Harold G. Long was born in Rockwood, Tennessee, on September 3, 1930. He was one of thirteen children born of Bessie Marie Fance Long and John Riley Long. In 1934, his family moved from Rockwood to Morgan County, where he attended elementary school in Petros, Tennessee. Mr. Long attended Central High School in Wartburg, Tennessee where he excelled as a football player.
In 1949, Mr. Long joined the United States Marine Corps, but was not called to duty until 1950. He was sent to Paris Island, South Carolina where he completed his basic training, and then to Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, where he completed advanced training. Shortly thereafter, the Korean conflict broke out and he was transferred to Camp Pendleton, California, to bring the 1st Marine Division up to strength.
In 1950, as a young marine in Korea, he fought against the Chinese Army at the battle of Chosen Reservoir (a battle which has been termed by today’s historians as, “the most savage fighting in modern warfare.”) With temperatures ranging between four degrees below zero to thirty-five degrees below zero, the Chinese Army had orders to annihilate the marines at the Chosen Reservoir, which they almost succeeded in doing. The small number of marines who overcame staggering odds and survived later became known as the “Chosen Few.” Today, they are referred to as the “Eternal Band of Brothers.”
Upon returning home, Mr. Long married Doris Witsberger on October 18, 1952 in Wheeling, West Virginia. They had three sons, Richard, the oldest, born in Camp LeJeune, North Carolina; Michael, born in San Diego, California; and Gary, born in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In the mid 1950's, Mr. Long was stationed on Okinawa. For most of his life, he had a desire to study martial arts. Now, with an opportunity at hand, he sought out the best Karate instructor on Okinawa.
His search led him to Chan Village (pronounced Chun) where he found a teacher by the name of Tatsuo Shimabuku. After three visits to Master Shimabuku's dojo, Mr. Long was accepted as a student and began training, where he studied and worked out vigorously over a nineteen month period.
When Mr. Long again returned to the United States, he was stationed at Twenty-nine Palms, California, where he opened his first dojo in his back yard. After his discharge from the Marine Corps, in July 1959, he returned to East Tennessee, and opened a dojo at the Marine Reserve Training Center.
In 1973, Mr. Long returned to Okinawa to visit with Grand Master Shimabuku. During this visit he discussed his plans with Master Shimabuku to start a new Isshin-ryu Karate association in the United States. Master Shimabuku did not object to Mr. Long’s idea, and the I.I.K.A. began to take shape.
In December of 1995, Master Long closed his dojo in Knoxville, Tennessee, and retired from active teaching. He moved into the US Navel Retirement Home in Gulfport, Mississippi, in 1996, where he remained active representing Isshin-ryu Karate at tournaments, clinics, seminars and special events.
In December of 1997, he represented Isshin-ryu Karate at the World Karate Union Hall of Fame's annual event in Australia. While returning home to Gulfport, he was involved in an automobile accident and underwent several surgeries to repair ruptured blood vessels in his brain. In August of 1998, while still recovering from the accident, he flew to Knoxville, Tennessee to visit his family. During this visit, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Mr. Long remained in Knoxville until his passing on October 12, 1998.
Master Long was laid to rest at Oak Grove Cemetery in Rockwood, Tennessee on October 15, 1998. Listed below are his major accomplishments and contributions to Isshin-ryu Karate:
- Founded the International Isshin-ryu Karate Association (I.I.K.A.)
- Co-authored a three book series, The Dynamics of Isshin-ryu
- Karate, with Allen Wheeler
- Founded the Isshin-ryu Hall of Fame
- Inducted into the Isshin-ryu Hall of Fame
- Co-authored Okinawan Weapons, with Phil Little
- Founded the Isshin-ryu Black Belt Society
- Co-produced an eight tape instructional video series, “Isshin-Ryu Karate, The Ultimate Self Defense,” with Tim McGhee
- Inducted into the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame, in Knoxville, TN
- Co-produced the first national television coverage of the Isshin-ryu Hall of Fame Karate Tournament with Tim McGhee
- Issued membership into Tao of the First Martial Arts Fraternity
- Co-Authored Who’s Who in Isshin-ryu, with Phyllis Manis Tim McGhee
- Issued membership into the World Head of Family Sokeship Council for Isshin-ryu Karate
- Awarded an “Honorary Doctorate Degree” by the College of Martial Arts
- Received the “Golden Life Achievement Award” and “Martial Arts Pioneer Award” from the World Head of Family Sokeship Council Hall of Fame
- Inducted into the World Karate Union Hall of Fame
- Inducted into the World Head of Family Sokeship Council Hall of Fame
- Co-authored Isshin-ryu Karate, The Ultimate Fighting Art, with Tim McGhee
- Inducted into the Universal Martial Arts Hall of Fame
- Received the “Living Legend Award” from the World Head of Family Sokeship Council