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Grandmaster Donald Francis Bohan


Born: May 23, 1936

At Rest: February 9,1998

Don Bohan was born in NYC, Greenwich Village, on May 23, 1936.   He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps December 1, 1953, and retired May 31, 1973 after 19 ½ years of service to his country.  


He began Isshin-Ryu training in 1958 with Sensei Don Nagle at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina while both were stationed with the United States Marine Corps.  In 1959 Sensei Bohan was sent to Okinawa where he began training in Isshin-Ryu under Master Tatsuo Shimabuku.  Sensei Bohan visited Master Shimabuku's dojo as often as possible while in the Far East with the Marines until Master Shimabuku's death in 1975.  He opened dojos across the country, including North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Florida.

Sensei Bohan was recognized for his lifetime of dedication to the Martial Arts by the following organizations:


·       Awarded the Official Karate "Karate-Ka of the Month".  

·     Awarded the "AOKA Spirit of Isshin-Ryu" award.  

·     Elected an honorary member of the Isshin-Ryu Brotherhood (IB).  

·     Featured five times in "Official Karate" magazine, and wrote several articles for that publication.   


Sensei Bohan was promoted through the rank of 7th Dan by Master Tatsuo Shimabuku and was awarded his 8th and 9th Dan by the American-Okinawan Karate Association (AOKA), of which he was a member from 1970 until his death. He was also a member of the United Isshin-Ryu Karate Association (UIKA) and the United States Karate Association (USKA).   He held black belts in Isshin-Ryu and Bando, and trained with world-renowned martial arts masters including Eizo Shimabukuro and Dr. Maung Gyi.


United States Marine Corps 1952 – 1973

 USMC – Certificate of Completion for USMC Communication School, 1954.

 USMC – Certificate of Completion for USMC Electronics Technician, 1954.

 USMC – National Defense Service Medal – Good Conduct Medal, 1955.

                 Pistol (.45 Cal) Sharpshooter

 USMC – (Corporal) National Defense Service Medal – Good Conduct Medal, 1957.

 USMC – Certificate of Completion for USMC Embassy School, 1959.

 USMC – (Sergeant) National Defense Service Medal – Good Conduct Medal, 1961. (Third Award)

 USMC – Certificate of Completion for USMC Embarkation School, 1962.

 USMC – Certificate of Completion for USMC Drill Instructor School, 1963.

 USMC – Certificate of Completion for USMC N.C.O. Leadership School, 1963.

 USMC – (Gunnery Sergeant/E7) Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal

                 Vietnam Service Medal - W/2 Stars

 USMC – National Defense Service Medal - W/1 Star

 USMC – Republic of Vietnam Cross-of Gallantry - W/Palm & Frame, 1967

 USMC – National Defense Service Medal  -W/1 Star

 USMC – Good Conduct Medal  -W/Silver Star

 USMC – Pistol (.45 Cal) Sharpshooter, 1969


Martial Arts 1958 –1998


1959 - 1975 Sensei Bohan studied under Tatsuo Shimabuku, Grand Master of Isshin-Ryu Karate, until the death of Master Shimabuku

            in  1975.

1959   Sho-Dan (First Degree Black Belt) 

1960   Ni-Dan (Second Degree Black Belt) 

1961   San-Dan (Third Degree Black Belt) 

1963   Yo-Dan (Fourth Degree Black Belt)

1965   Go-Dan (Fifth Degree Black Belt)

1969   Roku-Dan (Sixth Degree Black Belt)

1975   Nana-Dan (Seventh Degree Black Belt)

USMC – 1960 - 1973 Camp Lejeune, NC, Vietnam, Japan, U.S. Naval Base, Cuba, Camp Pendleton, Calf., Cherry Point, NC, Quantico,

            VA, and Okinawa.  Sensei Bohan taught Isshin-Ryu karate with the main objective of preparing Marines for combat.  They were

            taught hand-to-hand techniques, knife fighting, bayonet fighting, bo (stick) fighting, Kumite (free fighting with hands and feet), and

            close quarter night fighting tactics, with the sole purpose of disabling the enemy.

1960 - 1965  Helped to establish the Isshando Karate Association in New Jersey City, New Jersey.  The main objective was to establish

            and open other Isshin-Ryu Karate-Do schools.

1960 –- Gave more then 250 Karate demonstrations of Isshin-Ryu Karate for various organizations.

1960 –- Chief referee for over 300 Karate Tournaments.

1963 & 1964  Grand Champion of the Marine Karate Championship (Kumite).

1964    Grand Champion of the NC State Karate Championship (Kata, Weapons, and Kumite).

1965    Grand Champion in Kata, Weapons, and Kumite at the All Service Championships.

1964 & 1965  Gave Karate demonstrations at the World Fair, New  York City, NY.

1970 –- Member of the American-Okinawa Karate Association (AOKA).

1984    Promoted to Hachi-Dan (Eighth Degree Black Belt) by the AOKA

1990    Was placed on the Board of Directors of the AOKA.

1992    Promoted to Ku-Dan  (Ninth Degree Black Belt) by the AOKA.

1992    Was award with the “AOKA Spirit of Isshin-Ryu” award.


*NOTE: Two weeks before his death Wayne Wayland had a long conversation with Sensei Bohan at his bedside and when ask which promotion, award, or trophy meant the most to him, he answered, “Without a doubt the Sprit of Isshin-Ryu award;  It’s the sprit of the thing.”


Donald Bohan - May 23, 1936 -  February  9,1998



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