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2024 Circle of Masters

Our Story

For the past 18 years the United States Isshinryu Karate Association has hosted an event called the Circle of Masters. This event has had several formats, but it has always included Presenters of the highest quality. 2024 will not disappoint!

2024 Presenters

Darron Whitehead  2024   IMG_6910.jpg

Sergeant Whitehead retired from the Maryland State Police in 2010, which then provided ample time to pursue his martial arts training – returning to his once-nemesis – Master Barry Smith. He trained with his loyal friend until Master Smith’s passing in 2019. Sensei Smith had taken his 50 years of Isshinryu training, combined it with 25 years in law enforcement, numerous street encounters, and developed a style of survival. It was mean – brutal - full of many tricks and deceit – and was downright nasty. Carrying on Master Smith’s tradition, Darron routinely trains defensive tactics to police academy cadets. He is also a certified Krav Maga instructor.


In his retirement, Darron has pursued his lifelong passions of entrepreneurialism and giving back to the community. He currently owns his own real estate firm, property management company, rental properties, and serves on numerous boards such as the Police Review Board, Emmanuel Weslyn Church Board, and Hebron Bank Board.

Darron Whitehead


Sensei Darron Whitehead is a 6th degree black-belt in Isshinryu and a 6th degree black-belt in Kenshido (The Humble Person’s Way), a style he founded by combining techniques from all of the styles he has studied throughout his 35 years in the martial arts. Darron founded the Salisbury School of Martial Arts, and actively serves as its primary instructor. He has also enlisted his sons to expose the class to Jiu-Jitsu training one class per month.

Sensei Whitehead began his martial arts training in Shorinji Kempo, where he earned a 2nd degree black-belt prior to pausing his training to attend the Maryland State Police Academy. While in the academy, Sensei Whitehead’s training took a turn – as his Defensive Tactics (DT) instructor was Master Barry Smith, a 9th degree Isshinryu black-belt under Master Toby Cooling. After becoming a trooper, Darron returned to his hometown. Having been inspired by his nemesis DT instructor, Darron pursued Isshinryu, and earned his black-belt in 1991.


Coming from a rural area, “everyone knew everyone,” especially in the police and martial arts worlds. It was during this time that Darron connected with Hal Chernoff, a professional boxing coach. Hal lead Darron through several amateur boxing matches. Through his amateur boxing fights, Darron connected with 3-time World Kickboxing Champion,
Roni Lewis out of Baltimore. Darron spent several years diligently training kickboxing with Roni, until ultimately Roni retired.



Ronnie Cimorosi

Started Isshinryu Karate training in 1984, His father, Ronnie

Cimorosi Sr. had been a student of Seibukan Shorin-ryu in the late 1960s and suggested that he train under Toby Cooling. After receiving his sho-dan in 1989, he continued to train almost daily with instructors such as Master Toby Cooling, and Sensei’s Juan López, Larry Jackson, Danny Cross, and Barry Smith. It was not uncommon

for him to travel 2 hours one-way for the opportunity to learn under these teachers.

Opened his first Dojo in 1990 in Elkton, MD (still in operation
today).During this time, he spent most of his time running the dojo

and competing in tournaments and shiais throughout the

Northeastern US. He was a member of the Order of Isshinryu

demonstration team which performed demonstrations to support and promote the Order of Isshinryu. Hanshi Cimorosi has performed

and promoted Isshinryu throughout the MD/DE/PA/NJ area well as

Neveda, Michigan, and in Florida. Additionally, outside the country in Italy (San-Marino) Australia (Ashcroft), and Puerto Rico.

For over ten years Hanshi Cimorosi taught self-defense classes at

the Cecil County Battered Women’s Shelter, the Cecil County Rape Prevention Center, Cecil County School district, several major corporations in Maryland and Delaware, as well as Cecil County School District.

Hanshi Cimorosi left the Order of Isshinryu in 2023, he still promotes and teaches Isshinryu at the Elkton Dojo Isshinryu Kazoku (family) with the same Warrior Codes, Ethics and Morals that were passed down to him by his Sensei Grand Master Toby Cooling.


When not in the Dojo, Hanshi enjoys spending time with his family and riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle.

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In 1994, Sensei Cimorosi received the IHOF Instructor of the Year award.


In 2014 He was Inducted into the IHOF.

In 2017 He was Awarded Sensei of the Year AOKA.

In 2017 He earned Sho-Dan in Matayoshi Kobudo under the guidance of Kimo Wall, Luis Cuadrado, Jesus Jimenez.


In 2017, He Presented at the Day of the Masters in  / Lifetime Member of American Isshinryu

In 2018 He was Promoted to Hachi-Dan under GM Toby Cooling Oct. 2018


A KuDan Certificate was pre-signed by Grandmaster Walter“Toby” Cooling on December 1 st 2017 and presented after the death of GM Toby Cooling in 2023 per his wishes.


From 1995-2023, he served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Order of Isshin-Ryu, including the positions of President and Vice-President.


Notable Awards:
*1974 Isshinryu Junior Championships held at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum.
*1975 IIKA Junior Advanced Free fighting Champion.
1980 IHOF Karate Ka of the Year: (First IHOF Karate Ka of the Year).
*1981 IIKA Championships Grand Champion.
*1982 IHOF Tournament Grand Champion.
*1988 OKU Outstanding Achievement Award (with his wife Ruth Ann).
*1990 OKU Outstanding Achievement Award (with Ruth Ann).

*1990 Included as a member of the United States Sport Jujitsu Team.
*1990 Silver & Bronze medal – World Sport Jujitsu Championships.
*1990 Tennessee Karate Circuit – Overall Grand Champion – Kata, Kumite Champ;
*1991 Inducted into World Martial Arts Hall of Fame – Male Fighter of the

*1994 OKU Master Shimabuku Award (with Ruth Ann).
*1998 Appointed President of the Okinawan Karate Do Union (OKU).
*1999 National A.A.U. Kumite Champion (30 – 39 yr. old male).
*2005 Inducted into the Isshinryu Hall of Fame (IHOF).
*2010 IIKA Legacy Circle of Honor.
*2015 Appointed President of the Isshinryu Hall of Fame (IHOF).
*2016 Inducted (with Ruth Ann) into the Traditional Okinawan Karate Association Hall of Fame (TOKA).
*2023 Appointed President of the International Isshinryu Karate Association (IIKA).

Scott Shamblin

Master Scott Shamblin Ku-dan (9th degree black belt) began his training in Isshinryu karate on November 17, 1973, under the instruction of Master J.C. Burris in Athens, Tennessee. His study continued with Master Angi Uezu, first in 1987 in Fredericksburg, Virginia, then in 1993 as Mr. Shamblin traveled to and trained in Okinawa, and again in 1994 in Cleveland, TN.


Mr. Shamblin was also a long-time student of the late Allen Wheeler of Powell, TN and was named by Master Wheeler, before his passing, as his successor. In competition he was the first person at the Isshinryu Hall of Fame Tournament to ever win first place in Weapons, Kata, and Kumite as well as Grand Champion in Kata, Weapons and Kumite.


Mr. Shamblin was the youngest black belt to win the Kata Grand Championship at the Battle of Nashville. He was the overall champion in weapons, Kata, and Kumite for the Tennessee Karate Circuit in 1990. At the 1999 A.A.U. Nationals, he received the bronze medal for Kata, silver for weapons, and brought home the gold for fighting. He was undefeated in fighting in 1999 at the state, regional, and national levels.


Outside the competitive arena, Mr. Shamblin and wife Ruth Ann had the honor of participating in the Isshinryu Karate demonstration, lead by Master Angi Uezu, during the Restoration Festival of Shuri Castle in Shuri, Okinawa.


Mr. and Mrs. Shamblin taught the Cleveland State Karate Program (credit and non-credit classes) and owned and operated Shamblins’ School of Karate in Cleveland, TN from 1990 to 2009. During that time, they hosted the Cleveland Karate Challenge open tournament for several years.


As an instructor, Mr. Shamblin believes in strong Isshinryu basics and practical applications of kata movements. His other studies have included ToriteJitsu, Sport Jujitsu, Tae Kwon Do, and Tai Chi Chuan. Shamblin believes in being a student of the martial arts and studying them in depth to help with his understanding of Isshinryu, but never to replace it. It is his firm belief that Isshinryu Karate is a complete system of self-defense, and that if you truly understand it, you do not have to embellish it.


Shamblin currently serves as President of the International Isshinryu Karate Association (IIKA), secretary/treasurer for the Traditional Okinawan Karate Association (TOKA), and President of the Isshinryu Hall of Fame (IHOF). He also served as past President of the Okinawan Karate-do Union (OKU). To earn his rank, Mr. Shamblin provides lessons to advanced students, instructors, and dojo owners. He serves as advisor to the Bryan College Martial Arts Academy (BCMAA) karate program in Dayton, TN and teaches the Kobudo Instructor Certification courses for the IIKA.


Mr. Shamblin lives in Ocoee, Tennessee with his wife Ruth Ann (8th degree black belt).

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