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Tributes to Past Masters

Sensei Allen Wheeler

1919 - 2005

Master Wheeler and his wife, Ruth

Mr. Allen Wheeler, passed away February 14, 2005 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Knoxville. He was 85.

Mr. Wheeler was born October 11th, 1919 in Knoxville. Mr. Wheeler served his country in the United States Army in the European Theater during World War two. He was an automatic rifleman and hand to hand combat instructor in the Army.

For over 57 years Allen Wheeler extensively studied and taught self-defense and the history of karate. As a Karate Master, he served as a leader and positive role model, teaching personal improvement to people of all ages, races and backgrounds. Master Wheeler believed Karate would be a good way to attract young people, and instill in them the values of self-improvement, goal setting, hard work and good citizenship.

Mr. Wheeler’s was a hand-to-hand combat instructor during WWII. He began his training in Isshin-ryu karate in 1961. He opened Wheeler’s School of Karate in 1971 in Powell TN. Mr. Wheeler started the first Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle in a Karate School in the United States. His family is active in karate, his wife, daughter, son and grandson are all black belts, making three generations of karate experts.

Allen Wheeler excelled as a teacher of Isshin-ryu Karate. He authored and co-authored 6 books. The first book published in 1978 has sold over 100,000 copies.

Master Wheeler founded the “Okinawan Karate Do Union” in 1987; it is an association of Martial Artists with members across the United States and many countries around the world. Internationally recognized martial arts experts from all over the world came to visit and train with Master Wheeler and his students in Powell TN. The techniques and theories taught and practiced at his school make it one of the most advanced, on-going martial arts instructional activities in the United States.

His students saw him as a leader in life as well as karate. He helped many people through the most difficult of life’s challenges. He had many longtime students that trained under his direction for over 30 years. They said, “The depth of his knowledge and the size of his character made him a true master of Isshin-ryu Karate.”

Master Wheeler explored a connection between martial arts and traditional Chinese medicine. This study discovered ways of helping people with a wide variety of ailments. Master Wheeler encouraged his students to study this area further and find more ways of helping people. Many of his students have developed skills in healing. Some work with cancer patients and help relieve pain and the side effects of chemotherapy. Others work with hospice groups and Church based healing organizations. Many others just help those who they meet in daily life with whatever problem they have. His students tell of how this teaching has changed their lives for the better.

Master Wheeler felt that helping people was far more important than fighting. He would say that when you help someone you can make a friend and that is the best defense of all.

The recognition and awards he received are too numerous to list in total so a few of his accomplishments are:

PhD, in Karate, awarded by the, “College of Yudansha” of the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame, July 9, 1988.

Ju Dan (10th Degree Black Belt) July 8, 1993.

He was awarded, “Headfounder of the Year” in 2000 by the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

He was inducted into the International Karate and Kickboxing Hall of Fame in 1993.

The Hawaii Martial Arts International Society honored Master Allen Wheeler with the “Golden Lifetime Achievement Award.” They also designated the Okinawan Karate Do Union the 2003 “Organization of the Year.”

He was inducted into the International Isshin-ryu Karate Association Hall of Fame 1983.

He received the “Master Shimabuku Award” from the Okinawan Karate Do Union.

Master Wheeler was past president of the International Isshin-ryu Karate Association and the Okinawan Karate Do Union.

Twice Master Wheeler was chosen by his peers as the Instructor of the Year.



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