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Tribute to my friend. In the blink of a eye time passed us by.

Until we meet again, wait for me my friend. - AJ

 

A star returns into Heaven

We have not lost a friend or sensei, we have gained another star. Each night stars burn out while others are reborn. Look to the evening sky. See the bright twinkling star. Who do you think is winking? You can not kill a spirit, for spirits never die. A.J. Advincula

 

When we were in Iowa this year Sensei Harrill took me down to the
water and gave me a little picture to his heart.
I stood in amazement with Donovan as we watched him call this
beautiful breath taking swan across the water. We video taped this
baby coming across the water to meet him. He stood on the dock and
fed this dear creature and it was fun to see the heart of the man in
a way different from that on the dojo floor. Yet was it really
different?
His compassion and love for that animal put it at complete ease...
trust is what it felt. He explained that the mate to that bird was
killed a few years previous and that there will never be any swans
born from their lineage. They have one mate for life he said. But
that swan trusted him and because of him trusted us. I was able to
feed that dear little bird and she was so gentle.

Here is my comparrison. ( Ya ready! lol)

His compassion and love has put many people at ease on and off the
dojo floor. His insight to a person amazed me so many times just in
the contact I had with him. I have read and heard of various ways
that this man was able to go past insecurities and instill
confidence. As the swan only had one mate... for some they will have
only one Sensei. For those of you that had the privledge of having
Sensei Harrill as your full time Sensei... you are like the swan.
The swan continues on...even though the mate is gone. The swan
trusts those worthy of that trust...even though the mate is gone.
For each of you ... I extend my heart that you train hard... trust
and learn and grown. AS the swan's mate would wish for it to live
and carry on.... so I am sure in my heart that Sherm would wish that
you live on... grow in beauty and strength as the swan has.

He had no idea when we were feeding that swan that I would use that
time as a parralell to his passing. But for me seeing the swan put
comfort in my heart today. I hope it does for you too.

I posted the picture of Sherm's swan in the photo section.

Take a look at the Swan...see the beauty he saw in it...and in each
of you he loved and trained.

Hugs...with tears and sadness.

Jackie Gartner


Left to right: Charlie Connors (Deceased), John DeSantis, Sherman Harrill (Deceased), and Gary Baker (Deceased), all members of the Agena, Okinawa Isshin-ryu Honbu Dojo, 1959-1960

 

Sherman Harrill was born in May 11th 1941, Lebanon Missouri. He enlisted into
the United States Marine Corps and in 1959 and was assigned duty to Okinawa.
He was stationed at Camp Courtney near the village of Tengan. He started in
Isshin-ryu from Master Tatsuo Shimabuku who was teaching in Agena located in
Gushikawa. Shimabuku called Harrill "Harru." Harru often tells others that
he was not the best American training in the Agena dojo at the time but Sherm
was not always right.

He stated that when he left Okinawa he was entrusted with the rank of Rokudan
to wear at a appropriate time. Tatsuo gave a rank certificate's to all
Americans at the end of their tour of duty. All were given a silk certificate
with the rank of Rokudan (Sixth dan) but were told to wear it many years down
the line. All were entrusted to wear Shodan and then to wear the next ranks
as the appropriate set of years. The majority came back claiming Rokudan as
soon as they returned but Sherman waited the appropriate time designated by
Tatsuo. This tells the caliber of a man and while he says he was never the
best in the dojo on Okinawa for sure he had integrity. This tells the story
of the man. A story of a man who gave his all when he taught Isshin-ryu.

A few years ago when one of his Agena dojo mates, Don Bohan had cancer, Sherm
held a seminar to raise funds for him. Yes this is a unselfish man. A man
hard as rocks with a heart of gold.

His loved ones, friends and students will miss him but as we all know,
spirits never die.

On November 4, at 10 AM Central time, the year 2002, Marine Sherman Harrill
"the Sherminator" was called to duty, to guard the Heavenly Gates.
He will report to Tatsuo, and begin training in his beloved Isshin-ryu. He
will meet his daughters and other members of his family and friends.

No you can not kill a spirit, for spirits never die. Kanpai my friend, until
I relieve you at your post, the Pearly Gates of Heaven. Semper Fi, AJA


The Isshinkai Enbukai held this October in Oceanside had five first
generation students of Tatsuo present. Peter Romer, Robert Safreed, Bill
Steiger, Walter Van Gilson and Jim Advincula were all in attendance. Sherman Harrill was supposed to
attend but had to postpone because of his illness. He sent a message with his
student John Kerker saying that he was with us in spirit. An empty chair was
left for him. We know he was in it.

Tsuyoshi Uechi of the Okinawa Rengokai and Kensei Fukuhara were guests at
this event. Sherm said that he wanted to be here with us.

He was.

AJ Advincula

 


 

I started this post about 6 separate times, but the words have failed me
until now. I have struggled to think of a way to express my profound sadness
at the loss of Sensei Harrill, in a way that is not offensive to those who
knew him longer and were much closer to him than I. Truly I mourn for their
loss. When I met Sensei 2 years ago I was at a low point in my martial arts
life I was fed up with all the politics and was at a place where I wasn't
sure what more I could learn boy did he ever change all that! I remember
the first seminar I went to my head hurt for days from trying to digest all
the information he gave me. While this is not an uncommon reaction to one of
his seminars, it should be noted that this was a 2 hour "mini" seminar that
he did for the Isshinryu Hall of Fame. That was it I was hooked!
 
I will never forget going out to visit his dojo in Carson. I will never
forget the sight of him walking down the street toward the dojo with a big
smile on his face. He seemed more at ease in the dojo than anyone I have ever
met. He taught me so many thingsand I'm not just talking about karate!  He
had the warmest, kindest heart of anyone I have ever known. I remember going
to the quarry and feeding the trumpeter swan you really saw what a gentle
loving man he really was. The loving way that he would pat a child on the
head told me volumes about the man. He taught me a lot about humility and
respect he treated everyone like they mattered deeply to him. I think that
some high ranking dans were shocked by the kindness and deferential treatment
he would give to a brand new white belt as well as the most seasoned veteran.
 
I will never complain about pain again ­ when I was in Carson Sensei's back,
neck and hip were bothering him badly. He had to take breaks, but would never
stay seated for long. There were times when he was visibly in pain, but he
would not stop and he would not slow down. By the end of the day he was
clearly fatigued he was experiencing chest pain, but he insisted on going
through all the empty hand katas for me. He wanted me to see how the katas
should be done not in an arrogant way but in a way that was dutiful to me
as a student and to Shimabuku's memory.
 
While I was there I got to take meet Sensei's wife. I was fortunate enough to
be able to take Sensei and Mrs. Harrill out to dinner, what a wonderful woman
she is!
 
I spoke with Sensei in August and he told me that he was training hard to
prepare for the Enbukai event. He spoke of the events importance to Isshinryu
and his duty to represent his Sensei properly.  His words were prophetic:
"Frank, I'm just going to keep doing what I love: teaching and practicing
karate. I am going to keep doing my best to represent Isshinryu and my Sensei
to the best of my ability til the day I die."  He sure did that didn't he!
 
They say a measure of a man's life is the friends he leaves behind. If this
is true Sensei was a mighty, mighty man! The people I have met through him,
are among the finest people that I have ever had cause to know! There are a
few people that pass through your life and leave a real mark on you forever ­
Sensei was one of those people. I told Sensei that I would practice what he
taught me. I gave him my word that I would make him proud of me some day. I
will not let you down Sensei!  Sensei you were loved and you will be missed!  
Respectfully,

Frank Geric

Okinawa Budo Kai Tribute (broaken link)