweeping, Throwing in all directions about impossible to get a fix on him. He had learned well from his Instructor (McGrath) and emulated his style to a “T.” I had the pleasure of awarding Lee the Grand Championship of my event in 1967, The U.S. Karate Championship, a very worthy win! And of course the “Voice of Karate” on the microphone was his Instructor, a proud Ed McGrath. These are the caliber of men repeatedly turned out by their mentor Shihan Ed McGrath.
On the passing of “Our” leader/Instructor – “Don Nagle,” Ed McGrath was bestowed the Supreme Honor of being designated by Don Nagle to continue the Leadership of Don Nagle’s Isshin-Ryu Karate-Do, as Grand Master 10th Dan. He is reigning in this position (Warrior/Hanshi) with the same dignity and strength shown on that early day at the Mercer Street Dojo in Jersey City.
Phillip Furgason, Hachi-Dan, Isshin-Ryu:
When I invited Grandmaster McGrath to Houston I did not know what to expect. I found two things that impressed me from our first exchange. The first was his ability to convey information easily, fluidly and in a manner that made me know as a karate-ka he was the genuine article. The second was his straight forward demeanor.
The seminar included history of Grandmaster Don Nagle, Hanshi McGrath's 40 years of training with Grandmaster Nagle and Hanshi McGrath's interactions with O-Sensei Shimabuku during one of his first visits to the USA. The history and background gave great insight into two of the greatest pioneers of Isshin-Ryu. It was invaluable and helped put the history of Isshin-Ryu in the USA in a proper perspective. We were just as impressed with his self-defense and bunkai.
When Grandmaster McGrath took to the deck the seminar took a serious turn. It was clear that his agenda was to teach technique for superior “no nonsense” fighting. He taught in a way where all ranks could not only grasp the information but use it immediately. We all found his techniques were easy to apply and worked incredibly well.
Grandmaster McGrath is an example to all of us to the benefits of dedication and devotion to Isshin-Ryu. We appreciate and admire his ability to educate and to spread Isshin-Ryu Karate Do. His example honors the founder, Grandmaster Nagle and all of Isshin-Ryu.
If you have trained with Grandmaster McGrath you know what I am talking about. If you have not I strongly suggest you find a way to do so.
Phillip R. Furgason
8th Dan Isshin-Ryu
Dillsburg Academy of Karate, Robert Shortlidge, Shihan:
In January 2002, The Dillsburg Karate Academy invited Grandmaster Ed McGrath to our school to put on a self defense clinic. The instructors of the school picked up Grandmaster McGrath at the hotel and went to breakfast for a "Meet and Greet" and then proceeded to the school located in Dillsburg, Pa. Also invited to the clinic was the school of Grandmaster Bo Washington, who also teaches Isshin-Ryu Karate.
Once we arrived at the school, Grandmaster McGrath was introduced to the packed dojo of students who were anxiously awaiting his arrival. Next Grand Master McGrath showed and explained various self defense moves that we all practiced. We practiced non stop for hours. The students were absorbing all that they could of the Grandmasters knowledge. At the end of the seminar the students had a chance to ask Grandmaster McGrath about any of the moves that he had showed and about all the years that he has had in the martial arts. The seminar was very enlightening, and the students went home with more knowledge of self defense than they had had when they walked in. We ended the day with a photo session of all the Black belts and students.
The Dillsburg Karate Academy again wants to thank Grandmaster Ed McGrath for his time and knowledge.
Yours in the martial arts Master Robert Shortlidge, Sensei Greg Vasquez, Sensei Gary Diven
Yesterday, April 2, I hosted a Seminar given by Hanshi Ed McGrath. It was a well-received seminar on the Fighting Principles of Isshin-ryu Karate. He was assisted by his student, 7th Dan Frank Klos. Thank you for a great seminar. Hanshi McGrath was the top student of the late Grand Master Donald Nagle. You may visit his web site at www.aokaincmcgrath.com for a wealth of information on Isshin-ryu and other topics.
Chester Holubecki, Ninth Dan
In order to schedule a Seminar with Master McGrath, either contact him through the web site: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (508) 603-1118.