Back to the Heroes

 Master Reese Rigby, Isshin-Ryu Karate-Do


 Master Reese Rigby


Name: Reese Rigby


Place of birth: Dover, Delaware


Occupation:   Karate school owner & chief instructor


Occupation:   Karate school owner & chief instructor


Martial arts experience: 45 years


Teaching experience: 41 years


Ranks:  Ku Dan  Isshin-Ryu Karate-Do


Training background:   Isshin-Ryu Karate-Do / Tai Chi Chuan


Other Interest - San Shou which is a two person dance.






(Reese Rigby)


Biography – Master Reese Rigby


Sensei Reese Rigby started his karate training in 1969 under Sensei Doug Hastings in Dover, Delaware.  After two years, he traveled to Salisbury, Maryland, and trained under Master Tom Lewis, where he earned his Black Belt in 1971.  Sensei Rigby opened his own karate school in Dover in 1973 with 16 students.  He named his first school “Dover Isshin-Ryu Karate Club”.  He was a very successful competitor in the Delmarva tournament circuit in the 1970s and 1980s.


In 1986, Sensei Rigby met and started training with Grandmaster Angi Uezu.  He traveled to Okinawa in 1992, 1995 and 2005 to train with Grandmaster Uezu, and Grandmaster Uezu has visited Rigby’s dojo and home numerous times during his annual U.S. Tours. In 1996, Grandmaster Uezu appointed Sensei Rigby as co-Vice President of the OIKKA along with Master John Devine.  In 2002, Grandmaster Uezu promoted Rigby to Kyoshi Hachi Dan (8th degree) Black Belt.


In 1994, Rigby started teaching Isshin-Ryu fulltime, and currently has an enrollment of approximately 375 students.


In addition to his extensive accomplishments in Isshin-Ryu Karate, Sensei Rigby’s background includes a Delaware High School State Wrestling Championship title and placing in several drug free bodybuilding championships.


Sensei Rigby has sponsored numerous Isshin-Ryu Karate tournaments, and currently sponsors an annual OIKKA tournament with Master John Devine, sending ½ of the proceeds to Grandmaster Angi Uezu in Okinawa.


Master Rigby continues to teach 6 days per week, from beginner classes to his most advanced students; from children to adults.  Rigby also choreographs and teaches cardio-kickboxing classes and resistance band classes for weight training.


For the last 12 years, Master Rigby has also been practicing the Chinese art of Tai Chi Chuan, which is an ancient martial art often referred to as ”slow motion  meditation”.   Tai Chi Chuan is an ancient, slow motion exercise for health, self defense, mental accomplishment and spiritual development. He has been teaching Tai Chi at his Academy for 10 years.  Master Rigby and his wife Judy have learned and teach the Yang style long form, numerous tai chi weapons forms, including the saber or broadsword, the double edged sword and the fan.  They have also learned the San Shou which is a two person dance.


Master Rigby was a member of Grandmaster Tatsuo Shimabuku’s organization – the AOKA – American Okinawan Karate Association.


As a result of Sensei Rigby’s dedication to Isshin-Ryu and his high level of achievement in the art of Isshin-Ryu, he has been inducted into the OIKKA Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Isshin-Ryu Hall of Fame in 2005.



(Isshin-Ryu Hall of Fame in 2005)


Sensei Reese Rigby’s lifelong goal has been to live and teach the art of Isshin-Ryu Karate-Do.  He has now been teaching for 41 years, and I think he has accomplished his goal and then some!