This page will serve as a repository of most recent information and pictures. Most of what is contained here eventually will be incorporated
into future U.S. Chito-kai history pages.
A GREAT KARATE MAN
OCTOBER 2019 NATIONAL SEMINAR
by Don Schmidt, Renshi
Perhaps you are thinking that the title A GREAT KARATE MAN pertains to Tsuyoshi Chitose because we celebrate his birthday during our October
seminar. Or maybe you are thinking that I am referring to a great karate man named William J. Dometrich. Not this time! I am referring to
a great karate man named Lawrence C. Hawkins Jr, Esquire.
Kyoshi Hawkins has earned status and proved that he is a quintessential martial artist. On October 19, about an hour into our seminar, Kyoshi
Hawkins made an appearance to our training facility. As he entered the training area Kyoshi Sherry Kembre called a stop to the training and
about 60 karateka turned and gave him a most deserving welcoming bow. As we straightened, he stood before us a shell of a man he once was before
being stricken with his hideous disease, but there he was larger than life visiting USCK karateka doing what he cherished during his adult life.
Applause erupted and continued for minutes. Karateka welled up and tears flowed. An awesome moment for me as I reflected on how Kyoshi Hawkins
gave me advice and instruction over the years.
We returned to training as this great karate man watched members of the USCK and some visiting karate friends continue
our training. One is referred to as a great karate man not because of his excellent karate technique, which he had, but mostly because of his
character. In martial arts, one's character is defined by several virtues; loyalty, courage, honor and humility are just few of these
virtues and the virtues I am going to relate to Kyoshi Hawkins. His loyalty to his teacher William Dometrich, his wife Okusan, and the United
States Chito Kai has been exemplary and beyond reproach. Through thick and thin he has remained loyal to his karate teacher and the founders of
the USCK. Kyoshi Hawkins' courage reminds me of a story he told me about how a young "Negro" in 1962 wanted to start taking
martial arts and he wanted to train at Hanshi Dometrich's dojo "south" of his domicile in Ohio. He was concerned about crossing
the Ohio River and going into Kentucky for karate instruction. (Hanshi Dometrich wrote about this incident in his book which fortunately caused
some bigots to leave his dojo). Kyoshi Hawkins' honor is evident by his endless commitment to the USCK to assure its viability. He never
bragged about his life successes or his stature with the USCK. In short, he has provided us with another role model for being not just a good
karate person, but how to have good character.
Kyoshi Hawkins' disease shortened his stay with us during our training. However, he was unable to exit without
fanfare. Meiyo Hanshi Dometrich had planned to promote Kyoshi Hawkins' son during the banquet when promotions are customarily done.
Meiyo Hanshi Dometrich and Kyoshi Kembre discussed the matter and just before his departure, we grouped together for our group picture. After
numerous shutter snaps, Meiyo Hanshi Dometrich called forward Kyoshi Hawkins and his son and then announced she was doing something
"unprecedented in the USCK history". She gave Kyoshi Hawkins a certificate to present to his son Lawrence. Shihan Lawrence Hawkins
was promoted to Rokudan. PRICELESS!! Eyes welled again, tears flowed as father and son embraced, and applause filled the room. What followed
was a long pause in the training as congratulations was passed along to Shihan Hawkins and time was spent taking individual/group photographs
with Kyoshi Hawkins. An awesome several moments elapsed. I hope you "seized the moment" and at least got to shake his hand. Kyoshi
Hawkins left the training area after receiving a bow from all present and then thunderous applause filled the room as this great karate man
stood before us for several minutes; perhaps for the last time. Tears were flowing as the "great karate man" departed into the
After all this emotion, I wondered how we were going to get back to training. We regrouped into our training sections and gi began snapping
with loud kiai. We trained as hard as we could much to the liking of the great karate men that we were honoring on this day. Kyoshi Kembre
lead the kyu ranks through kata while I led the black belts through advanced kata. Renshi Ford taught the group proper execution of mawashi
geri and ushiro giri. Shihan Paul Knecht and Shihan Lawrence Hawkins taught Hen Shu Ho to upper ranks while Sensei Matt Cowherd taught Kihon
No Empi to lower ranks. Shihan Bill Jansak taught Ni Sei Shi kata and the related kaisetz. The training also allowed the entire group going
to the DNBK event in Japan in 2020 time to practice their demonstration.
A wonderful banquet followed the training. Renshi Ford gave a speech on "seize the moment". Shihan Jesse Brown gave a speech about
how he came about meeting Hanshi Dometrich and how the USCK emphasized good, solid basics. Award presentations followed dinner, speeches and
entertainment. Shihan Terry Collis received a Life Achievement Award for his 55+ years training in Chito-Ryu and Shotokan karate.
Inspirational Award were given to three individuals who recently suffered medical issues, but did not miss a beat: Renshi Gerald Meade
(medical issues known and unknown to medicine), Renshi John Wellbrock (stroke), and Renshi Wes Ernest (lung cancer). Loyalty Award was
presented to Richard Rike for his return to the USCK. Dedication Award was presented to Renshi Ford for his "behind the scenes"
activities and support for the USCK. Student Tommy Talbert received a Perseverance Award because of his physical limitations and desire to
train. Promotional certificates were presented to those present who passed their rank tests in 2018. Shihan Brown was presented with a rank
promotion to rokudan. Renshi Tony DiTerlizzi entertained us with his year in review highlights which is posted on our web site. Another
well-planned banquet organized by Meiyo Hanshi Dometrich and attended by about 80 hungry people.
The prelude to the weekend of festivities occurred on Friday night October 18, when the National Test Board convened. The test board consisted
of Kyoshi Sherry Kembre, Kyoshi Jerry Beshears, Renshi John Wellbrock, Shihan Jesse Brown, and Shihan Bill Jansak. The test committee included
Renshi Don Schmidt, Sensei Bill DiGrezzio, and Sensei Matt Cowherd. Shihan Shawna Lingo was the Secretary. After the dust settled in the
hombu, test candidates from Yoseikan Crozet Sophia Carrazana, Tim Griffith, John Kowalzik, and Gus Hankle earned the rank of ik kyu. Bailey
Spicer, Yoseikan hombu, Mark Moser, Yoseikan Anderson, and David Hill, Yoseikan West Virginia earned the rank of ik kyu. Guy Kaiser, Yoseikan
Anderson, and Shawn Brown, Yoseikan hombu, earned the rank of nidan. Kim "Gidget" Suer, Yoseikan hombu, earned the rank of shodan.
The Board of Directors met on Saturday morning and discussed the status of the USCK. Pursuant to the Safe Sport Act, the USCK is taking a
proactive approach to assure that minors continue to train in an atmosphere free of sexual harassment and abuse. Therefore, annual training
was provided to those Shihans and dojo heads in attendance at the Board of Directors' meeting.
Thanks to all who enjoyed this wonderful and memorable National Seminar.
A REQUIEM FOR HANSHI WILLIAM J. DOMETRICH
A speech given at the National Banquet by Jesse Brown Jr., Min.D, Shihan
Let me start with a quote
"It' s not how long you live, but how well. And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life
in your years."
There is not a truer example of this than in the life of our former Chief Instructor Hanshi William Dometrich. This was his legacy. He loved
his students, his friends, his family and all that he did in his life.
"It's not how long you live, but how well. And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count, but it is the life
in your years."
L to R: James Merolillo, Masami Tsuruoka
When I began my karate training in Chito-ryu in 1971, I began under the instructor
Sensei James Merolillo.
At that time, the school was affiliated with the
Canadian Chito-ryu, North American Karate Associated,
under the supervision of Chief Instructor
Sensei Masami Tsuruoka.
My body today can still remember the days of strict and brutal training. Sensei Merolillo's training method and teaching style was very
regimented and disciplined. He was likened or compared to by many of his students as the Mike Ditka of karate. He demanded much out of his
students during training and when you did not drown yourself in sweat.
-Tears criss-crossing down your face!
-And your body crying from pain!
It was then you had to do push-ups, sit-ups, and leg squats for the remainder of the training hour.
Conversely, when we got off the training deck, Sensei Merolillo exhibited the human side of his character and was a very soft spoken and
generous man. He was a man who cared about his students. He gave his undivided time during training and much attention to his craft.
He had knowledge and wisdom for everyone who asked for it and likewise, for those who didn't ask, but needed it. However, it was a sad
and dreary day when Sensei Merolillo died in 1973. Many of his students not only felt amputated, perplexed, and uncertain if we were to ever
resume our training in Chito-ryu, but we were in sorrow because we lost our instructor, we lost a true and dear friend.
It was in that same year 1973, when a few of us decided to travel to Covington, Kentucky, to find what was missing in our lives as karate
students. We were looking for someone who we felt could demand the best out of us.
-Who could share his knowledge with us!
-And who could be a friend to us!
We were determined to continue our training in Chito-ryu. We never contemplated joining another school or another style, where instructions
were far less demanding, the atmosphere more socializing, and the school more commercially driven and not affiliated with a national
organization. We wanted a school where quality predominated, the atmosphere stern and structured, and an instructor who personified the
spirit and teaching of Sensei Merolillo and we found just the school and we found just the man.
When we were introduced to Hanshi Dometrich, we discovered a genuine and sincere person who welcomed us into the federation. The first time
we performed for him our techniques and kata, I remember him clearly saying,
"We got some work to do!"
I knew then it was going to be hard times again. Nevertheless, we felt welcomed, we felt accepted, the right hand of fellowship was extended
and we knew that we had found what we came looking for.
We felt renewed and energized, a spark of hope was ignited and we felt confident and reassured that we came to the right place, to the right
school, and to the right person, who would bring us up to a standard and proficiency required for our ranks.
Now 46 years later, we met the standard, we gained the proficiency, and we acquired the rank only because Hanshi Dometrich was a dynamic
teacher, inspirational leader, and a role model for me and for all of us assembled and for that cause we say
How well do we remember Hanshi's talks after class, the visits to our dojos, the winter and summer trainings. Hanshi built among us a
very strong camaraderie that few schools and organizations can compete with.
Hanshi had our hearts.
-He groomed our character!
-He opened our minds!
-He accepted our humanity!
-And he led our spirit!
Hanshi Dometrich forged with the anvil of hard training inspiring black belts (yudansha) and each one of them could offer a different
perspective on teaching kihon – kata- and kumite! Their diversity gave much richness to our learning and training; nevertheless, they were
all molded together by one common thread - Hanshi Dometrich. He was the voice of wisdom, our compass for direction, and perpetuated an
unparalleled standard of excellence in the practice of Chito-ryu karate-do, where respect was first and foremost and strong basics was
During national testing, there was no escaping Hanshi's critical eye watching your every move. If your basic kihon, kata, and kumite
were not up to par, you would hear,
"Have a seat!"
the one thing in which Hanshi was unaltered was his belief that good basics are essential.
I am thankful to have known Hanshi not only as a tough demanding instructor, who demanded the very best out of us, but also as a very humble
and down to earth man. He taught us what he learned and shared with us what he knew. His karate life was an open book for all to read. He
was a man of integrity who continued to improve his own knowledge of karate for the improvement of himself, but more essentially for the
improvement of his students.
48 years of karate training, (48 years of blood, sweat, and tears) has taught me the philosophy of understanding that karate-do is the harmony
of the mind and body, which seeks self-perfection over self-protection, self-improvement over self-importance, and to develop self-determination
Hanshi Dometrich shared his life.
-He shared his experiences!
-He shared his stories!
-He shared what he learned!
And he shared his philosophy not to give himself special status, but because he cared enough to help me and to help you to grow from what he
Hanshi Dometrich was an extremely accomplished marital artist. He was an excellent teacher extraordinaire.
He was a recipient of numerous prestigious awards. His dedication to Chito-ryu, his dedication to his students, and his dedication to the
development of the human character was his legacy.
"Hanshi was a rolls-royce of a man and a mercedes-benz of an instructor."
Hanshi Dometrich influenced our lives beyond measure. He made every one of us in this room and many more who could not make it to this event,
a better person in many aspects of our lives.
-A better man!
-A better woman!
-A better husband!
-A better wife!
-A better student!
-A better co-worker!
-A better parent!
-A better friend!
But most of all a better human being in society.
We thank the spirit of Hanshi Dometrich that still hovers over us.
-Moving around us!
-Standing under us!
-And burning inside us!
Sometime if you listen very carefully you can still hear Hanshi's voice echoing through the corridors of time.
-Tighten-up that stance!
-Keep your fist tight!
-Thrust with your hips!
-Fire that kick out!
When we gather together on occasions like this weekend, we thank the spirit and personality of Hanshi Dometrich, who left his indelible mark
on each of our lives in his own special way -and in our hearts and in our minds, we can quietly say forever we will fondly stay!
"It's not how long you live, but how well. And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's
the life in your years."
AUDRA, WEST VIRGINIA 2019
by Don Schmidt, Renshi
Audra State Park is simply an amazing adventure! It is almost heaven for a variety of reasons: the weather, scenery,
the river, big rocks, rhododendrun, NO BITING BUGS, and I have not even mentioned the good stuff. On August 9, 2019, members and families of
the USCK descended on this paradisiacal wilderness situated near Hanshi's and Okusan's hometown Clarksburg. I have been around woods where
mosquitoes and gnats are relentless, but this place is different. Again, I did not see one mosquito or gnat. If you have ever camped or even
sat in your back yard in the evening, you likely had mosquito traps, netting, zappers that flash relentlessly, and citronella laced atmosphere.
Not at Audra! Just the aroma of campfires and woods. It is just like Hanshi always described the campground and, as Okusan said, his most
The campers enjoyed a little rain which came at the perfect time; at night. Nighttime temperatures were in the fifties
and daytime temperatures were in the mid to high seventies. Awesome camping weather. Hopefully, the above narrative entices you to attend next
year's Audra adventure. Now for the good stuff.
The comradery in the campground is tremendous. Karateka and families helping each other set up their camps, rafting the
river, sitting around talking and enjoying campfires. The training on Saturday is always tremendous simply because you are training with fellow
USCK karateka in a special place doing something special. All without the presence of biting bugs.
Kata training should be done with an empty mind known as mushin. It is a challenge to keep an empty mind when you face
the river and see its glorious beauty rushing by. If you get too focused on the river, you will either add extra moves in the kata or completely
mess it up.
Kyoshi Sherry Kembre gave us a "brisk" hour of basic training. She continued teaching the second hour as the group
performed kata. When the kata got beyond the beginner level, Shihan Kevin Drummond took the beginners and novices aside to focus on their needs.
Renshi Gerald Meade taught our bo kata Sakagawa No Kon Sho to all karateka during the third hour. During outdoor training
seminars bo kata usually occurs because of the ample space.
The fourth hour was taught by Renshi Don Schmidt who focused on wrist escapes and knife defense. The focus was designed to
increase students' confidence and their competence should they ever be face-to-face with a bad guy wielding a knife.
The four hours of training flew by in my opinion, but left ample time to enjoy the river before the cookout. I used the
coldness of the river as my "ice bath" to help repair the beating my legs took during the first two hours. Holding stances on a slight incline
for what seemed to be an eternity is different than flat dojo training surfaces.
Shihan Kevin Drummond and Shihan Michael Messenger hosted the dinner. Food was set up like a "chuck wagon" and it was
simply delicious. After dinner, Matt Cowherd began strumming and picking his guitar. His talent filled the air as darkness slowly sneaked in under
the trees that were illuminated by the roaring campfire. S'mores anyone?
Personally, I am already planning and looking forward to next year's Audra Adventure.
SOME LIKE IT HOT!
by Don Schmidt, Renshi
Shochugeiko on July 20, 2019, occurred on one of the hottest days of the year. The weather forecasts leading up to this hot, humid, day may have scared some members into skipping the event because reports were that the "humiture", combination of humidity and temperature, was supposed to make it feel like 105 degrees. Perfect! Because shochugeiko training, which started in Japan as early as 1896, is supposed to occur on the hottest day of the year. Our 5 hour training period ended at 3 p.m. just about when the high of 93 degrees occurred and when the humidity was likely about 60%. (It did not get as hot as forecasted). The USCK has held shochugeiko for years, outside, in a field, where it is hot and the sun is trying to beat you down. Shochugeiko 2018 was just as hot with high humidity (92°,60%). Shochugeiko, like its opposite kangeiko, is meant to be extreme training not designed for the meek. Since 1896, Shochugeiko training was designed to build physical strength and help you develop a "never give up attitude". The 2019 participants experienced the satisfaction of accomplishing a great feat and reached inside themselves to finish. In the event you are ever attacked and the going gets tough, you will need to reach inside yourself and gather enough fortitude to finish. Otherwise, the ending will be disastrous.
The USCK always has had tough, vigorous training and the tradition continues. Making it through Kyoshi Sherry Kembre's first hour of basics and fighting the elements set the tone for reaching inside and finishing. After refreshing with ice water, ice cold Gatorade, iced rags and other tricks to keep one cool she pounded the upper ranks for another hour doing kata. Shihan Shawna Lingo took the youth kyu ranks aside where they performed beginner and novice kata. Too much sweat in my eyes to provide any more details as to what else may have occurred.
Another break in the action and more replenishing occurred drinking the cold beverages provided by our host Okusan. During the third session I taught kusanku dai kata. Kusanku dai is a Chito-ryu version of kusanku kata. It is a kata that Hanshi really liked and likely learned from his late friend Sensei Takayoshi Nagamine.
The fourth session was led by Shihan Lawrence Hawkins III who taught some kumite and self-defense ideas. Kyoshi Kembre used this hour to group together those DNBK members going to Japan in 2020 to work on our demonstration at the Butokuden. More sweating naturally occurred, but by this time my gi was drenched and a breeze developed which along with the replenishing of fluids during the breaks, I was feeling "refreshed". The breeze was a godsend compared to hombu dojo training without the breeze where indoor temperatures reach 90 degrees on days such as this one.
During the last hour Renshi Eric Ford and I taught the USCK version of Sakagawa No Kon Sho which is a bo kata. Renshi Ford had the group perform certain bunkai applications inherent in the kata. At some point during this final hour, the grill masters Paul and Kathy Webster fired up the grill and that aroma wafted over our training field. That aroma is like a shot of adrenalin in the arm because one senses that the end of the battle is nearing conclusion and lots of food and more fluids is awaiting to be devoured.
Shochugeiko 2019 was attended by some of our Shotokan friends as well as travelers from out of state. Shihan Gordon Levin came from Florida and unfortunately attended his last USCK Shochugeiko for the next few years because he is moving to France. He has attended numerous of these seminars to "get out of the heat"! Keep reading because his words follow on what Shochugeiko has meant to him.
by Gordon Levin, Shihan
When Okusan asked me to write an article about Shochugeiko, she added, "because this will be your last one for a while..." and that made me think a bit. Yes, I will be relocating out of the country for a few years for work, but missing a couple Shochugeikos is not such a big deal. Maybe I'll find a Shochugeiko wherever I'm at during the summers. I've got to admit, its my favorite of the organization's national events. Coming from Florida, I somehow feel like I've got homecourt advantage the whole day; its almost always cooler at the Park then where I'm coming from. According to my Chito-Ryu passport, I've been to 15 of them, but I know I've forgotten to bring my passport to a few of them. Maybe that number's more for some students, maybe less for other ones. I did however start to reminisce about some Shochugeikos both recent and long past.
The first Shochugeiko was held in the summer of 1993, according to our U.S. Chito-Ryu web-site. That time period was tumultuous and Shochugeiko's were part of it; all U.S. Chito-Ryu students should read that part of our history web-page... There might even be some answers to Yudansha test questions in there! My first Shochugeiko was in 1995 and back then they were 3- day events. My first Shochugeiko was disastrous for me personally. I picked every worst way of wrong transportation in order to get there; finally arriving after midnight (and lights out). I was a typical adult male Orange belt trying too hard, using too much muscle, and exhausting myself during every training session, way more than I needed to. At the end of each day other people were doing things together: playing music, having conversations, etc. and I was so tired, I was in my bunk as soon as possible after dinner, and I could barely move the next morning. I was dumb and didn't bother with sunscreen often enough (and hats weren't allowed back then). By the end of the 3rd day, my head was very sunburnt, lips were severely chapped, I could barely move, and I smelled really bad. Because of all that, when it was over, I felt like I had survived some sort of torture test. However, Sensei Jim Davenport (RIP) was very gracious and offered to take me to the airport the next day and allowed me to stay at his place overnight. We spent a great day together talking about karate things and not-karate things; he was always one of my favorites from that day forward. Thankfully, Shochugeikos have gotten easier for me since then; some of it is that Shochugeiko is more instructional now; less outright kicking of your butt. I'd like to think at least part of that is me getting a little better over time. (Humor me here)
These days, Shochugeiko for me is more about getting to see and catch up with people I might not have seen for many months (or years) and meeting new people as well. I'm happy just to still be able to train these days. Don't forget, the BBQ afterwards is always awesome - chocolate chip cookies - that's all I'm saying.
Looking forward, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to find good people to train with over the next few summers. ...Now all I have to do is figure out the BBQ.
HANSHI's 7th ANNUAL MEMORIAL CLINIC
by Don Schmidt, Renshi
It is worth repeating and it is your giri. Hanshi would be extremely happy knowing that you have continued to support the USCK and his wife since his passing in March after the 2012 clinic. The 7th annual memorial clinic was well attended and the overall camaraderie made the weekend the icing on the cake.
The kanji for "meinichi" on the celebratory, commemorative shirt was hand printed by Noriko Rossi. Meinichi means "death anniversary". Unlike how Americans count anniversary dates, the Japanese count the death event as the first anniversary. No one celebrates death, but we do celebrate our loved one's life which according to Japanese custom is celebrated on the first, third, fifth, seventh, and so on, anniversaries. We have been celebrating Hanshi's life and accomplishments every March which coincides with his birthday on March 15. This year's annual memorial clinic was the seventh since his passing.
The curriculum for the clinic was appropriately determined by Hanshi's daughter, Kyoshi Sherry Kembre. Keeping with the traditions of the USCK's training regiment that has been in existence before Hanshi started his karate training in 1951, the clinic included basics, kata and other self defense concepts. The only secret in becoming good at defending yourself is sweat. If you put your heart and soul into your training, you will get better with your basics and your overall ability to defend yourself. This was Hanshi Dometrich's way of learning and teaching for decades.
No wonder that Kyoshi Kembre led the start of the clinic with her vigorous drills of basics. Back and forth across the training deck repeating the drill as she thought necessary just like her father would have done. Those of you who have not been " barked at" by Hanshi during his instructional drills got a taste of what training was like in front of her dad. The drills involved solid, Chito-ryu basics and beginner kata. What a joy it is to be in a large group of karateka doing drills in the same manner and filling the room with sounds of gi snapping and cracking. After her hour or so of drills we were a sweaty mess and my leg muscles were twitching from all the "excitement".
Karateka were separated for the second session of training. Black belts on one side and kyu ranks on the other. Renshi Eric Ford taught the kyu ranks how to properly kick as Kyoshi Kembre taught the black belts kata. At one point I noticed that the kiai coming from the kyu ranks was making it hard for me to hear Kyoshi Kembre's commands which are quite loud. Their enthusiasm was duly noted and hopefully motivated my group to do better. My gi got wetter with sweat. We all liked it, loved it, and wanted more of it!
The third session involved Renshi John Wellbrock teaching black belts the Henshuho and relating the individual techniques to kata bunkai while I taught the kyu ranks knife defense techniques. My instruction followed the rules that I was taught: remove the target, control the weapon, disarm and disable the attacker. I also emphasized that everyone needs to pay attention to their surroundings to avoid getting surprised. The kyu ranks consisted of youth and adults and I was impressed how the youth followed the instruction.
The fourth session involved my teaching black belts knife and gun defense and the kyu ranks were shown some self defense techniques. Knife defense took the majority of my session and in the last few minutes I taught the two basic methods Hanshi taught on disarming a gun assailant. Renshi Wellbrock taught the kyu ranks Henshuho and self defense applications. He related the Henshuho movement to taking the assailant's balance and escaping harm.
Near the end of the final hour, Kyoshi Kembre led us through Hanshi's personal kata Chokusen and our signature kata Seisan. After bowing out, three bonzai cheer were directed to Hanshi and his life accomplishments. Thanks to our Shotokan friends who were in attendance.
We gathered at the hombu to continue the celebration. Ample and delicious food was waiting as usual. Thanks to Okusan who organized the entire event.
by Reggie Ward, Ft. Bragg Yoseikan
As it says in our training manual "If nothing else is impressed upon the student of Chito-ryu it should be the importance of Sanchin." This was the opening statement made by Don Schmidt, Renshi to start Kangeiko 2019. He emphasized that the theme of this six hour training session was to apply Sanchin concepts to all aspects of Chito-ryu technique. My first thought was WOW! I thought to myself that Sanchin is such a difficult kata to do and now I have an opportunity to work on the kata and Chito-ryu concepts all at once-for six hours. I concluded that Kangeiko 2019 was not to be missed. At the onset of the training, we dived into Sanchin kata in segments and then did drills to replicate the Sanchin feeling. We finished this session by doing Sanchin in its entirety.
At some point during his assistant's Sensei Matt Cowheard's instruction, Renshi Schmidt observed a lack of courtesy or respect shown to Sensei Cowheard. Renshi Schmidt quickly reminded everyone that karate begins with courtesy and ends with courtesy and then he motivated everyone with knuckle push-ups on a very, very, cold and hard dojo floor. Sensei Matt Cowherd kept the energy high while drilling us on basics, one after the other.
Renshi Schmidt led us through a session of partner drills during which he emphasized to use our core to move off line and counter with speed. Another segment of the training included doing Ni Se Shi kata, Seisan and Taikyoku Ni utilizing concepts that Sanchin teaches us. He referred to how Ni Se Shi starts out hard like Sanchin, but then the moves explode without losing the concepts that Sanchin teaches us.
Renshi Schmidt then conducted a session of knife, gun and club defense which was quite spirited. He emphasized to first remove the target, then control the weapon and finally neutralize the attacker.
When it came time for the run, I was ready for it until we stepped outside. Man it was cold. The air was very heavy, but the run was not that bad with the exception of various objects along the route that needed to be avoided. Upon returning to the dojo, we engaged in a lengthy, spirited round of ippon jiyu kumite. We finished the training by doing Sanchin kata in its entirety.
Thank you for the great training Renshi Schmidt and Sensei Cowherd. I look forward to seeing you both again. A special thank you to Meiyo Hanshi Barbara Dometrich for hosting this very unique event.
On my way back to Tennessee, I was an hour away from home when it happened. Cramps in my legs! I grabbed a couple of bananas before leaving the hombu that helped some, but I had to pull into a McDonald's where I got a double cheese burger and a large coffee. I walked around my car eating my lunch.
WE LIKE IT, WE LOVE IT, WE WANT MORE OF IT...
MIDWEST DNBK KAGAMI BIRAKI 2019
On Saturday, January 5th the Midwest DNBK Karate Division gathered for the traditional starting of the New Year Kagami Biraki training. Membership from several Midwest states including Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana joined together for this great annual event to dedicate ourselves to our budo training in the New Year. This year's Kagami Biraki training not only took place at the U.S, Chito-Ryu Honbu dojo, but also at several other DNBK dojos throughout the region.
The event started off with a reading of the very inspirational letter from DNBK leadership. Shihan William Jansak led the warmups and really got everyone motivated and energized for the training to follow. Kyoshi Sherry Kembre led the group through a series of kihon exercises and some of the basic techniques and stances that are the signature of Chito Ryu Karate, Hanshi Dwight Holley took over the next session of the training teaching the Shotokan kata Jutte. Finally, to conclude our dedication to our budo training in the New Year, Renshi John Wellbrock led the group in a Spirit Circle Session. Every member present took a turn in the center of the circle leading their fellow karateka in a kihon drill. By this time, the efforts were strong, the kiais were loud, the energy was flowing, and the commitment and dedication to budo training was obvious to all.
After bowing out, the members present thanked each other for their efforts and energy, and for sharing in this wonderful training session. Following the formal Kagami Biraki event, everyone gathered for an afternoon of food, refreshment, and fellowship.
Respectfully, John Wellbrock, Renshi
THE START OF THE NEXT 50 YEARS OF THE USCK
by Don Schmidt, Renshi
As I mentioned in my speech, last year was the 50th anniversary of the USCK. We are on our way to the 75th anniversary! Imagine that without thinking of what could occur during this time span! The year will be 2042! OMG!!!! All I can say is that we better still be in all white gi.
On Friday, October 12, 2018, we started our first year after the 50th anniversary with very intense National Test candidates seeking to earn the rank of shodan through yondan. The National Test Board consisted of Kyoshi Sherry Kembre, Renshi John Wellbrock, Renshi Eric Ford, Shihan Kevin Drummond, and Sensei Gordon Levin. The test committee consisted of myself and Shihan Tony DiTerlizzi. As expected, the candidates were subjected to vigorous drills of basics as they were required to show their understanding of Chito-ryu karate and various JKA basics. Followed by a certain selection of kata and their test kata, candidates for rank consideration did not falter under the requirements for proving their worthiness of the rank they sought. Following the kata part of the test, candidates had to perform kumite drills and certain levels of Henshuho as well as bunkai applications related to their test kata.
All the candidates had their "ducks in a row". They were razor sharp and what the test board expects from candidates that comes before it. The following five shodan candidates earned shodan rank: Paul Hankle, Yoseikan Crozet, VA, Brianna Locklear, Yoseikan Ft Bragg, NC, Robert Price and Cage Spicer, Hombu, and David Hickenlooper, Yoseikan Anderson, OH. Mathew Cowheard, Hombu, and Zac Bowling Yoseikan Anderson, OH were promoted to the rank of nidan. Chris Brueckner, Yoseikan Anderson, OH was promoted to sandan and Bill DiGrezio from the Hombu was promoted to yondan.
Following this hugely, impressive, successful, night the Board of Directors met the following Saturday morning and discussed the status of the USCK. Most of the contents will remain confidential, but we did provide training to all those present about the ramifications of the Safe Sport Act that was signed into law by President Trump in February 2018. The USCK is taking a proactive approach to assure that minors continue to train in an atmosphere free of sexual harassment and abuse.
The clinic to honor O-Sensei Chitose's birthday commenced at 11 a.m. Kyoshi Sherry Kembre wanted the clinic to start with Sanchin kata in order to establish the mindset throughout the training the basic elements that Sanchin kata provides. I was designated the instructor for this first hour. Relying on the first sentence of our training manual that states "If nothing else is impressed upon the student of Chito-ryu, it should be the importance of Sanchin", the theme of the clinic evolved. Initially, students were informed that Sanchin kata provides at minimum the following: 1) Breathing and posture. It was stressed that the two elements are so interrelated you cannot have one without the other. Students were informed how to breathe properly and how to make the connection of their abdominal muscles with their pelvis. 2) Proper execution of basics. It was stressed that punching with a closed fist throughout the motion and blocking has to be done precisely as performed in Sanchin. 3) Kime. Emphasis was placed on the execution of how any technique involves kime and how Sanchin emphasizes kime throughout the kata at maximum contractions of body muscle. 4) Stances. It was emphasized the significance of inner pressure of the thigh muscles and the counter influence the feet have on uchi hachi dachi and sanchin dachi. 5) Crescent stepping. The importance of crescent stepping was emphasized to keep one's center of gravity centered in the core or tanden of the human body as well as to maintain balance. 6) The lowering of one's upper torso mass into the core area in order to produce maximum power. After brief introductions to Sanchin kata segments, participants were then led through a series of basic techniques or other applications that our curriculum provides by putting all these elements of Sanchin into basics, and specific Henshuho and te hodoki applications. It was explained that our Sanchin kata tension is unlike the tension found in Goju-ryu and Kanbun Uechi's style (Uechi-ryu/Pangai-noon). We finished the session doing Sanchin kata twice in its entirety. Students were reminded to continue the Sanchin elements throughout the clinic to help them improve their karate.
Kyoshi Sherry Kembre immediately followed up with a vigorous hour of basics. She literally pounded us and I immediately thought of "bad karma" because of how I ran those testing the night before through their drills. Those drills maybe lasted 20 minutes, but now we were locked into an hour. Utilizing and practicing my Sanchin breathing/posture, I believe, helped me remain in my stance and overcome my depletion of oxygen and muscle fatigue as Kyoshi Kembre reminded us of the details of the stance, posture, or how to punch with a closed fist. Hanshi had to be winking from above as his daughter brutalized us as we trained like we did in the past. If you relaxed and came out of your stance, you only cheated yourself out of an awesome hour of training.
Finally, a break occurred and then the third hour commenced. Ranks were broken down. Renshi Eric Ford led kyu ranks through NiSeiShi kata and the kaisetz. It is a Naha style kata which is a "hard" kata in that elements of Sanchin kata are readily apparent. Renshi John Wellbrock led the black belts through Sochin kata. He emphasized that it is also a Naha style kata like Sanchin. He provided a thorough history of the roots of Chito-ryu as we repeated this kata several times. Renshi Wellbrock reminded us to utilize the elements stressed in the first two hours of our clinic. He also told us that in Uechi-ryu, their motto is that training starts with Sanchin and ends with Sanchin.
I was called upon to lead all students through the fourth hour of the clinic which involved teaching te hodoki. I emphasized that students needed to utilize their core, breathing and posture to gain maximum advantage over their opponent. We finished the seminar with Sanchin kata. When we finished and eerie silence filled the room or maybe the room was filled with our ki.
We bowed out and gave a thunderous banzai cheer to O-sensei.
Saturday night was the icing on the cake as usual. We as a family gathered together and enjoyed the food, the presentations, the drink, the camaraderie, the entertainment and the success of our fellow karateka. Everyone who tested the night before were introduced and congratulated on earning their new rank. Hanshi Dwight Holley and Kyoshi Melvin Lewis, Shotokan practitioners, joined us for dinner at the head table.
Okusan awarded the title Shihan to Sensei Gordon Levin. Individual awards were given to those who exhibit tremendous karatedo during the year. Kyoshi Sherry Kembre was presented the Outstanding Leadership Award. I was presented the Spirit, Dedication and Honor Award. Shihan Tony DiTerlizzi received the Excellence Award. Shihan Shawna Lingo and Sensei Theresa Brandenburger were presented the Loyalty Award. Bailey Spicer was presented the Courage Award and we were shown video of her recent kumite matches during which she won the gold medal. John Palmer was presented the Perseverance Award.
Okusan took the opportunity to inform two hombu students who returned to training in Chito-ryu that they earned back their previous rank. Dr. Montiel Rosenthal MD was told that she could wear her black belt that she earned in the 1980's and Kim Sauer was told to wear her ik kyu belt that she earned around the turn of the century. Okusan also told John Palmer, hombu student, that she observed him during the clinic. John did not do well on his green II test in September and was told to improve in four areas and be ready to retest in a month. As the result of watching him during the clinic, Okusan saw improvement in his areas of concern and promoted him to green II. As we say at the hombu, you are always being watched.
Shihan Tony DiTerlizzi had an awesome presentation of the year in review. Sensei Matt Cowheard and I played guitars as we sang together The Ballad of Chito-Ryu as written by Hanshi Dometrich. Sensei Cowheard continued on the "hot mike" and played a few songs as he does at the Audra clinic. He dedicated a song to Cage Spicer, newest hombu shodan, Man in the Mirror, because even though Cage's karate looked pretty good, he made sure of it. As he passed the mirrors in the hombu doing basic test drills, he kept glancing at his reflection in the mirrors. He was specifically critiqued by test board representative Shihan Kevin Drummond for glancing at himself in the mirrors and how he needed to get a copy of the song by Michael Jackson. Priceless!
The entire weekend was priceless!
Older entries can be found in the U.S. Chito-kai history pages.