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About Don Isaak

Don Isaak, owner and instructor of the Ancient Arts Family Karate/Ju-Jitsu Academy, also known as Shihan to his friends and students began his karate career at age 12 in Peoria, IL with Hanchi Phillip Koeppel in 1972. Shihan quickly adapted to the style of “Shorei-ryu” as it was called at that time. In 1974, he taught private lessons as part of an “introductory package” which was popular at that time and was promoted to Assistant Manager of Hanchi Koeppel’s “Hombu” or home school. Hanchi Koeppel owned 7 schools at that time.

Shihan traveled extensively throughout the Midwest competing at various tournaments over a 6-year period with Hanchi Koeppel. Once he graduated from High School in 1978, he went to work full time at the Koeppel Karate schools. He was asked to travel to Springfield, IL to work at that location for 3 months. Then he was offered his own school to manage in Champaign-Urban, IL where he worked for another year.

He then joined the United States Air Force in 1981 and was stationed at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma City, OK. There he studied with Tom Haggerty the ancienct art of Seikichi Toguchi Shorei Kan Goju-Ryu. Toguchi was a direct descendant of Chojun Miyagi, founder of Goju-Ryu. Isaak trained for 3 years and earned his 1st Degree Black Belt in July of 1985. During this time, he met Mike Dillard, owner of Century Martial Art Supply and was asked by Mr. Dillard to open and run a new store in Atlanta, Georgia.

Shihan started teaching Shuri-Ryu out of the Atlanta Gym in 1985 becoming the first person to establish a Shuri-Ryu Karate school in the state of Georgia. He learned and taught Shotokan for a short period under Ren Halverson and earned his Black Belt in Shotokan.

In 1988, Shihan opened his first full time school out of Golds Gym in Doraville, GA. Shihan taught there for 2 years and moved his established business into a 1500 sq ft. store front in Decatur GA. That location was moved to the Decatur Toco Hills location and is still open today. (under a different owner). When the Decatur school moved in 1994, Shihan then opened the Peachtree Corners school in Norcross, GA and promoted that school for 6 years. He then sold that school and established the Budokan Karate Dojo in 1999 in Cumming, GA.

He came to Cary, NC in 2008 where he opened the Ancient Arts Family Karate/Ju-Jitsu Academy at its present location. Over the next few years, he has established himself in the community as a strong leader and mentor with a strong personal goal of giving back to that community.

He has competed in over 200 tournaments and has been nationally ranked in forms, fighting and weapons. He was the 1989 #1 forms and #1 Light Heavyweight fighting champion (Naska)  in the Southeast region. He has attended over 70 seminars on the martial arts and is currently active in promoting and teaching seminars. He has won numerous awards for his outstanding achievements from his students, mentors and community.

Shihan’s rank consists of 7th Dan Okinawan Karate, 6th degree Shuri-Ryu karate, 3rd degree Shinto Yoshin Ryu Ju-Jitsu, Gakusha (Black Belt) weapons, Yudansha (black belt) Shorei-Kan Goju-Ryu karate, Yudansha (black belt) Shotokan karate. He is also a member of the Living Legends Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement and was awarded "Master of the Year" 2011 by the AAMA.


Shihan has produced 6 videos available worldwide on the Shuri system and has a series of 6 DVDs on the system of Shuri-Ryu by CenturyVision.

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