Harold G. Long was born in Rockwood, Tennessee, on September 3, 1930. He was one of thirteen children, born of Bessie Marie France Long and John Riley Long. His family moved from Rockwood, to Morgan County, in 1934, where he attended elementary school in Petrose, Tennessee. He attended Central High School in Wartburg, Tennessee.
He joined the marine corps in 1949, but was not called to duty until 1950. He was sent to Paris Island, South Carolina where completed his basic training, and then to Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, where he completed advance training.
Shortly thereafter, the North Koreans attacked the South Koreans. He had no idea where Korea was, but found out in a hurry. He was shipped from Camp LeJeune, to Camp Pendleton, California, to bring the 1st Marine Division up to strength.
In 1950, as a young marine in Korea, he fought in the battle of the Chosen Reservoir against the Chinese Army. While temperatures ranged between four degrees below zero to thirty-five degrees below zero, the Chinese Army had orders to annihilate the marines at the Chosen Reservoir. This battle has been termed “the most savage fighting in modern warfare” by today’s historians. The marines who survived this battle became known as the “Chosen Few”. Today, this group is referred to as the “Eternal Band of Brothers”.
In the mid 1950’s, Mr. Long was sent to Okinawa. He inquired of his house girl who the best karate instructor was on Okinawa. She did not hesitate in telling him that in Chun Village there was a teacher by the name of Tatsuo Shimabuku, who had the reputation of being the top instructor of karate on Okinawa. After several visits to Master Shimabuku’s dojo, he was accepted and began training in 1955. He trained for nineteen months, as much as eight hours a day, seven days a week, in some cases.
When Mr. Long returned to the United States, he was stationed at Twenty-Nine Palms, California, where he opened his first dojo in his back yard. After his discharge from the Marine Corps, in July 1959, he returned to East Tennessee, and opened a dojo at the Marine Reserve Building on Alcoa Highway.
In 1963, he attended the systems head meeting of the first World Karate Tournament in Chicago, Illinois, to set-up rules for all American karate tournaments. In attendance were John Kehan, Phil Kepal, Harold Long, George Mattson, Anthony Mirikan, Roy Oshiro, Don Nagle, Ed Parker, Wendall Reeves, Jun Rehe, Mas Tsuroka, and Robert Trias. Rules for kata and kumite were set down at this meeting to be used for all tournaments, regardless of what style held them in the United States. All these rules, with one exception, were proposed by Mr. Long.
In 1974, Mr. Long returned to Okinawa to consult with Grand Master Tatsuo Shimabuku concerning a new karate association.
Listed below are his accomplishments and contributions to Isshin-Ryu Karate.
In December of 1995, Master Long closed his dojo in Knoxville, Tennessee, and retired from active teaching. He moved into the US Navel Retirement Home in Gulfport, Mississippi, in 1996. He made himself available for tournaments, clinics, seminars and special events. In September of 1998, Master Long returned to Knoxville where he was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away on October 12, 1998.