Frank Hargrove

10th Degree Black Belt & Hanshi, Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate-Do

9th Degree Black Belt & Hanshi, Ryukyu Kobudo

Frank Hargrove developed an interest in the Eastern Culture as a high school student. 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 about 2 or 3 months before he was allowed to train. Once he started training it was full speed ahead. After taking longer than it normally took, Frank Hargrove made Black Belt on December 2, 1965.

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 making Black Belt in December 1965, Hargrove made Nidan in September 1966, Sandan in March 1967, and in December 1967, at the age of 22, Frank Hargrove became the youngest 4th Dan ever promoted in Okinawa. Frank says he remembers it well because all the Okinawan 3rd and 4th Dans were very upset and the Air Force was very happy. The Wing Commander 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."

Frank Hargrove returned to the United States in December 1967. Still in the Air Force, he was stationed at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, VA. From Langley, he 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 when he got to fight

Joe Lewis, the current U.S. Heavyweight Champion. 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 sidekicks 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, Frank and some unknown were the winners and Lewis's ring it was Lewis and some unknown. When the rings were brought together, they matched Frank with the guy from Lewis's ring and Lewis with the other guy. Frank wanted Lewis so he beat the guy 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.")
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 Blet 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.

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 22 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 'Kokjin 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 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 29, 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 fathered the development of Karate in America from the introduction of safety equipment in tournament fighting, winning the Battle of Alanta-heavy weight division 1973, to being rated in the Top 10 in North America as a professional Knock-out fighter. In 1983 Master Nakazato made a special trip to the United States 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. 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 tested for 8th Dan, thus becoming the highest ranked Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate-do practioner in the Matsumura-Itotsu-Chibana-Nakazato linage teaching outside of the Orient.In March 2013 Frank Hargrove was granted the 9th Dan in Okinawan Shorin-ryu Karate-do and made Vice Chairman of the International Okinawan Shorin-ryu Karate-Do Union.

In an attempt to produce quality Shorin-Ryu Karate in North America Master Hargrove has devoted the last 10 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.

Today Frank Hargrove  is Karate Grand Master; a scholar, holding  a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Arts and a PhD; and a minister, serrving as an associate pastor of his local church.   He is the father of eight; 20 year old Anyssa,  17 year old Julian, 7 year old twins Arianna & Adrian, and four adult, university educated children Kenneth, Anthony, Raven & Kellie and two adopted children Frankesha and Joseph.  
A few of the Shorin-ryu Instructors trained by Frank Hargrove to the rank he trained them to: 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; Enrique Enriquez, 5th Dan; Ali Hassan, 5th Dan; Eberheart Welch, 3th 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 48 years, Nakazato Shugoro, 10th Dan, Hanshi founder of Okinawan Karate-Do Shorin-ryu SHorinkan Association. The ranks listed are the ranks approved by Frank Hargrove.