Gary Alexander’s Traditional Karate, Made in the U.S.A. by U.S.M.C.

The Martial Arts have every right to have progressed (which they have) in the same manner as Flight has taken shape

So, with this in mind I will continue to describe my “Traditional” roots which for me go back as far as 45 years ago as I trained Isshinryu Karate primarily in the Marine Corps by and with fellow Marines (many now deceased) that had followed the path of Tatsuoa Shimabuku’s Isshinryu Karate Do.

You see, when I was on active duty in the Marine Corp as part of the Fleet Marine Force stationed in Japan, Okinawa and performing landings (in training) all over the beaches of the Far East, we never had the time and luxury of going into the towns we were stationed at to train in the Martial Arts to any great extent.

But!….. There were those Headquarters Marines that stayed in “Garrison” throughout their tours of duty to take care of the Administration of the FMF. They had access to the towns nightly. Those are the men that got the chance to train up and become expert in particularly the Okinawan Karate systems of the time such as Isshinryu, Shorinryu, Okinawa Goju, plus.

When we came back into the home bases for usually a month or so and then out again on another campaign, we would try to get together with the Marines that were learning and pick up what we could in a short period of time. So, training on the Bases Recreation Gym was all we had for the limited time we were “home”. Karate Ranking wasn’t even a thought in those days. Proficiency was!


Beyond this, while we were in the field (on floats, making landings) whenever we got a reasonable break in our Training duties, we would further exchange techniques with anyone we could find that had some Judo, Karate, Boxing, whatever there was that we could find in our quest to become a more perfect fighting machine which is what U.S. Marines strive for.

While still active in the Marine Corps, the skills I was able to develop were satisfactory for me (at that time) and I felt comfortable with my abilities in Basic Hand to Hand Combat, Weapons use, and methods of dis-arming aggressors.

Fortunately for me, when I was discharged from the Active Marine Corp, I became aware of a gathering of Marines in Jersey City, NJ (my home town) that were there to practice the Martial Arts/Isshinryu Karate with a gentlemen that became very proficient in the

Isshinryu Karate System. This Expert Karate Marine was Don Nagle.

The Marines came to Jersey City from all over the country to train up with this now well known (at least in Marine Corp circles) Karate exponent that arrived back in the U.S. as a 4th Degree Black Belt.

Now this was in the days when most people thought Karate was something you ate(?).

There were Marines with names like Don Bohan, Ed McGrath, Rick Niemira, James Chapman, Lou Lizotte, Ed Alexander (Brother) to name only a few, and of course yours truly Gary Alexander.

This outstanding cadre of Marines with our Corps “Esprit de Corp”, and Discipline very much intact we were going to be the best of the best in the Traditional-Combatant Martial Arts and Fighting World.

Fighter, Pioneer Trainer, U.S. Marine Corps, Korean War HMX-1, Quantico, VA.


The scenario was unlike anything that might be imagined insofar as the level of training, and fighting that we exhibited towards each other, and against any occasional visitors that may have come in to “check out” our activity. All were invited to come in. Most left in worst shape than they arrived and weren’t interested in any further “Guest Passes” for future visits.

1965 Martial Arts Pioneering Brother "Ed Alexander", USMC leading Karate Recruits downbeach on typical U.S.Marine Corps "Gung Ho" Run, GA right rear. Notice Dojo Guidon w/Streamers. SF!

LtoR GA, Drill Instructors, and "Bill Miller" at Camp Pendleton, CA Seminar 2003

I felt that training with my fellow Marine Compatriots gave me everything I needed to know to do what I wanted to do. And that wasn’t to try to find the - True Meaning of Life as I was engulfed in a combat situation with a bunch a bad guys all around me!

The daily injuries running between, broken noses, toes, arms, fingers and accessory organs, gashes, gourges, cuts, purple body parts, visits to the local hospitals, putting meatball sandwiches (of course with “gravy sauce”) on our wounds, and drinking beer to refresh us.

As we trained up, fighting was the main motivation for attendance. However, it was made mandatory (rightfully so) that we also train up in the Traditional side of the Isshinryu System learning Kata/Fighting Forms, Philosophies, Strategies, Tactics, and thus started to matriculate up through the Ranking Systems as qualified.


Throughout a period of years for some, the training took hold, the reputations established, names became known wide spread as the Arts influx started to grow and many of the Marines started to take their leave to go back to their cities throughout America and begin their own dojo’s and train up their own cadre of Isshinryu Warriors.

Consequently, with yours truly Gary Alexander, I remained in the New Jersey, New York area continuing to train and eventually opening my own Dojo’s (School/Training Hall) in Central, NJ.

The rest is history, did a bunch of fighting and would travel to do so winning the very “First Karate Events” in the Western Hemisphere in 1962.

They were the 1st Canadian Mas Tsuruoka Championships in Toronto (Yes! The “First” Canadian Event Champion was this American!), then a week later winning the Mas Oyama North American Championships in Madison Square Garden.

Beyond this, although the matches were full contact, I had lost my taste to fight by Rules with Referee’s (?) that had their own ideas about who they wanted to win. I made my points in those events by laying the losers down in front of them taking away any slants they wanted to embellish. Winner was evident!

From that point in time my fighting that went on for many years, was mostly in Dojo’s as a visitor. Some friendly schools, some very unfriendly schools. But, it was all outstanding fun and action and I was very fortunate as to have “never lost” anywhere, either in Karate matches, or to this day in scenario’s “as I would phrase it” - in the field!

But even though I mentioned previously in this article I had a disdain for the Fighting by Rules, and Referee’s I also felt that I/We should try to do better.

With this in mind I personally started to run the now “First Annual, and Longest running Karate Championships in the U.S.A. The year 1964! Now in the 50th Year Anniversary.

In essence, with 48 years full time background running Martial Arts Events, Karate/Martial Arts Academies, Seminars Worldwide, Fighting, Surviving, and Winning perhaps close to a thousands fights (all contact of course, why else would you fight?) I lay claim to my Traditional up bringing and on-going

Battle Cry as “Made in the U.S.A. by the U.S. Marine Corps”, and my (Gary Alexander) system is now called “Isshinryu Plus Combat Karate“**.

**Plus because of the use of combined Martial Arts I found it necessary to use to stay ahead of my adversaries throughout the many years of fighting. The chant goes Punching, Grabbing, Blocking, Kicking, Throwing, Tripping, Strategy, Psychology. Hit Fast!, Hit Hard!, Hit First!

As mentioned in the opening paragraph’s growth is the mark of the experienced, courageous, the driven to perfection, and those not satisfied with the status quo (Marine types).

Ranging back to the early 1950’s, there is/was no one Classical Martial Art system/style that has all the answers status quo. As of this date anyone that fights (not powder puff derby’s) with these styles understands this and “if Winning”!, has made the right changes to round out his arsenal of weaponry.

My brother "Ed" and I have been out of the Marine Corps for many years. But! The Marine Corps has “never” been out of us!

For the last 50 years, I have used Boot Camp (Drill Instructor) mentality in my schools, in my fighting, and in my dealings. The name of my Fighting Team is “Devil Dogs”. The Marine Corp was the finest education I could have ever received, and it has sparked, contributed to, and enhanced my chosen Way of Life!

Until today, many of my closest Martial Arts Friends and Associates are Active and Former Marines around the world. Obviously, they like what I do, and of course I think they are the greatest Warriors in any environment on the mat, or in the field.

And, I am a Lucky Guy! I have received presents from Marines individually and collectively ranging from Flight Leathers Jacket, Cammies, Gold Plated Weapons, Recon Pins, Jewelry, Shirts, Jackets, Caps, Flight Teddy Bears to sit in my right seat when I fly my planes, Base Flags, Plaques, Cups, Watches, Sweat Suits, to the point whereas everything I own has a Ball and Anchor (Marine Emblem for the un-initiated)

on it. No! No skivvies! Yet!!!

A Special Note: (Perhaps some lessons)

As a Youngster through Adolescence I was “Bedridden” sometimes for a years at a time, with a Heart Condition and Rheumatic Fever, not being able to participate in School Gym, Sports, or other Physical Activities.

As I advanced in age, tired of being sidelined, and following a lead set by my brother, at age 17, I also decided to go down to my friendly Marine Recruiter and in my Junior year, talk my way in to the “U.S. Marine Reserves” until I was graduated from High School.

After Graduating High School, I went Regular USMC, 6 years between Active/Reserve. And that move made a profound impact on my adult personae and that impact became reinforced and utilized as I became aware of the Martial Arts in years following.

These factors of Sickness, No Sports activity, and then acceptance by the worlds No.1 fighting force were probably causal towards the life long impact and respect I have carried through life and implanted (USMC) into my Martial Arts Systems and Delivery of those Systems to this day.

The two psychologies of U.S. Marine and Martial Artists were perfectly complimentary to each other. And I have built my Systems/Operations through these years on the Heritage/Precepts/and Disciplines embraced by both of these Ways of the Warrior.

In closing, I want to congratulate the U.S. Marines for adopting their USMC Black Belt Programs that started under the auspices of General James Jones, then Commandant U.S.M.C. and these Programs are continuing strongly as of this date.

Again! Gary Alexander - “Made in the U.S.A. by the U.S. Marine Corps”

God Bless our Fighting Forces in all branches of the Military, and Law

Semper Fi!

Gary Alexander, 10th Dan


Shihan Alexanders Combat Karate NOTE:

I have recently had the distinct pleasure of speaking with my USMC Boot Camp Drill Instructor of 1956, Platoon 345, Parris Island, SC. Captain Don Raub, Ret. (Then Tech Sgt. Senior Drill Instructor). This is the first contact I have had with Captain Raub since those days of 1956. The Captain has had an illustrious 30 year career in the Marine Corps, “Mustang’d through the Enlisted to Officer Ranks seeing service from World War II, Korea, Viet Nam. He is still a healthy and vigorous Marine. It was a great conversation and there will be a personal gathering in the near future.  

                          Expert Quotes from Marines-Plus

”RECENTLY: Quoted Robin Barratts Tough Talk Magazine (UK) March, 2013 First Edition ....“Gary Alexander, A former US Marine and with well over 50 years experience and 10th Dan in many styles,  ..... Gary is One of the Most Advanced Martial Artists and Close Quarter Combat Specialists in the World

Mr. Alexander, you are a Special Subject Matter Expert (Hand to Hand Combat) to say the least” Quoted: General James Jones, Commandant, U.S.M.C.

“Alexander has developed one of the most respected Defense methods of the era” Quoted: Bob Young, Editor, Black Belt Magazine

“To Gary Alexander, a proven warrior” Quoted: Col. John Alexander, 30 years Special Forces/Ops, Cousin.

"Gary Alexander was the Greatest Fighter in the history of Isshinryu Karate" Quoted: Harold Long, U.S.M.C., 10th Dan, 1998, I.A.M.A., H.O.F.

"Isshinryu Karate needs another Gary Alexander" Quoted: Don Nagle, U.S.M.C., 10th Dan, 1999, I.A.M.A., H.O.F.

“Alexander was regarded as the best bare knuckle fighter in the country, and is still an incredible powerful force in Karate” Quoted: Al Weiss, Publisher Official Karate Magazine

"I have personally watched Gary Alexander develop the most awesome retaliatory system in Karate” Quoted:  U.S.M.C., 10th Dan, 1994, I.A.M.A., H.O.F.

"Alexander is Isshinryu’s Fighter", Quoted: Don Bohan, U.S.M.C., 9th Dan, 1989, LA.M.A., H.O.F.

"Gary Alexander you are the last of a dying breed of true Karate-ka" Quoted: Larry Isaac, U.S.M.C. 9th Dan, 1990, I.A.M.A., H.O.F.

“To Gary, A Great Fighter, Teacher, and Friend” Quoted: Joe Lewis, U.S.M.C., World Champion

I just showed the students I teach here in "Afghanistan" your Videos, they were amazed on how you move. And I told them that this is reality fighting. And he is also a Marine and we are all built tough! Semper Fi! Quoted: Leon Wright, Shihan, Gy/Sgt. USMC Ret. Khanduhar, Afghanistan 9/04

"Not only was I present at ringside when Gary Alexander kicked butt in 1962 Madison Square Garden winning the First Real Open Blood and Guts Championship, but I am proud to say we all can rest easy with my brother Marine guarding our country, and teaching our fighting men and women. Semper Fi! Quoted: Rick Lenchus USMC 1957-forever, 10th Dan Founder of Legend Martial Arts"