Franklin D.Roosevelt Hargrove

1st Dan, Kodokan Judo
2nd Dan, Omori-Ryu Iaido
2nd Dan, Shindo Muso-Ryu Jodo
3rd Dan, Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-Do

9th Dan, Hanshi Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate-do 

9th Dan, Hanshi Ryukyu Kobudo (The Weapons of Okinawa)

Kaihatsu-sha (開発者), Hanshi, Okinawan Karate-Do Nakazato-Ha Shorin-Ryu

Frank Hargrove developed an interest in the Eastern Culture as a high school student while working on his father tobacco farm in Granville County, North Carolina. He started Karate in 1963 on a very limited basis while at North Carolina A & T College. In 1964, Frank Hargrove entered the United States Air Force and was sent to Okinawa. Upon arrival in Okinawa he was assigned a room with SSGT. Leroy Walker, a Black Belt under Shugoro Nakazato. SSGT. Walker made the necessary arrangements and introductions, but Hargrove still had to go to the dojo and help with the cleaning everyday for a couple of months before he was allowed to train.


Once he started training it was full speed ahead. SSgt. Walker made sure the Frank got off work in time to go to training everyday. In the dojo Frank was very humble and quiet mostly out of fear not realizing the the Okinawan took that as a very desired way to act. One of the first person to befriend Frank was an English speaking Okinawan named Jiro Shiroma and his friend also English speaking Sokuichi Gibu. Frank thought it was a little strange that they would talk English to each other when everyone else was speaking Japanese. Frank said "I couldn't speak Japanese so I listen to every word that came out of their mouth."  Nakazato sensei would often tell them to tell something him something when he ask one of his many question. Shiroma once told him to stop asking questions and just do the karate. Frank went to Nakazato's Dojo six days a week training four hours per day.  He loved the fighting (kumite) action but found it very hard to remember the forms (kata). It took himalmost three months to learn the first kata-Naihanchi Ichidan. Once he learn and understood that kata the other kata came very easy. It was as something magic happened after learning that first kata. By that time SSgt. Walker had given up on him and ask Shiroma to see if he could help Frank. When training was over on Sat. afternoon Shiroma would sometimes make Frank train until the evening training start at 6:00 pm. Those were some long training days six or seven hours of training. Frank was not a quick study because he want to understand everything he did. Most of the other student didn't like him asking questions all the time. Nakazato Sensei would often show him by executing the technique on Frank with NO WORD explanation.  One exciting experience on the way to Black Belt happened when a group of Black Belts came to visit the dojo from Tokyo's Den Den Electric Corp. Hargrove was just a white belt but he had been training about 12 months. The Japanese wanted to fight with the big American. Well, in the first three days of their visit, Hargrove was beating up on them so badly that Sensei Nakazato gave him a brown belt. Frank said, "I was happy, not about the fighting, but about the belt" Two weeks later when the black belts from Tokyo left, Sensei Nakazato took back the brown belt. After taking longer than it normally took, Frank Hargrove made Black Belt on December 2, 1965 at a promotion conducted by Chibana Choshin 10th Dan Hanshi, at that time Nakazato Shugoro was a 8th Dan Kyoshi.


After making Black Belt in December 1965 training got good. All the black belts now wanted to spar and train with him. Nakazato Sensei started to take Frank to weddings to do demonstrations with the Nakazato Dojo. At this time a new white belt Okinawan started to training at the dojo. Within a month of him starting to train he ask Frank to fight (kumite). That was not proper etiquette for a white belt to ask a black belt to kumite unless he was asking for help. Frank knew this was not a request for help. Although Frank didn't know it the new white belt was a black belt in Judo. This one fight established Frank as a Nakazato Warrior Fighter. The new Judo black belt was not able to throw Frank not even one time as he got a sever butt beating. Frank didn't even know what was going on but this was a test of karate vs judo. Nakazato attitude and attention on Frank Hargrove was very different from that day on. Nakazato Sensei start to push Hargrove like never before he made Nidan in June 1966 six months after making Shodan.

During this time Frank Hargrove introduced many young soldiers to the Nakazato Dojo. Earl Watson of Washington, D.C. became his training partner and best friend. Robert Herten of New Jersey became his same size sparring partner and confidant. "We lived next door to each other in the barrack so we always talked technique because he had studied Tae kwon Do before joining the Air Force."  The pressure never let up everybody all the sempai (seniors) in the dojo was pushing Frank to excel. By December 1966 he was again testing this time for Sandan. At the Spring test March 1967 ran by Chibana Chosen, Nakazato Shugoro tested and was promoted to 9th Dan, Hanshi. At this test at the age of 21, Frank Hargrove became the youngest 4th Dan ever promoted in Okinawan Shorin-ryu Karate-Do Kyokai. Frank says he remembers it well because all the Okinawan 3rd and 4th Dans were very upset and the Air Force brass was very happy. The Wing Commander Col. Taylor ask to see a demo and announced it in the Stars and Stripes and the base newspaper did a half page article about the "World's Youngest 4th Degree Black Belt." By this time all his American friends that he had introduced to Nakazato Dojo had returned home but Frank extend to stay in Okinawa for additional time. For the next nine months Frank was a man with a price on his head in the dojo and among other karate schools and  would go dojo thumping at other dojos. During this time Jiro Shiroma was by Frank's side pushing him to fight more especially outside the dojo. Every so often Nakazato would hear about it and tell Frank he was being bad with a smile on his face. In December 1967 Nakazato Sensei told Frank to go teach karate in the United States because he wanted his dojo to be know all over the world. The young 22 year old Frank took the request to heart and pledge to do just that, to make his teacher famous. Today because of the efforts of Frank Hargrove Nakazato Shugoro is the must well known Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate-Do in the world.


Frank Hargrove returned to the United States in December 1967. Still in the U.S. Air Force, he was stationed at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, VA. At Langley with the encouragement of judo player Jack Swift he started to teach karate at the base gym until the class grew to more than seventy student then the base gave him an old small chapel to give his Shorin-ryu Karate classes. Frank also started to enter tournaments up and down the East Coast and won State Championships in Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey. The height of this six month period of fighting was in Washington D.C. when he got to fight Joe Lewis, the current U.S. Heavyweight Champion for the title at the National Karate Championship. In New York at Henry Cho's tournament at Madison Square Garden, Frank says he fought his way through the day's elimination to get the right to fight the defending Heavyweight Champion, Joe Lewis. In the first half of the match, he was all over Lewis, running him out of the ring 3 or 4 times. Hargrove's coach, Tadashi Yamashita, told him to cool down and use some strategy. Well, he cooled down but Lewis heated up. Two angular side kicks caught Hargrove in the ribs with a score of 2-0.

Two months later in Washington, D. C. at Jhoon Rhee's National they decided not to have any defending champions. Oh, was Frank happy! Lewis would have to fight through the eliminations. They lined up, Lewis on one end, F. D. R. on the other end; then, they broke the competitors into two groups Hargrove in one group, Lewis in the other. Hargrove won all of his elimination matches so he could get another chance at Lewis. In Hargrove's ring, Mitch Borbron and some unknown (F.D.R. ) were the winners and Lewis's ring it was Lewis and some unknown. When the rings were brought together, they matched Frank with Borbron and Lewis with the other guy. Frank wanted Lewis so he beat Borbron 3-1. In the fight for 1st place it was a war with Frank waiting and counting and Lewis charging. Lewis had Hargrove 2-0 when Yamashita yelled for him to get Lewis (two points in a row score 2-2). On the move, Hargrove hit Lewis in the face with a back fist - two judges called; one judge said, "no point" and the referee, Ki Wang Kim, said, "no point" A protest was made because there should have been 4 judges and a referee instead of 3 judges so there would be no ties. Hargrove was upset- Yamashita was upset. Mr. Rhee came over- the judges' decision stood. The fight started again and as soon as the judge dropped his hand, Lewis came with a driving side kick (score 3-2). After the fight Lewis came over and told Hargrove that he was a good fighter and that compliment meant more to Hargrove than winning the fight. (Joe Lewis has gone on to the movie industry starring in such movies as "Jaguar Lives" and "Force Five" and in their 40's & 50's spend much time training together. Lewis make more than 25 trips to Hampton, Virginia.)

After several more tournament wins in Maryland and New Jersey, Hargrove decided to go West. In June 1968, he settled in San Francisco. He went to several schools but didn't want to change systems so he worked out in Golden Gate Park every morning. Jim Larkin and some of his friends saw Hargrove training and told him about a tournament in San Francisco and asked if Hargrove would like to go with them. Frank went and boy was he surprised! There were about 150 Black Belts there! This was the American- Japan Butokukai Championship given by Richard Kim — A Black Belt only tournament. It was a double elimination tournament. At the end of Hargrove's second fight which he won 3-0, Jim Larkin came and told him that he had just beaten last year's champion. Frank Hargrove won first place and met and made friends with Ron Marchini who was then the number one fighter in the country. For the next six months he trained at the Chinese YMCA with Richard Kim and entered nine tournaments with the valuable coaching of the Lee brothers, Herbert and Richard. Frank won first place six times and second place the other three times, two of those three times was to his training partner Johnny Burrell and good friend also a Richard Kim student. Jim Larkin wrote many years later the Frank Hargrove came to the West Coast and change how fighting was done. Frank stand up fight until the knock down fighting style put every black belt fighter on alert. The then unknown Bruce Lee would come to the Chinese YMCA on Saturday morning to watch Frank Hargrove take on all comers. This is when Master Kim would have fighting open to any black belt from any school. Frank was able to hone his fighting skills in this developmental environment.  Richard Kim once told him to fight every fight as if he was fighting for his life, that was the spirit of Budo. Frank took this to heart and never lost a Saturday morning kumite. So when he went to the tournaments most of the folk there he had already defeated. In San Francisco there was one fighter who would never go to a competition who gave Frank a run for his money every time they fought, Don Buck Jr. of  Yamaguchi's Goju-ryu connect to Karate Club at San Francisco State University.


In December 1968, Hargrove returned to Okinawa to test for 5th Dan. The Okinawan Board said that he couldn't take the test because no American had taken it before. With the encouragement of Jiro Shiroma, Hargrove decided to stay until he could take the test which wasn't until 3 years later, at which time he was given the name Otetsu-Cho (The Iron Butterfly) for his iron will and soft nature. By that time Frank had extended his studies to other martial arts. He had moved up to Tokyo where he studied Judo at the Kodokan while being a member of the Sophia University Judo Team. Hargrove began the study of swordsmanship (Iaido) under Master Yoneyama at the Yushinkan in Saitama-Ken. In 1972, he won first place in the Shodan-bu at the Saitama-Ken Iaido Championships.

On April 15, 1973 Hargrove made 2nd Dan in Iaido. The fourth art that Hargrove has been graded in is Shindo Muso-Ryu Jodo. Although it's the art he knows the least about he says that it was the most interesting. At first when he tried to enroll they said, "no, no, no", and that Americans were not smart enough to grasp the inner meaning of Jodo. Being aware of the Japanese way of doing things, Hargrove went and watched every practice they had for the next three weeks. Then one of the students gave Hargrove the name of someone who could help him, Don Draeger. Hargrove said, "Meeting Don Draeger was like no other experience I had in Japan." The perfect Martial Artist, or the living example of all the ideals Frank had in mind- six feet tall, 200 pounds of muscle with the quietness and peacefulness of a house cat that looks like a mountain lion. That was how Draeger impressed Frank.
Hargrove started Jodo in a special class for Gaigens under Takai Shimizu, the 25th generation head of Shindo Muso-Ryu Jodo founded by Gonnosoko Muso, the only man to defeat Miyamoto Musashi, Japan's most famous swordsman. Hargrove earned a diploma in stick fighting, but most of all, he learned what a martial artist was and should be from Don Draeger.

"While in Japan, my life was filled with many side stories which could fill the pages of many books. The cultural experience was shocking to a big, black American who could speak Japanese. I was in great demand for T.V. talk shows, movies that needed to show the ugly American and oh, let's not forget white shirt ads. And from the Marital Arts side for the first three years I was in Toyko and every Japanese Karate person I talked to thought it was humanly impossible for a 24 year old American to be a 4th Degree Black Belt under an Okinawan Karate Master. I was young and full of energy, so for three years I was on a one man crusade to show the Japanese how good Okinawan Karate is. I fought in all of the top schools within a train ride, Mas Oyama's Kyokushin Kai, Yamaguchi's Gojukai, Wado Kai, Takushoku University, Shotokan's Yotsuya Dojo to name a few. Never losing a fight to but one fighter, a tall shotokan stylist named Tanaka-San. I became known as the 'Kokujin Ronin', the black wanderer. Then I heard about the Goju-Ryu Club at Nihon University. They had some big Japanese on their team.

I thought 'ah, I bet all the little Japanese let me go over here and get a couple of these big ones.' Boy was I surprised at five Japanese who were my size or larger. I decided that I had better watch first. Man, were they tough. I was overwhelmed. I went over and asked, very politely, if I could train with them. They said, 'no' but they would take me to their dojo and introduce me to their instructor, Morio Higaonna.
This was a real treat. An Okinawan teaching Karate in mainland Japan. It was 'love at first sight'. In two weeks time I would have given my life for this man. Higaonna was fully devoted to Karate and only lived to teach Karate. His Yoyogi dojo was my second home. I became a part of his Nichidai team and we were the number one team in Tokyo for three years in a row. Me and three of my teammates made the All Tokyo Karate Team two years. We dominated college Karate in Shibuya-ku where about ten colleges are founded. Although the study of Karate and the fighting arts was my main purpose for living in Japan, I completed my college work and graduated from Jochi Daigaku in Tokyo. My academic background and the ability to speak Japanese gave me a deeper understanding of the Martial Arts and the Japanese people."


"In 1973, at the age of 28, I returned to America with a 6th Degree Black Belt in Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate, 3rd Degree in Okinawan Goju-Ryu, 2nd Degree in Omori-Ryu Iaido, 1st Degree in Kodokan Judo, and a diploma in Shindo Muso-Ryu Jodo. My goal had been a 5th Degree Black Belt in Shorin-Ryu Karate, but six years later my life had completely changed I was now a 'Martial Artist'." Since returning to America in 1973, Frank Hargrove has help fathered the development of Karate in America from the introduction of safety equipment in tournament fighting, winning the Battle of Atlanta-heavy weight division 1973, to being rated in the Top 10 in North America as a Professional Knock-out fighter (PKA). In 1979 Frank Hargrove began to study the operation system used by martial art schools across America to develop a operational system where quality martial arts could be taught in a class educational environment where the jock gym ideal would be replace with an academy ideal. 

By May 1980 I had written a proposal that was granted almost $100,000.00 to put the plan in action. In the first year over 500 students enrolled in a belt achieving program which was very new to the martial arts market place. Instructors and school owners from across the USA and Canada came to learn how the system worked. By 1982 thirty eight school owners had purchased the MAM&BS,  Martial Arts Marketing and Business System  at a price of $25,000.00. At the Hampton Coliseum Drive location the dojo was teaching 350 students per week. There was a waiting list for start dates. The ideal of great karate training and good business became a reality. 

Frank and his MAMBS partner Roger Werhan taught martial arts school owners across America how to  run successful martial arts schools.

In 1983 Master Nakazato made a special trip to the United States to teach at a Summer Camp at Hampton University and promoted Frank Hargrove to 7th Degree Black Belt and Kyoshi, becoming the first non-oriental in the history of Shorin-Ryu Karate-do to become Kyoshi, 7th Dan. 

Two years later in 1985 Frank's Summer Camp had his teacher with his wife and five of his juniors (rohai) instructors attending to see how he was teaching so many students. In Okinawa a normal dojo would have twenty or so students. A great dojo would have forty-five to fifty students. At the Hargrove dojo thirty students were in each class with at least five or six classes per day. The Okinawans couldn't believe what their eyes saw. 

In 1988, he was inducted into the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame for his life-long pursuit of Karate excellence. Further history was made in 1989 when Master Hargrove was awarded the 8th Dan, thus becoming the highest ranked Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate-do teacher born in the United States teaching in North America. In April 2013 Frank Hargrove applied to the International Okinawan Karate-Do Federation for certification of Okinawan Karate-Do Nakazato-Ha Shorin-ryu  as an official ryu-ha of Okinawan Karate-Do as it's founder.

In an attempt to produce quality Shorin-Ryu Karate in North America Master Hargrove has devoted the last 20 years to developing high quality Shorin-Ryu instructors resulting in the development of four 7th Dans, ten 6th Dans, and fourteen 5th Dans. All who teach Karate on a full-time basis.

From backwoods tobacco farmer to martial artist and system developer, Franklin D.R. Hargrove

Instructors trained by Frank Hargrove through the North American Shorin-Ryu Karate-Do Association: Doug Perry, 7th Dan, Kyoshi; William Adams, 6th Dan Renshi; Cheech Luzzi, 6th Dan, Renshi; Montez Dennis, 6th Dan, Renshi; Rudloph Barfield, 6th Dan, Renshi; C.D. Wiliamson, 6th Dan, Renshi; Terry Gavelin, 6th Dan, Renshi; Jim Webb, 6th Dan, Renshi; Ali Hassan, 5th Dan; Eberheart Welch, 5th Dan; Theo Belle, 5th Dan; Felipi Cabnera, 5th Dan; Rodney Cheeseman, 4th Dan. Each of these Instructors now teach at their own Dojo with some kind of connection to Frank Hargrove's personal teacher of 49 years, Nakazato Shugoro, 10th Dan, Hanshi.

The developer of 

Okinawa Karate-Do Nakazato-Ha Shorin-ryu 

Frank Hargrove's martial arts history