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.

Chito-Ryu Family

By: Teresa Locklear
Ft Bragg , North Carolina
Our children have been training at the Fort Bragg Yoseikan for about seven years now. My husband and oldest son have traveled to the Honbu several times for seminars, but I haven't ever been able to attend. This year we had two children testing, so we decided that we would all go and attend as a family! Thursday evening our children attended class and that was my first time seeing the Honbu in person. What a beautiful place it was and I felt transported back to another time as we walked around. So much culture and history and yet it's such a comforting place.
Friday evening as our children tested we sat in the back and played cards. Even though those testing were probably feeling the stress we felt as if we were sitting in a friend's kitchen just hanging out and talking. We met several others that were waiting on loved ones as they tested. We talked about the testing, Chito-Ryu, Hanshi, Okusan and so much more. In the back there were more pictures than I could count. It was an amazing experience to look at all the pictures and think about the history of Chito-Ryu! It was hard to think of those just on the other side of the door possibly being stressed when we were so relaxed. It was as though we were hanging out with family. I think that's because it is family, our Chito-Ryu family. Since our children started training at the Fort Bragg Yoseikan we have felt the family bond. Our sensei, Sensei Po, has treated us as family from the day we started. If one of the kids misses class and he knows they are sick he calls to check on them. When there has been bad weather near us he calls to check on us and offers us a place to stay if we need it. We check on him and the others in our dojo when we don't see them or hear from them. We've always had the family atmosphere, but coming and attending the testing, seminar and banquet was seeing the larger part of that family! I know that for many the testing evening is very stressful. The students have trained and hope they are prepared, but there are always things to be corrected and more to learn. Quite a bit of that, I view as the mentoring part of being in this Chito-Ryu family. Those that have trained for many years mentor and help mold those younger students.
The seminar is another time to train and learn things that you might miss when you live as far away from the Honbu as we do. There is a time to talk and meet others, but this is a time specifically geared for learning. At the beginning of the seminar many were asked to share how long they had been training. Many have been in the Chito-Ryu family as long as I've been alive. Just the thought of those dedicated to their training for life was so very touching to me!
Another thing that touched me greatly was at the end of the seminar Okusan requested the "spirit circle" to be done. I had no idea what that was, but instantly was moved in a way that is hard to describe. The room split into two circles and they each had students taking turns demonstrating and it changed the entire mood of the room. I don't study Chito-Ryu, I just support my children, but I was almost to tears by the instant mood change in the room. The support for our Chito-Ryu family and all those that have been here before us training and teaching was truly remarkable. It was an amazing way to end the seminar and I felt truly proud to be part of this Chito-Ryu family.
As our time was coming to an end we got to experience one last part to our trip. I had assumed, wrongly, that the banquet would be a very serious and possibly stuffy event. Everyone was nicely dressed, but it was like having a large meal with family. Friends that hadn't seen each other ere catching up, emails and numbers were exchanged to share information and it was just a wonderful way to end the weekend. We saw amazing pictures not only from this past year, but from the many years of Chito-Ryu. Awards and certificates were given out with such love that it was as if a parent were giving those things to their child. The amount of experience and dedication that I saw in the room made me emotional to know that all those people are so invested in our Chito-Ryu family continuing to grow and thrive for many, many years.
I am so grateful that I was able to attend this year and experience all the wonderful things about our Chito-Ryu family that I haven't experienced before. It was an amazing weekend and one that I won't forget!

HAPPY 50th ANNIVERSARY USCK!

by Don Schmidt, Renshi
Imagine being asked by your karate teacher, as he took your hand into his, and requested that you organize a United States Chito-ryu karate organization and at the same time appoint you as the Chairman and Chief Instructor of the organization. Do not forget that you have a job and family that requires your attention. Where would you be after a year of attempting this task? As most of us know, this is exactly what happened to the late Hanshi William J. Dometrich in 1967. O-Sensei Chitose continued talking to Hanshi and told Hanshi to build a good hombu, produce good students and build a good organization; not necessarily a large organization, but a good one. This meeting resulted in Hanshi and his wife Meiyo Hanshi Barbara E. Dometrich to create the United States Chito Kai (USCK).
Now imagine chairing the USCK National Banquet on October 21, 2017, as you gaze out to the audience, realizing that 50 years later you are still carrying out the request of O-Sensei because sitting before you is a large group, consisting of quality students representing a good organization. Although Meiyo Hanshi Dometrich was sitting there without her late husband, she was not alone. The support or loyalty you give to the USCK is a tremendous display of your character and sent a message to her that she is not alone. Together, WE ARE USCK!
As it has been written about, through the years disappointments occurred, but one thing has never changed and that is the mission of the USCK. Fifty years is a tremendous accomplishment which is why a banzai cheer was dedicated to the USCK and its founders at the end of our clinic. Hanshi has always said that without Okusan there would be no USCK. Through the years they created a quality organization with a hombu that transcends most, if not all, karate establishments in the United States.
On Friday the USCK National Test occurred as 12 students tested for promotions to ik kyu through go dan. The test Board consisted of Kyoshi Sherry Kembre (chair), Renshi Gerald Meade, Renshi Eric Ford, Shihan James Acampora and Shihan Laura Stith Deck. The test committee consisted of myself and Renshi Wes Ernest. The following candidates for ik kyu passed: Cage Spicer, Alex Rogers, Bob Price, from the hombu Yoseikan, Paul Hinckle from Yoseikan Crozet; and Brianna Locklear from Yoseikan Ft. Bragg. Sho dan candidate Brian Cobb, Yoseikan Anderson, passed. Newly promoted ni dan were Zach Locklear Yoseikan Ft. Bragg, Jake Salamon Yoseikan Anderson and Ed Harris hombu Yoseikan. Ray Carrera, Yoseikan, earned the rank of yon dan and Paul Knecht, Yoseikan II Cincinnati, earned the rank of go dan.
On Saturday morning the Shihan kai and Shibu kai gathered at the Board of Directors meeting to discuss organizational matters. Okusan intended to give those in attendance a 50th anniversary commemorative plate, but the supplier had several production glitches that prevented timely delivery. Much to the chagrin of Okusan, all she could do at this time was inform us that the matter is pending.
As usual, the four hour training session on Saturday was awesome. Kyoshi Kembre led the first hour with brisk drills emphasizing Chito-ryu technique. She continued with the second hour by leading the brown and black belts through Seisan kata and then introduced 8 Seisan kaisetz that she and others did almost 50 years ago. These kaisetz are in a booklet featuring O-Sensei and Soke. The kaisetz closely mirror moves in the kata and designed to encourage students to think of kata applications. During the second hour segment, Shihan Kevin Drummond led the beginners and intermediate kyu ranks through Seiken no Migi Hidari. Rather than punching, Shihan Drummond interfaced the drill with the techniques in our basic 12 movements drill.
The next hour and a half resulted in a kyu group led by Shihan Paul Knecht and a black belt group that I led. During this hour and a half, I went through the 28 Hen Shu Ho in an attempt to encourage yudansha to study them as demonstrated so they are able to teach them in accordance with the USCK curriculum. Shihan Paul Knecht also taught the Hen Shu Ho to his group.
Once again we finished the clinic with "spirit circles"; one led by Shihan Jansak and the other was led by Shihan Messinger. The purpose of these circles is to get the group on a mission to work on their technique as well as fill the room with energy and kia. We were one because WE ARE THE USCK!
The training seminar came to a close with banzai cheer to our style's founder Dr. Tsuyoshi Chitose and as mentioned earlier a separate banzai cheer to the founders of the USCK William J. Dometrich and Barbara E. Dometrich. In describing our training, perhaps Kyoshi Kembre described it best. She said that she was impressed with our technique and she reminded us of what her father said on occasions and that was that he would put us up against any karate organization whether Japanese or non Japanese. Don't let it go to your head. Just keep training and have good bushido.
On Saturday, October 21, Okusan's planned banquet went off without a hitch. Hanshi Holley, Kyoshi Melvin Lewis, and others from Hanshi Holley's organization trained and dined with us. Shihan Mujaga-Mujo Mustafic from Iowa is associated with Hanshi Holley's group and he was in attendance for the first time. Shihan Jeff Thompson and some of his students participated. These guys are well adept in their art and have good bushido so they are good company to train with and share camaraderie at events. Shihan Tony DiTerlizzi's year in review presentation was as awesome as ever. Once again we raffled off a knife made by Sensei Mike Shaefer raising money to donate to Parkinson's walk/run in Hanshi's name. Okusan presented prestigious USCK awards to certain individuals in order to recognize their contributions. Sensei Evelyn Disher- Courage Award-for opening a dojo in Orangeburg, SC; Sensei Chris Brueckner- Excellence Award- for maintaining our web page; Renshi John Wellbrock-Patience Award-for teaching karate to youths ranging in age from 6 to 8 including his grandson; Sensei Richard Rike-Perserverance Award-for coming home to the USCK; Sensei Zach Locklear-Loyalty Award- for teaching classes while his Sensei was recovering from medical ailments; and Sensei Matt Cowheard-Benevolence Award (gin)-for his kindness.
A handful of 50th Anniversary plates were delivered to Okusan during the training. Only one was given out during the banquet to the most deserving person in attendance, Kyoshi Lawrence C. Hawkins Jr. Esq. Kyoshi Hawkins started training under Hanshi Dometrich's tutelage in 1962 or 5 years before the creation of the USCK. Through thick and thin he remained loyal to Hanshi and Okusan and continues to be the Chief Advisor/Chairman Emeritus of the USCK. Upon the presentation of the gift, thunderous applause erupted and we stood to honor this man who has displayed tremendous bushido.

2017 Rensei Taikai

September 9, 2017
David Hickenlooper, Ik Kyu
     
DNBK Members       All Attendees

On September 9, 2017 Kyoshi Sherry Kembre, Kyoshi Gerald Beshears, and I took part in the 2017 Rensei Taikai hosted by the Karate of Japan Federation (KOJF) and Hanshi Dwight Holley. After being warmly greeted, we were read the letter prepared for the event. If the main idea behind the training were to be summed up in a few words they would be: Humanity, Character, and Community. While different styles of karate were represented, the focus was on what we have in common.

The day began with Hanshi Holley addressing us. During his remarks, Hanshi Holley told us the focus if this training was the human element. It is this that makes Karate what it is. Without humanity, there is no Karate. Hanshi Holley also related his relationship to Chito-Ryu and Hanshi Dometrich and the profound impact he had on him. The karateka were told "while there are many paths up the same mountain, when we get to the top we are all looking at the same moon." This reflected the approach to the training. The instructors were introduced and what was pointed out was not necessarily their physical ability but their character. He concluded his opening remarks with we should approach the training with the goal of improving not only our physical abilities but our mind and spirit, our character.

The day was divided into four segments. Training was led by Shihan Moises De La Cruz from Florida, Sensei Mujaga-Mujo Mustafic from Iowa, Sensei Dan Taylor from California, and Hanshi Ken Tallack from Ontario Canada, respectively. Each instructor devoted time to ensuring we were being the best we could be.

It wasn't long before Shihan De La Cruz had the blood pumping and sweat flowing from everyone on the deck. We focused initially on drills and movements one would use in Kumite. These techniques came is rapid succession. As the first segment progressed, all the previous movements were included in increasingly complex combinations of blocks, punches, and kicks.

Basics were the focus of the second segment taught by Sensei Mujaga-Mujo Mustafic from Iowa. We did the majority of these in Zenkutsu-Dachi. As the training progressed, as with the first segment, the movements became more difficult. It became apparent just how crucial good basics are to everything we do. By striving to each move correctly, with proper form, while fatigued, we soon learned the connection of how Karate builds character.

Sensei Dan Taylor told us on several occasions "Different means just different, not better, not worse, not right or wrong, just different" which was reinforced throughout the training. Although we were learning Goju-Ryu techniques, which have circular movements, there were many similarities with Chito-Ryu techniques. Much like the different paths up the mountain, we were essentially getting to the same place, we were just taking a different way there. I had the opportunity to work with Shihan Melvin Lewis from Louisville and Kyoshi Beshears during this part of the training. As we went over the various techniques, Sensei Taylor kept repeating he "wants to see light bulbs not question marks." This was the case as Kyoshi Beshears pointed out the similarities between the Goju-Ryu techniques and our own Hanten-Ho. They are designed to take the opponent off their center with minimal effort. The technique does all the work. This is a variation of Seiryoku Zenyou or maximum effect, minimum energy.

Mieyo Hanshi Barbara Dometrich arrived with Renshi Don Schmidt and she was introduced and proper respect was paid by the entire group bowing. Thus, demonstrating the closeness of the Karate community.

The final segment of training was led by Hanshi Ken Tallack of Ontario, Canada. We were shown a kata which is familiar to all, Seisan. However, we learned the Goju-Ryu and Kobiyashi Shorin Ryu interpretations of the kata. While parts seemed familiar, there were many differences in each interpretation. As Hanshi Tallack demonstrated each kata the students followed along. Hanshi Tallack then incorporated Bunkai applicable to each version of Seisan. Perhaps the most profound part of the instruction was the talk he gave at the end of the segment during which he related the impact others have had on him, including Hanshi Dometrich, and Okusan. Again, how karate relates to the human element was present.

The day concluded with Hanshi Holley addressing the Karateka. It was during this the impact of the human element hit home. In one room was hundreds, if not thousands, of years of karate experience. Hanshi Holley relayed how we have all been given a great gift by the Masters from hundreds of years ago. He likened It to receiving a priceless work of art and our duty to pass it on to the future generations. In so doing, we should not alter its ways that it becomes unrecognizable from its original form. Rather, we should protect and preserve it, pass it on so its essence is the same as when it was first conceived by the original Masters. The Masters and teachers from hundreds of years ago are still heard today through the way we train, teach, and conduct our lives. It is our duty to preserve their voices or they could be lost forever.

The 2017 Rensei Taikai was a great opportunity for all to learn, build new friendships and renew old ones, and strengthen the Karate community as a whole. I am glad I attended and look forward to next year.


A Visit from France

by Hervé Stephanus

For the context, my wife, oldest daughter and I used to live in Cincinnati during the 2004-2006 period. It is at that time that I started karate at the Yoseikan Hombu in Covington.

My wife Mari, our oldest daughter Aelia, our son Erwan, our younger daughter Maeleen and I just spent couple of weeks in the Mid West this summer, mainly in Cincinnati.

We showed Aelia where she was born in 2005: the daycare, the apartment in Florence, KY where we used to live and we spent time with my extended American Stephanus family around Madison, IN.

As well, with my son Erwan, we went several times to the dojo for training and all our family went to Audra State Park.

This has been such a great experience!

Since we went back to France

Since Mari, Aelia and I went back to France in 2006, I tried several karate clubs and honestly I did not find a dojo that really fitted me. It was very much sport oriented and I was somehow missing the mental connection with the traditional karate that goes beyond the physical aspect of karate.

Therefore, between 2007 and 2015 I almost did not practice karate. However, I continued to practice it at home by myself.

Then, in 2016, a friend of mine told me that there is a dojo that is called Bushido, 30 minutes away from our home. I went there and I found a nice group of persons, working on traditional karate, connecting the mental and the body. Mari told me: "Hervé I see you practicing karate at home from time to time, that means you like it, if you have a good place to train then go for it". I started karate again in September 2016. My son Erwan started karate at the same time in that same dojo. It is not the Chito-Ryu style as there is no Chito-Ryu in France to my knowledge, it is Shotokan, following the path of Sense Gichin Funakoshi. "A block is a block and a punch is a punch", whatever the style.

As we were planning our trip to the US, I sent an email to Okusan. Okusan responded that my son and I could come in the dojo and that we could as well join the group to Audra State Park.

We were delighted and accepted right away.

Training at the dojo

When we came at the dojo, Okusan was at her office desk like 10 years ago, "fidèle au poste" as we say in France. This was so good to see her and talk to her.

On some Tuesday and Thursday, I was pleased to catch up with a lot of the sensei that were already teaching way back: Schmidt Sensei, Ernest Sensei, Wellbrock Sensei, Meade Sensei, Beshears Sensei and Sherry Kembre Sensei as well as new Sensei and new generation of practitioners since then.

It was so good to discuss and to remember all the good memories like training during the night with Kangeiko and attending the Chicago tournament.

I had the chance to discuss with Beshears Sensei and was glad that he recovered. I was asking about "Nanakorobi Yaoki", meaning "Seven times down, eight times up". We talked together about this proverb. I will not forget this.

I had the possibility to practice various katas during this summer: Taikyoku ich, ni and san, Niseishi Sho and its Kaisetsu, Seisan, Rohai Sho and the 4 directions salute kata Shihohai. For most kata, I was barely able to follow the moves, as it has been a long time since I practiced them. But it felt good anyway and the moves were coming back slowly.

As well my son was willing to train at the dojo. He liked it so much and was asking me "Daddy when do we go back training at the dojo?". He received such a great training with a lot of patience from everyone. He does not understand English but as most of the terms are in Japanese he was able to practice and really enjoyed it. He was even looking forward to wash the floor at the end of the training ;-) "Domo arigato gozaimatsu" to everyone that trained him.

Training at Audra

To go to Audra State Park was a unique and wonderful time for us!

The location of the place was important too as Hanshi was from West Virginia, not that far from Audra State Park.


Practicing karate as a group with outstanding Sensei during 4 hours or so was an unforgettable experience. Last time I practice 4 hours was while doing Kangeiko when I was training at the dojo.


At Audra, we did San Ju Wasa at some point and my body remembered doing it from 10 years ago. As well, we performed the Sakugawa No Kon Sho bo kata, which was an exceptional experience for me as it was my first time doing bo.

Even though it was raining at the end of the practice, we did not want to stop training and started singing "we like it, we want it, we want more of it!".


After the training, I was very pleased to do a Shotokan kata called Bassai Dai that is somehow close to the spirit of Potsai / Bassai in Chito-ryu. A main difference, outside of the different movements, is that the kata with Chito-ryu is mostly performed open handed whereas the Bassai Dai with Shotokan is mainly performed with closed fists. It is not the same kata but one can notice that it has the same background.

My son made a new friend during the training and they were able to talk to each other and play together, with a little bit in French and a little bit in English. It was amazing.


During the training, my wife and my two daughters were hanging around and liked very much the place. Actually, they had the same great time as we had practicing karate. When we were driving back, my daughter Aelia even told us that being and playing in the river and its fountains at Audra was the best moment of our vacaction.

Back to France

While being back to France, we suggested to demonstrate to our Bushido karate club in France some exercises from the Yoseikan Hombu, which was very much welcome by our Sensei. Thus, it is like having a little bit of the training in the USA here in France ;-)

To conclude, I would like to say that Yoseikan Hombu is a dojo where you learn karate in it wider aspects. It is one of a kind in the US and possibly in our planet.

Hanshi left us couple of years ago. We miss him. Hanshi was such an inspirational guide. I truly feel that his spirit is with during our training as well as outside of the dojo. We keep him alive in our memory, in our practice and in our lives.

Thanks to everyone I met over the past couple of weeks and I hope to see you next time we come back to Cincinnati.

As well, if you come to France or would like to come to France, our place is in Brest (West of France). Please just let us know. Our guest room is waiting for you.


AUDRA SEMINAR

by Richard Rike, Crozet Yoseikan

Every August USCK karateka make the journey to the seminar tucked in the mountains of West Virginia hosted by Shihan Kevin Drummond and Shihan Michael Messinger. As I drove over the mountains and through the woods, my cell phone signal faded as I looked forward to returning to Audra State Park. It is a time of relaxation, friendship, and strong Chito-Ryu training. Some karateka and their families spent extra time at the campground, while others drove down for the weekend event.


Friday night was a wonderful time to reconnect over a great dinner at C.J. Maggies in Buchannon WV. Meiyo Hanshi Dometrich was with us which made the event very special. After visiting and eating delicious food we rejoined at the campground that evening to catch up on each other's lives and to allow the stresses of the work week to wash away. Stories, laughter, and campfire smoke filled the air as we relaxed among friends and family.

           

The next morning before training began, Kyoshi Sherry Kembre told us of the red cardinal that had landed next to her that day in Audra. A similar cardinal appeared last year so we knew that Hanshi was with us again. His spirit motivated us through the training as we spent the first hours working on kihon and kata. Kyu ranks were guided by Renshi Wes Ernest while dan ranks continued training with Kyoshi Kembre. Following a short break, Shihan Drummond began teaching. He provided guidance on seiken no migi hidari and combined this series with the thirty basic movements and the kaisetz. Shihan Drummond challenged us to adjust our techniques for both the left and the right sides as we paced through the movements. Next, Renshi Don Schmidt led the entire group through Sakugawa No Kon Sho. Renshi Schmidt walked the group through the combinations of the bo kata and allowed time to execute the kata. Our time was nearly up when Kyoshi Kembre led us through kumite drills. Rotating through partners and adjusting our target proved more challenging as the rain began to pour. Refreshed from the rainstorm, we lined up to thank those who were with us in spirit, each other and those who watched over our training. A few of us fortunate students received further instruction from Shihan Messinger. He emphasized kime, eye vectoring, and stance for which I am very grateful.

     
     

Although the afternoon was spotty with rain showers, our spirits stayed high. Relaxing, playing in the river, showering, and napping passed the time before the evening cookout. Conversation, yummy food, and camaraderie flowed through dinner which culminated in the talented guitar playing and singing by Sensei Matthew Cowherd and a stirring rendition of "Ballad of Chito-Ryu" by Renshi Schmidt. We retired to a final campfire where plenty of s'mores were devoured sandwiched between all the laughter. Campers slowly trickled away, rejuvenated from the training and spending time with our karate family. As I left the campground headed for home, I found myself eager for the next event, the USCK National Seminar, and humming the tune to "Country Road, Take Me Home".

Thanks to everyone that made this wonderful event possible.


A ROYAL VACATION

by Don Schmidt, Renshi

Perhaps you recall my last report in 2014 regarding Okusan's vacation during which we purchased a lot of t-shirts which were crammed into every corner of a Corolla. On July 22, 2017, Okusan, Kyoshi Sherry Kembre and I went on another vacation into the "low country", but this time we traveled in a Ford F150 which has ample room to haul t-shirts. One highlight of this trip involved discovering that Okusan is a descendant of Royalty. Once this was established, Okusan dared not visit a t-shirt shop, but we had a truck load of various sundry items.

     

Our first day of travel brought us to Orangeburg, South Carolina which is where Sensei Evelyn Disher opened the latest USCK dojo. On Sunday, we were off to Charleston, South Carolina a short distance from our encampment. Charleston is the center of the "low country" famous for seafood and a market which has a plethora of artisan items on display. To the market we went and various items were purchased like, wall switch plates, a tooth fairy pillow, wallets, and who knows what else. I searched for oysters and she crab soup in adjacent restaurants. In the process I found a restaurant that makes Bloody Mary's using Charleston Bloody Mary Mix. After a long day in Charleston, we returned to the metropolis of Orangeburg, or the "Big O", in preparation to attend Sensei Disher's Monday night karate class.

           

We had the entire Monday to tour the Big O which was accomplished by 10 in the morning. We also loaded more sundry items into the truck like Charleston Bloody Mary mix, vodka, Clamato juice, t-shirts, and who knows what else. The highlight was meeting with Sensei Disher and her quite elegant mother and going to class that evening. Kyoshi Kembre led the novice karateka through basics and kata. Then she worked with Sensei Disher while I continued with the novices working kumite drills. Sensei Disher presented Okusan with a shopping bag of more sundry items like a bucket of pecans, lapel pins, coasters, note stationary, and items of local interest like a cotton bale (miniature), and a cutting from a cotton plant. Into the F150 the bag went.

     

On Tuesday we were headed north to visit Yoseikan Ft. Bragg in North Carolina and Sensei Warren Pochinski. I think we were too busy eating Tu's delicious cooking to shop. On Wednesday evening, we went to Sensei Po's karate class at Ft. Bragg. Kyoshi Kembre led the karateka through basics and kata and then the group was split. Sensei Kembre worked with the yellow and orange belts and I worked with the green, brown and black belts.

     

On Thursday morning, we continued northward towards destination Crozet, Virginia. We had to drive through Richmond, Virginia and I wanted to visit an Army veterans' monument that pays tribute to the 80th Infantry Division which was my dad's unit during WWII. A year and a half ago I purchased an engraved brick in his name and since I was in the area I wanted to see it. The short of the story is that to my surprise the brick was not positioned in the ground and was in a closet. However, a Captain who I met found the brick and he held a brief ceremony which included my placing the brick at the monument base where it will remain. Fortuitously, there is an elk herd on this military installation which we were able to view.

I was in search of a particular flour that is milled in Virginia so I found a grocery in Charlottesville. It did not have the flour. A huge bakery was in the store so Kyoshi Kembre and Okusan loaded up on cookies and Boston crème delicacies. Into the F150 they went which was fine by me.

           

On Thursday night we attended Sensei Richard Rike's class at Crozet Yoseikan. Kyoshi Kembre led the class through basic drills and beginner kata. Later, we split the group after about an hour and she took the upper ranks and I taught the white, yellow and orange belts. Afterwards, Sensei Rike took us to roof-top restaurant in Crozet where we had a delightful time.

On Friday Morning, I found a Kroger in Crozet and found the flour I was searching for. Three bags of it were put in the F150. I happily turned the truck westward towards destination Clarksburg, West Virginia.

We headed west through the rugged mountains of Virginia and came to a cozy, little hamlet called Monterey. Well, there was a gift shop. This little hamlet also sold pure Virginia maple syrup drawn from the sugar maples that crowd the lofty hills surrounding the hamlet. Several jugs of maple syrup were purchased and some sundry items made their way to the F150 like a turtle puppet, ring, t-shirts, maple syrup cook book, hand painted jewelry container, and who knows what else.

On Friday afternoon, we arrived at the Clarksburg library to find relatives of Okusan's mother, Camille Irene Randolph. In genealogy terms, we found the redwood of a family tree. We learned that Edward Fitz Randolph was the first in her Randolph blood line to arrive to America in 1629 as a pilgrim. The tree did not stop there. The Fitz Randolphs were so famous their history is documented back to about 860 AD. One of her ancient relatives was the Duke of Normandy; one married the Saxon King of England. There are too many references to dukes, earls and lords to remember and repeat here. In addition, the Fitz Randolphs married into other prominent, royal families so there is (are) a castle(s) somewhere. Upon learning all this, I noticed that Okusan began waiving to people with a peculiar sideways motion of her hand.

Friday evening we met our good friends Shihan Messinger and Shihan Drummond and his wife Cindy. Breakfast in the morning with Shihan Messinger was a great sendoff as we prepared to depart Hanshi's and Okusan's hometown.

As we neared Cincinnati, we had one more stop. Okusan loves Jungle Jim's on route 32. Needless to say, more sundry items were placed into the F150.

It was good to take Okusan on a vacation and visit USCK dojo in the process. In short, we had a blast. We were delighted to visit with fellow karateka and see firsthand that the principles of Chito-ryu as taught to us by Hanshi Dometrich are being followed. Thank you for your hospitality and loyalty to the USCK.


Just one more bit of humor: It took longer to unload the F150 than it did to load it. As I edit this article I am devouring some of these sundry items. Yum!


SHOCHUGEIKO 2017

by Don Schmidt, Renshi

By now most of you have seen Okusan's thank you email which included the group picture and words describing her satisfaction with the entire event. Therefore, it will be difficult to explain any further the enjoyment of this year's Shochugeiko training and picnic. Perhaps the pictures attached below will convey how successful it was and help convey Okusan's joyous comments in her email.


To begin with, once again the weather was perfect. Check the prior articles after March 2012 and I believe that you will find that the weather has been exceptional for this time of year. The temperatures and humidity dropped from the previous day's weather providing us with perfect weather to train in the park. As I have mentioned before, perhaps someone is watching over Okusan and us.


The perfect weather does not mean that we did not sweat. Especially because Kyoshi Sherry Kembre led the first session of basics and once again she had the "pedal to the metal" as Hanshi would say. Basics are so important and hopefully the beginner to the veteran practitioner learned something about their individual technique. Remember that good basics results in good kata performance.

     

The second session was not easier because the black belts faced Kyoshi Kembre's enthusiasm during the next hour as she drilled us through some advanced kata. The kyu ranks were separated and trained under the leadership of Renshi Wes Ernest who not surprisingly had the pedal to the metal. If you put effort and enthusiasm into your training, you had to come away with some sense of accomplishment even if it was just surviving the first two hours.


The third session involved closer confrontation and focused on grabs, escapes and other self-defense tactics. Kyoshi Jerry Beshears led the black belts through bunkai applications of Shi Ho Wari and Shi Ho Hai emphasizing foot trapping and entering. Partners squared off and practiced applications designed to allow karateka to better understand and enjoy the kata. I was assigned to the kyu ranks and focused the training on applications from techniques they have repetitively done. For example, I had them practice wrist escapes using jodan uke, other wrist escapes, elbow techniques, utilizing holds they may encounter on the street like head locks, bear hugs, and hammer locks. I also had them practice some of the techniques Okusan used on Hanshi in the demonstration video on self-defense that is on our web page. They were told how important it is to breathe when under attack or duress.

     

The fourth session involved weapon training or kobudo. Shihan Bill Jansak led the black belts in sai training. They performed a beginner kata, which is actually pretty long, known as Tsuken Shitahaku No Sai. The kyu ranks were instructed by Renshi Eric Ford and myself. We taught U.S. Chito Kai bo kata known as Sakagawa No Kon Sho.


Before you knew it we were in our final session. The entire group formed two "spirit circles" during which the designated, alternating, leader in the center would demonstrate two or three basic techniques and the entire circle would follow with loud kiai and tremendous spirit without sacrificing basic technique.

I guess one could say that we came full circle from the beginning of the clinic!

     

Special thanks to Paul and Kathy Webster who worked on their grilling technique which culminated in hot burgers, dogs and metts and everyone who brought other food dishes, snacks and desserts. Thanks to our good friends who brought some of their students from other karate styles including Hanshi Dwight Holley from Cincinnati, Ohio, Kyoshi Melvin Lewis from Louisville, Kentucky, and Shihan Jeff Thompson from Northern Kentucky Karate Club.


USCK KUMITE ACTION

by Don Schmidt, Renshi

At the risk of writing the same old, same old, regarding the USCK hombu most faithful tournament competitors, I hope your interest is peaked as I report on the most recent tournament action in Louisville, Kentucky at the Shotokan tournament hosted this year by Sensei David Edwards. Sensei Edwards has a dojo in Charleston, Indiana and is associated with Hanshi Dwight Holley of Cincinnati and Shihan Melvin Lewis of Louisville.

On June 10, 2017, the USCK hombu traveled to Louisville. Meiyo Hanshi Dometrich, Kyoshi Kembre and myself attended the tournament. Kyoshi Kembre acted as a coach for competitors Cage and Bailey Spicer. I served as a referee and judge. Hombu student Cynthia Rutherford came to observe on her fellow karateka or maybe she was scoping out the action.

Cage and Bailey competed in team kata against several teams and took home the gold medal in this category. Like last year, they were synchronized like a well-oiled machine. They flowed together, kicked and punched as one and smoothly transitioned through the movements of Seisan kata.


Cage and Bailey for the first time competed in the individual kobudo category. They did quite well considering that they began working on Sakagawa No Kon Sho about a month ago. The irony is that the judges had trouble figuring out which was better because they tied during the first round. In their rematch for the silver medal, they tied again. Therefore, the judges had to vote by flag who they believed was the silver medal winner. The flags were split evenly. The referee's vote broke the tie and Bailey edged out her brother who won the bronze.

     

Individual kata resulted in the same as last year as Cage won the gold and Bailey won the silver. They perform an excellent Seisan kata and are a joy to watch.

     

The results of individual kumite were almost the same as last year. Bailey had her mitts full of a feisty, black belt and it took her three matches (double elimination) to defeat Bailey who ended up with the silver medal. Cage won the gold medal again in his group of competitors.


United States Chito-kai Hanshi Dometrich 5th Memorial Seminar

John F. Wellbrock, Renshi

On March 18, 2017, the U.S.Chito-kai Karate Organization held the 5th Memorial Seminar in honor of William Dometrich, Hanshi at the Radisson Hotel in Covington, Kentucky.

The event was attended by numerous karateka from several U.S. Chito-ryu dojos, and students and friends from the Northern Kentucky Karate Club. Many of those in attendance were also members of the Dai Nippon Budoku Kai.

Sherry Kembre, Kyoshi led the seminar and chose excellent Sensei to assist in the instructions.

     

Sensei Bill DeGrezio led the warm ups, and really got everyone stretched out and ready to train. He followed with a round of solid basics. Eric Ford, Renshi followed with and in-depth analysis of the basic principles of front, side, round house and back kicks. Shihans Lawrence Hawkins, III and Paul Knecht shared their insights on several kumite drills. Next, there was a section dedicated to training on some of Dometrich, Hanshi's favorite Kata.

     

The seminar ended with several circles of karateka doing vigorous repetitions of basic kihon drills, led by the senior Black Belts, as a spirit building exercise.


During each break period, Kyoshi Kembre shared stories and memories about Hanshi that were written by several of the seminar participants.

Barbara Dometrich, Meiyo Hanshi, as always, oversaw the entire program of events.

     

Saturday evening there was a gathering at the Hombu dojo for a pot luck dinner. It was a wonderful opportunity to discuss the day's training, to share food and stories, to make new friends and to visit old ones.

Thank you to all the karateka who helped make the day a great success. The organizers, the leaders, the teachers, and the banquet assistants who all gave of their time and talents.

A special thanks goes out to every karateka who trained hard and gave their best efforts. I'm sure Dometrich, Hanshi was watching and would be pleased and proud of each and every one of you.


Hanshi Dometrich 5th Memorial Clinic

Theresa C. Brandenburger, San Dan

On March 18th, 2017, the Hanshi Dometrich 5th memorial clinic was held at the Radisson in Covington, KY. Kyoshi Sherry Dometrich opened the clinic with remembering Hanshi, her dad, Wm J. Dometrich, Hanshi. She explained that in the kata's there are hidden techniques of Chito-ryu kata, and talked about how important kata is.

Sensei Bill DiGrezio, started with warm ups. After about an hour, we all were ready for a break and our gi's were dripping with sweat. Sensei DiGrezio, you did a great job.

Renshi Ford worked drills with kicks. Front, side back and combinations of kicks working with the bags to make target awareness. Renshi Ford had everyone on the floor to show how your foot should be placed before and after a kick and also he talked about the position of the knee. Very important information. Renshi Ford is fabulous on teaching kicks and the technology of them.

Shihan Lawrence Hawkins, III was teaching different forms of 3 step sparring. Very interesting and very controlled. Side stepping, backing up with side steps, and target awareness which again is very important. Great job Shihan Hawkins.


Then there was the three rings of training in which one student or teacher would be in the middle doing a technique and the others would have to repeat the technique.


Kyoshi Dometrich read some letters that were written by some of the students of Hanshi on how Hanshi had influenced them in their life. Then before the closing of a great event, we all stood and did the 3 bonsai cheers.

To finish the day, at 6pm, all were invited to the Dojo for a potluck dinner and to talk about the day. A great time was had by all, and a big thank you goes out to Okusan for all her hard work. Thank you Okusan.


Kangeiko 2017

S. David Hickenlooper
Yoseikan Anderson Karate School

"Seiryoku Zenyo" was the underlying philosophy of Kangeiko 2017. Renshi Wellbrock introduced us to this saying Friday night after dinner as we were getting ready to go to sleep. Meaning "maximum efficiency, with minimal effort," the practical purpose of this philosophy was to get us to focus on technique, not strength. This would force us to, as Renshi Wellbrock pointed out, "unlearn all that we had learned." This was particularly true for me having played sports that favored strength over finesse most of my life.

This began with our warmups and initial drills. Shihan Messinger was observing all of us and ensuring we had proper form. This is the foundation of good technique. Whether it was the stance, movement, blocks, proper form was demanded from all. He also pointed out how much more powerful the efficient punch, kick, block, etc. was over one that relied on the strength of the individual. Shihan Messinger also noted how we, as Westerners, have a tendency to "live" with our Tanden in our chests and approach our karate (and probably many other things) with too much muscle.

As Kangeiko progressed through to early hours of Saturday morning, we began to focus on a single kata, Seisan, the same kata O'Sensei practiced for seven years. Seisan was pointed out to be a beautiful kata. It is. What we really were learning, though, was the use of technique over muscle through the kata. While Seisan has many parts that are powerful, the power should be generated by the use of technique, maximum efficiency through minimal effort.

At one point, each of us performed Seisan individually in front of the entire group. After which, we were critiqued by everyone, regardless of rank. When my turn came I was still using too much muscle, not enough technique. We had been told the use of technique is really in the mind not the body, however, this is the point at which I really started to make the connection. Even two weeks after I am still having epiphanies about what I learned at Kangeiko.

Little by little it dawned on me that we are doing as much, if not more, mental exercise as physical. It seems there is some degree of ego associated with using strength over technique. For me, I don't want to put words in anybody else's mouth, if one can lessen the control the ego has, the easier it is to focus on technique. The same idea of technique over strength was applied with the practice of wrist releases and the Bunkai of Chokusen.

     

Kangeiko culminated with a run, tea, and pictures. Followed by a wonderful breakfast.


All of us owe a special thank you to Okusan for holding Kangeiko, opening the Hombu to us, and continuing this tradition. Thanks is also owed to Sensei Bill DiGrezio who assisted in the instruction. Additionally, thanks to Renshi Gerald Meade, Shihan Shawna Lingo, Kathy and Paul Webster, Shihan Kevin Drummond who cooked a magnificent dinner, breakfast and lent support behind the scenes.

While Kangeiko 2017 had fewer participants than years past, those who participated upheld the tradition proudly. Traditions are what allow any organization to continue to exist and thrive. Without tradition, we would simply be making things up as we go, repeating the same mistakes and failing to utilize what has been successful. The smaller number also allowed for greater bonding that may not have been possible in a large group. I know this was particularly true for my son, Smith, and I. Kangeiko is one of the events that serves to uphold the traditions of the U.S. Chito Kai. My son and I are proud to have been a part of it.


USCK NATIONAL SEMINAR 2016

By: Don Schmidt, Renshi

Another successful celebration of Tsuyoshi Chitose's birthday occurred on October 14 and 15, 2016 because of the preparation and planning by Okusan Dometrich. The success of the event is not surprising because she has been organizing this event as well as other events for years. Yet, each year the event has its unique individualistic planning and complications arise which prevents the event from being an automatic repeat of prior years. As the late Hanshi Dometrich always said, the United States Chito Kai would not exist if it were not for Okusan. The underlying purposes of the event is to celebrate our O-sensei's birthday and to gather as a family to share training time and practice Chito-ryu as Hanshi Dometrich trained us.

     

On Friday night we held our National Test Board for those wishing to test for the ranks of ik kyu through yon dan. This year's test board consisted of Kyoshi Lawrence Hawkins, Kyoshi Sherry Dometrich Kembre, Renshi Don Schmidt, Shihan Kevin Drummond, and Shihan Willie Elliott. The test committee consisted of Renshi John Wellbock, Renshi Gerald Meade, and Renshi Eric Ford and Shihan Shawna Lingo acted as Secretary. Students demonstrated to the test board their knowledge of Chito-ryu by performing drills consisting of kihon, kumite and kata. After the dust settled, the following earned promotions: Eric Ernest, Hombu-yon dan; Alex and Sandra Pacak Yoseikan II-san dan; Richard Rike, Crozet Yoseikan-san dan; Reggie Ward, Ft. Bragg Yoseikan-ni dan; Shawn Brown, Hombu-sho dan; Steven Smith Coleman, Ft. Bragg Yoseikan-sho dan; Matt Cowherd, Hombu-sho dan; Guy Kaiser, Yoseikan Anderson-sho dan; David Hickenlooper, Yoseikan Anderson-ik kyu. Special merit was noticeable by Matt Cowherd, who actually tested for ik kyu, and Eric Ernest who is in the U.S. Army, but comes to hombu and trains at Crozet Yoseikan when time allows.


On Saturday morning, members of the Shihan Kai met to review and discuss organizational matters. After requesting that the USCK co-founder and Chair Okusan step out of the room, an unprecedented motion was tabled that the Shihan kai consider promoting Okusan to the rank of hachi (8th) dan. There is no organizational rule or policy for the Shihan Kai to follow and rank promotions have never been voted on by the Shihan Kai. The Chief Advisor for the USCK and Chairman Emeritus USCK, Lawrence Hawkins, Kyoshi, supported the motion and those present agreed to announce at the banquet that we felt her deserving of the rank hachi dan. Minimally, Okusan knows more about the martial arts than most know, her character is beyond reproach, she continues to run the USCK very successfully, she determines to promote members above the rank of go dan, she determines who has earned titles and, perhaps most importantly, she continues in her quest to spread Chito-ryu karatedo in the manner that made and continues to make her late husband proud.

     

Kyoshi Kembre developed the agenda for the training to keep the entire group together. Shihan Jansak led the portion of the training emphasizing basics. As usual, we had visitors from other styles including special guest Sensei Joe Gonzalez, Hanshi Dwight Holley, Kyoshi Melvin Lewis, Shihan Jeff Thompson, Renshi Almonte Covington, Sensei Monice Covington, Sensei Michael Rodriguez and several other Shotokan practitioners. The kata session was led by Kyoshi Kembre and involved all. If you knew the kata, you stayed on the training deck. Unique to this session was the yielding the training deck to Shotokan karateka who performed Shotokan kata under Sensei Holley's guidance and usually in conjunction the Chito-ryu kata previously performed. This enabled all to see the nuances and similarities of the styles. Sensei Gonzalez provided insightful kumite applications during his session. During the fourth session, the group was divided down the middle and Renshi Schmidt and Renshi Meade taught han ten ho and rin ten ho.


The training culminated in the forming of three circles. Because of their experience with the "spirit circles" one was led by Renshi John Wellbrock, one was led by Shihan Jansak and one was led by Shihan Lingo. Their role was to keep the karateka high spirited through continued, simple combinations as led by the fortunate yudansha selected to take center circle. The circles are designed to create unity, demonstrate good technique, fill the building with kia, make you sweat, and test your endurance. In short, we rocked.

The training ended and the karateka provided bonzai cheer to O-Sensei.

The Saturday night cocktail hour and dinner came as fast as usual. Thanks to Mike Shaefer again, tickets for a beautiful knife were sold and we raised $450.00 to be given in Hanshi's name during the walk for Parkinson's cure. The lucky winner was Rick Hagedorn, husband to Sensei Erin Hagedorn of Crozet Yoseikan. The dinner was delicious as always. Shihan Tony DiTerlizzi provided a marvelous rendition of the year in review. Okusan presented rank certificates to last year's successful karateka who passed their test. She also announced that Renshi Meade and Renshi Ford were promoted to roku dan. Shihan Wes Ernest received the title Renshi. Okusan issued Shihan titles to Carol Hayes, Kathy and Ron Emery and Paul Knecht who train at Yoseikan II. Various awards were presented to those for their contribution and effort throughout the year.


Finally, the moment came to announce the Shihan kai's decision to promote Okusan. Kyoshi Kembre had the honor to tell her mom that she was promoted to hachi dan. The room erupted with thunderous applause as all stood to give her a well-deserved standing ovation. Kyoshi Kembre informed everyone that she was sure that her father would approve and support the decision to elevate the backbone of the USCK to hachi dan.

As it has been said, like the cherry blossom, everything was perfect.


AUDRA 2016

By: Matt Cowheard

I was finally able to block out my work schedule enough in advance, allowing me to attend the annual Audra State Park Chito-Ryu seminar on August 6th, 2016. It also happened to be the first time this year that my wife Lindsey, our two boys, Perrin (7) and Samuel (3), and myself were getting to go camping, so we were all gearing up for great weekend! For the past couple years, I'd missed out, but been jealous with anticipation after hearing tales of workouts, grill outs, the beauty of Audra State Park, and the Middle Fork River running through it. Now we were in our Enclave, packed full of supplies, heading east through Kentucky on 32, at the beginning of our 5 hour road trip to West Virginia!


The drive went by faster than expected and before we knew it we were crossing an old covered bridge into the park as our cell phone service became nonexistent, severing us from the hustle and bustle of everyday life back home, and leaving us undisturbed in nature for the next 48 hours. The campsites were easy to find, as were our fellow karate-ka neighbors. We were directed into our site by Sensei Schmidt and started to unload, but with the threat of rain on the horizon, Sensei Schmidt, DiTerlizzi, and Messinger leapt into action, helping us assemble our brand new tent as well as erecting a tarp above it, offering extra protection from the impending rain. Truthfully, the lion's share of the work was done by them. It was quite impressive and more importantly kind, selfless, and courteous, setting the tone for what was to be a wonderful weekend. Our little "neighborhood" consisted of Sensei Schmidt, Meade, Ernest, DiGrezio and his 6 year old son Liam, Sensei Lingo and her teenage daughter Sammi, a Ni Kyu, and Sensei Messinger with his dog, a male Weimaraner named Shadow. A short time later, everyone went to meet Okusan, some of her family from New York and a few others for dinner at the Hillbilly Grill, a local restaurant. With daylight still to burn, the Cowherds stayed behind, making good use of the river and the inner tubes loaned to us. And thanks to the use of Sensei Schmidt's hot plate and Sensei Lingo's delicious chicken fajitas (topped with a little guacamole), we had a wonderful, Mexican evening "at home"! We were even witnesses to a thieving squirrel, pilfering a sugar cookie from Sensei Schmidt's campsite. Little bugger opened the box, swiped (at least) one whole cookie, and then scaled his tree! After a little more playing in the river and the sand, everyone else returned and gathered around the campfire, chatting. One by one, individuals shuffled off to bed, closing out the night around 10 p.m., "quiet time" in the campground.

     

The rain made good on its threat and poured on the campsites in the early morning, but by rise and shine, the majority of it had passed, save a few sprinkles. The earliest risers of the group shared in a family style, campsite, bacon and egg breakfast, while the lighter eaters (and later sleepers) nibbled on granola bars and fresh fruit. With a little time to spare before the event started, we walked along the river rocks. A short time later, we got into our gi and headed down the road to the grassy workout area, while back at the campsite, Lindsey and the 3 youngsters would begin to have adventures of their own. Gradually, everyone arrived. As is the norm, several Chito-Ryu karate-ka, representing dojo from New York, Kentucky, West Virginia and more, were in attendance, and after combing the field for sticks, trash, and critter poo, we lined up as Kyoshi Hawkins bowed us in. From under a tent off to the side of the field, Okusan, Kathy and Paul Webster, Noriko Rossi and other parents and friends spectated as Sensei Drummond got us underway, warming up with some stretching and a few passes through San Ju Waza. The warm up was followed by some polish and guidance from Kyoshi Hawkins including commentaries on technique uniformity throughout our Chito-Ryu organization. We had a small break, during which we stumbled upon and angered a hive of ground bees. With only one sting so far, we shifted to a safer spot in the field to continue and Kyoshi Kembre ran us through most all of the kata starting at Taikyoku Ichi and working our way up to Chinto and other Black belt kata. We did each kata at least twice, tweaking each time we did it by the count, and stressing timing and staying together as a group when left to do it by one count. I was pleased to have Sensei DiTerlizzi and Lingo offer me some helpful criticism between some of the katas, polishing my technique a bit. Luckily, only a few stings were doled out by the angry insects. I was one of the unlucky few, but during our second break, I learned from Sensei Rike about the juice of the Plantain plant's crushed leaves and how effective it is on stings. There's always something to be learned, even from a bee sting. Sensei Schmidt then worked us on the Sakugawa No Kon Sho and its individual techniques. After another small break and a group picture, Sensei Messinger rounded out the event with some lessons on being smooth and using smart techniques as opposed to using muscle, stopping a full power haymaker punch, evaluating an opponent, and dropping an assailant with as little as two fingers. He also stressed the importance of practicing our best technique at all times. In a real situation, you may only have one opportunity to react and one technique to do it with, so it had better be nothing shy of 100%. Finally, Kyoshi Hawkins bowed us out and we packed up and headed back to the camps to get cleaned up and prepare for the grill out.


Sensei DiGrezio and I went to the beach area across the way, where our boys and Lindsey had been playing in the river and then we all walked back to the campsites, through the park, meeting up with Sensei Schmidt along the way. As the Websters, Cindy Drummond and the Sensei assembled the grill and the smorgasbord of food, the rest of us had fun playing in Middle Fork River, riding the rapids again on the inner tubes, and trying to keep the kids distracted from the sounds of Tex's Ice Cream truck rolling by. Showers were taken and the overwhelming, delicious dinner spread was served as we all found a spot to sit amongst friends, new and old, sharing all variety of stories as we ate. Afterwards a group of us went over to the playground to watch the kids romp and play horseshoes as it got dark, and returned in time to bid Kyoshi Hawkins, Okusan and everyone else not camping "Adieu" for the evening. Our boys were pretty worn out, and as the campsites quieted down, Perrin, our eldest, went to sleep in the tent. The remaining crew gathered around the central fire and chatted about the day. I really enjoyed when Sensei Messinger asked everyone gathered around, from Sammi Lingo to Sensei Schmidt, to name one thing they'd take home from the seminar that day. It was as interesting for me to hear and learn from other's responses, as I'm sure it was for Sensei Messinger himself, and probably why he asked in the first place. Then around 9pm, Liam bowed out and I got out my guitar. I played and sang over the next hour or so.

The next morning the campsites were busy with everyone packing, gathering and cleaning up in preparation for heading to our next destination. From above our tent we returned Sensei Messinger's tarp that he'd been so gracious to lend and said our goodbyes as everyone trickled out. Lindsey, myself and the boys packed our backpack for a morning hike. We walked down to the beach area and followed the trail through the woods, along Middle Fork River for quite some time before turning back. It'd been quite an adventure, but now it was time to dismantle our tent, pack our car and head out. Lindsey made some sandwiches for the road while I packed up the tent and Enclave, and soon we were driving back across that covered bridge, the doorway back into the world, and heading west through Kentucky on 32 for our 5 hour trek home.

     

Audra Park is a beautiful landscape peppered with the soothing sounds of nature and a myriad of critters. It is immense and tranquil, the perfect spot for a Chito-Ryu event, and camping weekend with a group of friends. The campground was fantastic in our little "neighborhood" with the Middle Fork River to the south of our tents and the playground, office and facilities, conveniently on the other side. Before we left, Lindsey already wanted to plan to arrive a day earlier and stay a day later in 2017. One of the many facets of our Chito-Ryu organization that I love is the feeling of family, friendship and respect or courtesy that encompasses the atmosphere, be it at the dojo on a Saturday morning with three students, Audra Park with thirty karate-ka, or our larger events in March and October. Everyone is so eager to share technique or food or a story, sometimes before an introduction! It is comfortable. New acquaintances are made and older friendships season a bit more, strengthening our Chito-Ryu family. I am reminded of a passage from Hanshi's book at his San Kyu test where Ito-san said to him, "We not tomodachi (friends), we kyodai (brothers)."


USCK KUMITE ACTION

By: Don Schmidt, Renshi

On July 30, 2016, the USCK traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to support our friend Kyoshi Melvin Lewis' karate tournament. Kyoshi Lewis practices Shotokan karate and has been a friend of the USCK for many years. He, along with several of his students, have attended our events over the years. Congratulations to Kyoshi Lewis who has been involved in tournaments since 1975 and for sponsoring his last tournament. He is a man of good bushido and has always ran good tournaments.

Meiyo Hanshi Dometrich, Kyoshi Kembre, Renshi Wellbrock and myself attended the tournament. Kyoshi Kembre acted as a coach for competitors Cage and Bailey Spicer who train at the hombu. Renshi Wellbrock and I served as judges. Shihan Hawkins III brought his daughter Leah to the tournament to compete in kata. Shihan Petty appeared to cheer on Cage and Bailey who he taught before his school in Covington came to an abrupt halt several years ago.

Cage and Bailey competed in team kata against a pair of black belts. They were synchronized like a well-oiled machine and won the gold medal. As brother and sister they flowed together, kicked and punched as one and smoothly transitioned through the movements of Seisan kata. Priceless! At least their parents did not have to listen to their kids gripe to one another how the other messed up during the drive home.

     

Cage and Bailey did not let their guard down. As brown belts, they were in the same division and competed against each other in kata competition. Now they went head-to-head and they both performed Seisan. Their concentration and vigorous application placed them first and second. Cage's performance topped Bailey's on this day.

Perhaps it was good that Cage and Bailey were in different kumite divisions to avoid the brother/sister drama that could have made the ride home a bit exciting for their parents. Bailey, as a newly promoted brown belt, had to kumite black belts in her age group. Bailey was undaunted by this challenge because she regularly works her magic on the taller, elder black belts at the hombu. Cage's division consisted of brown belts. Well, they both won a gold medal.

     

They had more gold around their necks than Mr. T.

I was a judge in Cage's and Bailey's ring so I had the best seat as I watched them represent the USCK. Just before their match, the tournament officials decided to use the WKF scoring system and rules to be used during the Olympics in Tokyo. I believe it is referred to as happon kumite which is 8 point match. Briefly, any punch or combination of punches is a full point and called a yuko; a kick to the torso is two points and called a wazari; and any kick to the head is 3 points and called an ippon. My limited Japanese has taught me that by definition wazari means half point and ippon means one full point. I am not sure how the word yuko fits into the counting system.

Tournaments are a good way to polish your skills and to determine what scores and what does not score. More importantly you can meet new friends. Some days you may not turn out as good as you may have hoped and yet other days you might be on top of your game. What is important is that you practice good bushido and do your best and you will always be proud of your actions.

SPIRIT IN THE SKY - SHOCHUGEIKO 2016

By: Don Schmidt, Renshi

Maybe some of you noticed the soaring red-tailed hawk right above our training area during our summer training at Big Bone Lick State Park. It made several passes. Initially, the hawk was brought to my attention by a fellow karateka who I know was thinking the same thing that I thought. My belief is that the spirit of those we loved that have departed this world are nearby watching over us. Needless to say, some cultures place a high respect on soaring birds like hawks. I immediately concluded that Hanshi Dometrich's spirit was in that hawk or his eyes were one with the hawk's eyes. A quick wink to my fellow friend and back to focusing on the training before the hawk gave me a friendly reminder to pay attention to the training. I do know that Hanshi would have been proud to see that the USCK is going strong and carrying on his wishes.

We had great weather once again. The humidity dropped from the previous days and the temperature was in the low 80's. All that sweating and training in the hombu in hotter and more humid conditions made this 5 hour training session seem like a cake walk. But first, we had to survive Kyoshi Kembre's first hour of nonstop drills. If that hawk was aloft during this session along with Hanshi's spirit, it likely was grinning proudly watching his daughter make us sweat. As Hanshi would say, better to sweat on the deck than to bleed in the street.

     

Several instructors were involved in teaching the break-out groups that followed the first hour of training. Kyoshi Hawkins ran through Seisan kata with the black belts. Shihan Jansak taught black belts Sakagawa No Kon Sho as well as a two person bo drill called Bo Tai Bo. Renshi Ford and I taught green and brown belts basic bo concepts and Sakagawa No Kon Sho. Renshi Wellbrock taught green belts Kihon No Empi and Shi Ho Ware. Shihan Ernest taught orange belts their Taikyoku kata requirements. Shihan Hawkins III taught Ni Sei Shi kata to brown and green belts. During the final hour several instructors were involved in teaching wrist escapes (Te Ho Doki) and knife and gun defenses to their assigned group: Kyoshi Kembre and Shihan Lingo had a group of students, Renshi Meade had a group, Shihan Hawkins had a group and I had a group.


As the training was nearing the end, once again Grill Master Paul Webster and his assistant Kathy Webster were working their magic on the grills. Every event has a host of people who help Okusan orchestrate these functions. The event was awesome and the comradery during the picnic was tremendous. Renshi Ford demonstrated courage by challenging the youth during the water balloon fight.

Many thanks to all who participated, brought food and helped to clean up afterwards.

Kyoto 2016

By: Barbara E. Dometrich, Meiyo Hanshi
     

17 members of the Midwest Di Nippon Butoku Kai traveled to Kyoto Japan April 24th thru April 30th to attend the Fifth World Butoku Sai.

One of the highlights for me was watching my daughter Kyoshi Sherry Kembre perform Seisan at the opening of the Seiryuden, it was a proud moment for me and I am sure her father was watching over her.

Many things stood out, I have attended four of the World Butoku Sai in Kyoto, missing in 2012 when my husband passed away. It was a packed week of events and meetings, however there was some down time to shop and visit temples and just soak up the culture. As I had been there on four occasions it was enjoyable to experience the excitement of those that had never been at one of these events or had ever visited Japan.

When the Butoku sai was over on April 30th, eight members of our group extended our stay for three days to sightsee and more shopping.

     

Mr. and Mrs. Morita brother of Mark Morita who lived at the Honbu for 35 years, Mark passed away in 2013. The Morita's live in Tokyo, they came to Kyoto and took all eight of us to a dinner in honor of Mark. Here we are in Japan, and they took us to a Chinese restaurant, they said it was his favorite.

It was a long trip and packed with adventure, many are hoping to attend the 6th Butoku Sai in 2020.


Kyoto 2016

By: Don Schmidt, Renshi

Our 2016 DNBK seminar in Kyoto came and went rather hastily. There is truth to the adage "there is no place like home", but I am ready to go back to Kyoto even though I have made the trek four times since 2002. The aroma, the scenery, the history, the budo and the camaraderie is not easy to let go as I have returned to my normal life-style at home.

     

Sensei Kembre, Ford, DiTerlizzi, Lingo, Levin, DiGrezio, Ward and myself made up the USCK demonstration team. Okusan, Kathy Webster, Noriko Rossi and Sensei Levin's wife Lisa also took advantage of the Kyoto experience. I enjoyed training and demonstrating with the team as well as shopping, touring and the other activities we shared. I particularly enjoyed participating in the excitement of the newbies as we began the DNBK/Kyoto experience together.

     

Unlike 2012, most of the cherry blossoms had finished their season, but the azalea were in full bloom displaying their majestic beauty as were a few latent cherry blossoms. Incense filled the air at the numerous temples and shrines. Some were repeat visits from prior years, but just as enjoyable as the previous visits. There is so much to see and do in Kyoto. I was amazed at the temples and shrines that I was near in past years, but never discovered them. There still remains, numerous areas of the city to explore in the future.

We performed our demonstration in the Butokuden in front of a princess which was a first. Not that there is enough tension when getting on the Butokuden deck, but a member of the emperor's family? Everyone on our team wanted to do their best so we did. Just like a rank test; we cinched up our belts, paid no attention to the viewers and completed our task at hand. Our fortitude was also tested by the cool, rainy day which was augmented by a stiff breeze. Okay, it was damn cold and I was craving warmth, but USCK members stayed in position and watched the performances. I think Hanshi's spirit was aloft in the breeze as it whirled through the Butokuden.

Sensei Kembre, Kyoshi, had the privilege to perform during an opening ceremony at the newly erected (2011) Seiryuden temple. Seiryuden resembles a miniature Butokuden and Jiko Higashifushimi, Sosai of DNBK, is the abbot of this facility as well as the Shorenin temple. Spectacular views of Kyoto were enjoyed from this hill located on a ridge behind the Miyako Westin. This was the official budo dedication of the Seiryuden.

The DNBK training and entertainment were very good. The karate section I was in with Sensei Kembre involved learning bunkai for the kata Saifa. The main instructor was Goju-ryu and assisted by his daughter who had very good basic technique. We also participated in a kobudo clinic. The entertainment after one dinner consisted of taiko drums and traditional Japanese stringed instruments. A choral group sang after the closing dinner. Once again, the entire DNBK function was worth the expense.

Mitsuo Morita, brother to the late Masao or "Mark", came from Tokyo to visit with Okusan and his friends. I was glad to see him and his wife again. He treated his friends to a wonderful dinner consisting of Masao's favorite dishes.

My most cherished memories of the trip are: our friendship, Shorenin at night, Kyoto, and the Miyako rooftop.


Kyoto 2016

By: Reggie Ward
     

Something Missing

I finally made it! I'm done flying for 7 days, 1-1/2 hours. From Raleigh, NC to Toronto, CA, then 12 long hours to Japan. I was so happy in knowing that I didn't have to do this again for a week and I really needed to stretch my back and legs a bit. Once I made it past the baggage claim doors I saw a gentleman in a dark suit holding a sign with four big block letters: "DNBK". As I approached him he smiled then asked if I was DNBK? "Hai", I replied and a lady was there with him as well. She had a list of names. Most of the names were lined out. Maybe 4-5 names were not. She asked if I was USA. "Yes", I answered and with a smile and a great deal of effort she asked "You Mr. War?" I gave her a smile and said "yes". "Ok, please have a seat. We will be leaving in a moment." I sat down thinking I'm in Japan, and that's so cool! About five minutes passed and I started to have this feeling that I'm missing something. Passport...ok, credit cards, drivers license, military ID, all good. So what is it that I don't HAVE?! I was sitting there watching people leave baggage claim and then it hit me: OMG, I forgot to get my luggage after leaving the plane and there was no way that I could to go back though baggage claim. Thankfully, there was someone there who could go back and get my luggage for me and just in time too, the shuttle bus was loading up. What a way to start my first trip to Japan. I hadn't made it out of the airport yet and I just had a mini panic attack!

Buns of Steel

At the start of the Budo Seminar, we lined up "Chito-Ryu, USA". Holding our banner: Kyoshi Sherry Dometrich Kembre, Renshi Don Schmidt, Renshi Eric Ford, Shihan Tony DiTerlizzi, Renshi Shawna Lingo, Gordon Levin, Bill DiGrezio, and myself Reggie Ward. After every nation was present and accounted for, we received a welcome and greeting speech form Tesshin Hamada, Hanshi a very enthusiastic, bold and elegant speaker. He just doesn't talk the talk, he walks it too! He then introduced the DNBK Honbu Board of Directors and then the instructors along with what style they train in. I think there were a couple of demonstrations after Mr. Hamada's words, perhaps not; the days went in a blur. At some point we were grouped by Dan rank. I was the only Sho Dan from our group, and the Sho Dan group was quite large. We had four instructors; the tallest was maybe 5'-11". He was the oldest and the boss. I had no idea what anyone's Dan rank was, and it was really of no importance anyway since I was there to learn. I was thinking I'm not sure if we will be learning a physical technique, how to move, how to breathe or perhaps something less tangible. Maybe I'll learn how to focus, how to dream or maybe how to live. Oh well, I'll find that out sooner or later! The other three instructors were about my size in height, about 5'-9". We started out with light stretching and the focus of the training was Basics. A review of stances was first up followed by punching. Two things I found surprising: first was how high the fist was placed at the side, very high up on the rib cage. I had a problem keeping my fist that high and had to be adjusted a couple of times, but what was really surprising to me was the stance we were in, shiko dachi, a natural stance for me and a few others, but most were really having a problem locking in and locking down. I try to feel the back of my heels, base of my neck and tailbone in-line. Next up was kicking. Special attention being made by the smallest of our Yudansha on use of the hip to penetrate through the target and not sweeping up on the front kick and using the ball of the foot as the striking surface with the toes pulled back. "Toes to the nose" my teacher is fond of saying. After kicking drills were finished we moved back to stances and we worked this one pretty good, a lot longer than the first round. Everyone was instructed to step forward in Sanchin dachi. Right or left side didn't matter. Each instructor went around checking stability, balance and ki by slapping down on the shoulders, kicking the thighs and light taps on the belly and chest. My turn, a young karateka stopped in front of me and said "Sanchin". "Hai" I replied. My right foot forward in my best sanchin and double-block with the hands trying to fall in the stance. Sensei looked at my body in thirds; my right side, left side and then the middle. He kicked the inside of both feet motioning for me to step forward. He hit my shoulders pretty good, he slapped my butt and then my thighs then he stepped back and said "Good. Ok." Sensei then took a step closer and waved his index finger as to make a special point about something. He turned his back to me. His right foot was forward in Sanchin and then he started speaking to us (none of our instructors spoke English and there was only one Japanese speaker in our group and he was being pulled everywhere) but you could still understand the points he was making. He started pushing his hands down making striking gestures to his shoulders, hips and butt and he looked over his shoulder at me. Ok...I got it...he wants me to hit him, so I do, and when I hit him that young man turned and faced me and gave me the "LOOK". We all know what the look is. We get it from our parents, teachers and wives. He said something in a low but angry voice. Now the rest of the teachers and students from our group are watching us. Well in about 5 seconds we are going to find out if I interpreted Sensei's actions properly. I struck down on his shoulders, hit his calves and then his hips. Ok, here we go, I took both hands and slapped his butt and I think he wanted me to give him a little squeeze so I did. OMG! Hard ass! LOL! "WOW", was all I could say. I didn't think that you could make your butt that hard. Sensei faced me once more and said (waving his finger again) "Good Sanchin" while pushing his palms down again. I said "Low". The youngest of the four senseis said "Hai. Low. Hai". That reminded me of something I hear often from my teacher: "Mind and body low".

The one moment that stands out the most for me was the performance by a Frenchman as he performed kata without his teacher who was his partner for the demonstration. From what I understand, his teacher passed away suddenly and to honor his teacher, he performed alone. He was to my right, in front and I had a very good look at him. There were maybe four other teams on the Butokuden floor, but I promise you, most eyes were fixed on the Frenchman! It was a jiu-jitsu demo I believe, and the way he was able to bend and twist his wrist as if he was being controlled and do the break falls as if he was being thrown. It was a very powerful moment for me and one that I will never forget.


More Kendo please. This was my first kendo match, although it was more like a short demonstration, but still very cool and more archery as well. One more thing, no more bento boxes!


Hanshi Dometrich's 4th Memorial Clinic

By: Don Schmidt, Renshi

On March 12, 2016, the USCK celebrated Hanshi Dometrich's life during our annual March clinic as we continue to support his wife and his karate organization. Once again Okusan planned and orchestrated this event keeping the tradition alive.

Kyoshi Kembre prepared the itinerary for this year's event. Members of the Shihan Kai were given assignments and the training began with tenacity. Kyoshi Kembre started off with basics emphasizing how important it is to have good technique especially good posture. Hanshi's spirit was guiding his daughter through her vigorous drills. Some of Hanshi's "hanshiisms" came to my mind like "if your nose is before your toes, it goes." "The better your basics are, the better your kata will be." Thus, always show good basics so whenever someone is watching you with legitimate karate knowledge, they will know that you come from a quality karate organization.


After the hour of basics, we were broken down into groups by rank. I was in a kumite session and the instructor talked about the importance of good posture as we engaged our partners. I could hear the instructor of the beginner students who were next to me tell them how important it was to have good posture and to breathe from their abdomen. Another hour passed and training continued with different instructors. I was assigned to practice with those who were going to Japan for a DNBK event. However, during a pause in our practice I heard the instructor across the room, who was teaching proper kicking technique, tell his group the importance of posture and breathing when kicking.


My hour of instruction followed. I was teaching the entire group Sanchin kata. I emphasized that breathing and posture are the most important elements to this kata. Before I knew it, my hour of instructing was over and the clinic was coming to an end. Time flies when you are having fun. We finished the clinic with Kyoshi Kembre leading the entire group through the kata created by her father-Chokusen.

In my opinion, breathing and posture are the most important physiology elements to our karate training. It was not rehearsed; nor did Kyoshi Kembre tell the instructors to emphasize posture. The theme came naturally as the instructors attempted to teach students how to improve their technique. Our power is generated from our hips, but without proper breathing from the abdomen in lieu of the chest our balance will be affected and our center of gravity is higher. Proper breathing will also improve your posture because your hips will come forward as your pelvis rotates back. We must practice these things diligently and continue to get better.


The training was over and we congregated back at the hombu where members of the USCK and their families and friends shared the bounty of food that once again was delicious. We are family and together we can carry out the traditions established by the founders of the USCK.