History of the Nashville Dojo

The Karate School of Nashville was founded by Master Denny Shaffer (currently Ku Dan in Isshinryu) in 1966. From its inception, the Karate School of Nashville’s martial philosophy has been to use whatever works in combat and tournament competition.

The school was originally a Kung Fu school. After Master Shaffer’s instructor left Nashville, he sought the best resources he could find including Bruce Lee. Master Shaffer’s search for a Sensei ended when he met Master Harold Long, an Isshinryu legend. Master Shaffer studied under Master Long and the school became an Isshinryu school.

In the 1970’s, Master Shaffer left to pursue lucrative job options and turned the school over to Master Phil McElroy (currently Ku Dan in Isshinryu) who received the first black belt awarded by Master Shaffer. Masters Shaffer and McElroy guided the dojo until the late 1980’s when Master Bob (Butch) Hill (currently Ku Dan in Isshinryu and Yo Dan in Goshin Jujitsu) began directing the school.

In 2003, Master Hill decided to retire to advisory status and turned the responsibility of the dojo over to Master Roy Vaughan (currently Shichi Dan in Isshinryu), Master Trice Fasig (currently Shichi Dan in Isshinryu and Ni Dan in Goshin Jujitsu) and Master Jeff Sanders (currently Roku Dan in Isshinryu). On January 1st, 2010, Master Hill, Master Roy Vaughan, Master Trice Fasig, and Master Jeff Sanders turned responsibility of the Dojo to Mr. Darren Reed (currently Roku Dan in Isshinryu).

Sensei Darren Reed turned the dojo over to the current head instructor, John Viall, in 2017. Many of our members have been inducted into the Isshinryu Hall of Fame: Masters Denny Shaffer, Phil McElroy, Jim McDonald, Butch Hill, David Gabbard, Kelly Markham, and Sandra Strong. The Karate School of Nashville is also known as the Nashville Dojo, a name bestowed to us by Master Long.