Master Shimabuku often received
complaints from the other karate Masters on Okinawa about Sensei
Nagle. They would complain that Master Shimabuku was sending
Sensei Nagle to embarrass them and their students since he would
go into their dojo and beat their black belts in kumite.
Master Nagle left Okinawa as a 4th Dan.
When Master Nagle's tour of duty on Okinawa was over he returned
to the U.S. and began teaching Isshinryu Karate at Camp Lejeune
NC. It was during this time that he met Captain Ernie
Cates a well known Judo practitioner.
Master's Cates & Nagle opened a Karate/Judo Academy in Jacksonville,
NC. Master Nagle often said that if it were not for Ernie
Cates he would never have continued in Karate. In 1958
Master Nagle formed the 1st Isshinryu Karate Organization called
the IKA (Isshando Karate Association).
After his discharge from the Marines on September 11th, 1959
he returned home to New Jersey and opened his first commercial
Karate Dojo at 524 Mercer Street in Jersey City.
In the early to mid 1960's Master Nagle had a famous karate
competition match between Master Peter Urban a student of the
late Master Gogen Yamaguchi and himself in the Manhattan Center.
This was certainly an exciting time in Master Nagle's life.
In 1964 Master Nagle visited his instructor Tatsuo Shimabuku
for a short time in Pittsburg PA. In 1966 Master Shimabuku
came to visit with Master Nagle in NJ for 2 weeks.
During this visit Master Nagle was promoted to 8th Dan by Master
Shimabuku. Around 1967 Master Nagle began to work for
the Jersey City Police Department. During the mid 60's
Master Nagle branched out with student Joel Buchholtz and opened
a Karate School in Bayonne, NJ on the 2nd Floor of a building
on 22nd St. and Broadway. In 1969 Master Buchholtz & Nagle
purchased a building on 19th St. at 412 Broadway in Bayonne,
In 1970 Master Nagle was honored for being the Policeman of
the Year. Later in 1973 his dojo was moved to it's
present location at 371 Central Avenue in Jersey City.
In 1977 Master Nagle joined the Narcotics Squad of the Jersey
City Police Department. During his years of service with
the police the name "Nagle" became synonymous with fear.
Several times Master Nagle dressed up in female attire to trap
an unsuspecting narcotics suspect. Master Nagle related
a story that one time he was in the middle of one of these narcotics
groups they had under suspicion and one of them said, "I'm going
to get that Nagle" while he was standing not 2 feet away.
Master Nagle was known to go up to a basketball court where
the local "tough's" would shoot hoops and hang out while on
duty walk under the net and from a dead stand still jump up
in the air and kick the net with his foot. Upon landing
he would then say, "Now who wants to fight me?"
Shihan Mark Wzorek told me of a time at Master Nagle's dojo.
During this time he related that everyone was sparring and Master
Nagle walked in and locked the door. Master Nagle
then told everyone that they were not leaving until everyone
had blood on them. At the end only Master Wzorek was without
any blood and so he had to spar with Master Nagle. Needless
to say he too had blood by the end of that fight.
This was a time of no pads and full contact matches. One
account I read stated that Master Nagle would apprehend between
8 to 12 men at one time single-handedly. When backup
arrived they were already all laid out.
Ralph Passero noted that few people practice Isshinryu Karate
they way Master Nagle did. His lightening fast technique
overwhelmed his opponents. Master Nagle was always very
thin and I am sure this aided him with his lightening fast speed
and technique. Master Nagle's wild side earned him
a reputation in Okinawa and he was quickly tabbed as, "The Laughing
Red Devil" because of his fighting attitude and spirit.
A lot of time on the job perps (Perpetrators) see me as a little
guy explained the 5 ft 8 Nagle. To Someone 6'3 or 6'4
I would announce that they are under arrest and they think I
am going to have a little problem with that. But I don't
have a problem. If they decide to use force I just use
superior force. I am proud to say that I never put anyone
in the hospital as a result of an apprehension.
The Late Shihan Don Bohan related an account of Master Nagle.
He's so thin and light no one can believe he's as fast and as
powerful as he is. I remember an incident some years back
I was doing some bartending and Sensei Nagle and another guy
came into the bar. I was a black belt at the time and
considered myself pretty fast. A fight started and
nine guys attacked the Sensei. Before I could come from
behind the bar he and the other guy had put them all away.
And it was Sensei who had done most of the work. In Just
seconds! nine guys! It was almost unbelievable.
Hanshi Ed McGrath "The Voice Of Karate", once said, "His
speed was fantastic! even after we had achieved high ranks
and had won championships at the various tournaments Sensei
Nagle could still do just about anything he wanted to us.
He could actually call his shots in kumite in the dojo.
He would say, "I'm going to hit you with my left fist on the
right side of your face and then he would proceed doing it three
times in a row. He was so fast you just couldn't stop
Master Joel Buchholtz once stated, "Master Nagle was constantly
in trouble with Tatsuo Shimabuku because of his desire to learn
and learn as much as possible. He would visit other dojos
and fight the best black belts he could find. Master
Shimabuku would receive complaints from the other Sensei's who
thought he was sending Mr. Nagle around to make their best men
look foolish because this was just what he was doing.
We had a 15 ft ceiling with a ball hanging from it. Sensei
Nagle would throw kicks at the ball maybe 10 ft from the ground
and would hit it. He would do it from a standing position
and then he'd have the ball raised and he would keep on throwing
kicks untill he couldn't hit it anymore. The Ball might
be right up to the ceiling 15 feet from the ground and he'd
keep kicking it until he couldn't raise his feet. Then
he'd be ready to start his class.
Sensei Nagle never did look for trouble. One day while
on duty he went into a bar to check it out. He was spotted
as a cop and surrounded by 5 guys. He did not want to
make a big scene and have anyone get hurt and he wasn't in a
position where he could fight without hurting anyone and he
could have gotten hurt himself. So he screamed and charged
and as the startled guys jumped back he headed for the door.
He got about 2 feet outside the door then he turned and waited
and he caught them one at a time as they came through the door."
One Sensei once said, "So how would you like to be the loser
who tangles with Nagle? without knowing who he is.
One of my students was picked up in a narcotics rap in Jersey
City by Nagle. He didn't know who he was up against and
said I'm a black belt. And stated his name. Nagle
didn't tell him anything. My student made the wrong move
and Nagle took him out with a shuto to the forehead and a round
house to the chest. The kid never knew what hit him."
Sensei Nagle explained when reminded of the incident, "I'm issued
a gun and can use it. But I'd rather solve these problems
without hurting anyone."
Shihan Don Bohan said, "He
was a fabulous teacher and he not only taught us how he
taught us why.
Grand Master Peter Urban said,
"He was the toughest fighter I ever fought! He was one
of the Great Pioneers of Karate."
Hanshi Aaron Banks said, "He
represents to me what the American karate Ka should be.
He is one of the country's top Karate Ka's and one of it's finest
Hanshi Chuck Merriman said,
"Karate is in dire need of men of Mr. Nagle's dignity,
integrity and leadership."
Hanshi George Coffield said,
"Sensei Nagle is a credit to karate and karate needs more men
Master Nagle trained some of the finest karate men around some
of his students include; Ed McGrath, Gary Alexander, Ralph Chirico,
Joel Buchholtz, Nick Adler, Dennis Hoare, Robert Mansfield,
Dale Jenkins, Lou Lizzotte, Dr. Michael Wanko, Don Bohan, Don
Nash, Jim Chapman, Guilio Cavallaro, Morgan Torres, Brian Fitzgerald,
Vincent Manning, John Castellano, Don Crooks, Carl Clarino,
& William Knobloch to name a few.
Some people Master Nagle met and had friendships with include;
Peter Urban, Bruce Lee, George Coffield, Pete Siringano Sr.,
Michael DePasquale Sr, George Dillman, Chuck Merriman, Chuck
Norris, and Aaron Banks. Master Nagle chose to stay in
the background not in the limelight. He never had to prove
anything to anybody and it wasn't his way to puff himself.
His joy came from making you feel good.
In the 1987 Master Nagle accepted 10th Dan at the request of
the present day senior ranking leaders of Isshinryu. He
really did not want to do this but did it for Isshinryu.
Master Nagle said several times before he died that he often
thought he would go back to 8th dan so as to stem the tide of
so many wanting to be 10th dan. In the Late 80's
Master Nagle teamed up with Master Harold Long in an attempt
to unite Isshinryu karate.
For a time Master Nagle tried to unite Isshinryu with a new
karate organization the UIKF (United Isshinryu Karate Federation).
In November of 1990 a banquet was held in honor of Master Nagle.
In 1990 Master Nagle received Letters of commendation from the
General Comandant of the US Marine Corps, The US Congress, and
the Govenor of NJ. In 1992 Master Nagle tried a
run for sheriff in Hudson County. In 1992 Master
Nagle also did a seminar in Florida for Master Joe Murphy.
In 1995 Master Nagle did a seminar with Master A.J. Avincula
in New Jersey for Masters Nash, Kim and Marriner.
In late 1995 Master Nagle revived his portion of the AOKA.
In 1997 Master Nagle hosted his 1st Hall Of Hall awards banquet
with over 650 people present. It was a huge success.
Master Nagle had then celebrated his 41st year in Isshinryu
1998 Master Nagle called a meeting of his senior students and
followers to discuss his wishes should he pass away. Master
Nagle's love was always for his students and Isshinryu.
Master Nagle was about being on the deck with his students that
is where his true love was. Several months before he died
he had a slight stroke. I can remember visiting him in
Bayonne Hospital and he was up and around the next day.
Months later he had a heart attack a week or so before he died.
While in the hospital I was told he would throw a flurry of
punches to set off the heart monitors. The nurses
would come running in and yell at him and he would say to them,
"What are you going to do throw me out I don't wanna be here
anyway." He told one of his senior students that he was
going to get out of bed, do a few laps around the hospital and
then beat him up. Right to the end he was as fast as he
ever was. During the last few years before he died
he worked as a deputy US Marshall working in the courts as a
Master Nagle's philosophy was this, "It is not the critic who
counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives
valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again because
there is no effort without error and shortcomings; but who does
actually strive to do the deeds. Master Don Nagle passed
away on August 23rd, 1999 at the age of 61. Master Nagle
will be sorely missed by all we love you Sensei Oss!