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.

"FIRSTS"

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."
(Shunryo Suzuki)
From the first night that my son Israel and I entered the Hombu we have been on a journey of "firsts" together. Life is full of firsts and our training in Chito-Ryu has been no different. For almost 4 years my son and I have been side by side growing as karateka and growing closer to each other as father and son. Now, not only do I get the opportunity to train with him, but I also get to train with my 2 daughters as well. Together we have endured the arduous training at the Hombu and stayed the course even when we were training from home for months via Zoom during the pandemic. It seems that our Chito-Ryu curriculum is excellent at producing "firsts" not only as a way of building perseverance, but also as a way of maintaining shoshin or "beginner's mind". Some time in my first year of training I think Sensei Matt Cowherd introduced me to the concept of shoshin and it has been with me ever since. This idea that we should keep the mental posture of a beginner bleeds over into everything new that we attempt. It helps to foster a sense of genuine humility and joy in everything. Trying new things becomes easier and less anxious.
Several months ago, Renshi Don Schmidt encouraged my son and I to compete in the Windy City karate tournament in Chicago. I was very anxious about entering a karate tournament in Chicago. Neither my son nor I had any concept of how it would be organized, the scale of the tournament, or the general skill level of the other competitors. About a week before the tournament my son and I were driving home one night from the dojo and he asked, "Dad, do you think it's going to be like the All-Valley Tournament in movie The Karate Kid?" Suffice it to say that it was nothing like fighting Cobra Kai, but it was a very worthwhile "first" to conquer together with my son. Together we were both beginners again. We were no longer brown belts. We would only be ranked by the quality of our training in competition with others. It was great!
My family and I drove to Chicago Friday afternoon and arrived at our hotel in time to spend the remainder of the evening relaxing before the big day. Kyoshi Sherry Schmidt was invited by host Joe Gonzalez to teach a segment of his two-hour clinic. Hombu student Pat O'Brien took the opportunity to participate in all the clinic segments. That evening, upon Renshi Schmidt's request, we ate Chicago deep dish pizza at Giordano's with Kyoshi Sherry and Renshi Don Schmidt, and Pat O'Brien. It was a late night, but their support and encouragement was greatly appreciated.
Saturday morning came quickly and before I knew it the Windy City Tournament was well under way. Renshi Schmidt started early and helped judge/referee the competition. My son Israel and I went with Edith and Elsa (my two daughters) to scope out the kids portion of the tournament. It was great to see my kids getting fired up and excited about certain competitors. It was equally interesting to see how our training has helped even my youngest daughter to understand and appreciate good karate and well executed techniques. We left after a few hours to get our gi and eat lunch. Israel, Pat O'brien, and I used the first hour after lunch to stretch, run through our team kata, and in general stay ready.
The tournament was running behind schedule by more than 2 hours when our competition numbers were called for team kata. Fortunately, we were able to watch several other teams bow in and run their kata before we were called to step out on the deck. Our team quickly adjusted to the changes and by the time Yoseikan Dojo was called up we had corrected many of the awkward parts to the bow-in. From the moment I announced "Seisan" the room felt like everyone stopped what they were doing, to watch our kata. It was awesome! I was so proud of our training and our dojo. I felt so grateful to be a beginner again competing in our first tournament. In the end we managed to come in second in team kata. We came in second to a team of black belts that were 10-20 years our senior.
Following team kata Israel, Pat, and I competed individually in kata. Again, it was thrilling to bow in and announce "Seisan" and make the room quiet. In a room full of Shotokan karateka it was a great opportunity to display the beauty of our style. Several times that day karateka from other dojo located in St. Louis, Madison Wisconsin, and Chicago came to ask me about our dojo or to say something encouraging! There was remarkable respect in the room. Israel and I both came in second in individual kata. Another incredibly proud moment was watching my son excel and do his best at something we both love so much!
Hours passed rather quickly even though by this time the event was running hours behind schedule. The commitment level in the room and the respect that was present as we were all waiting was invigorating to be a part of. Everyone was eagerly waiting for their "shot". Israel, Pat, and I all signed up to compete in Ippon Jiu Kumite. The tournament defined this differently than anything we previously trained in the dojo. Each karateka got one rando attack and one block and counter. Even though we had never trained this way before and were not prepared for this kind of competition Pat and I both did very well! Pat came in second and I came in first against some stiff competition. This style of random attack with a block and counter has quickly become one of my favorite drills to run in the dojo after the tournament! Israel competed as a 13-year- old against other karateka in his division who were 17. Needless to say as his father, I was praying he wouldn't need to fight against the 17-year-old who outweighed him by 50lbs. He learned a great deal and I am so proud that he was willing to "mix it up" with guys so much bigger than him!
After waiting patiently all day to compete in kumite the brown belt division was almost forgotten, but after some coaxing, they included us as the final competition. I must admit that at 43 I asked myself what I was doing in a karate tournament fighting other grown men, but it was worth it! I came in 2nd place in the brown belt division. Sensei Allen Renfro from Owensboro, KY said it was better karate than what he saw in the black belt division and Sensei Joe Gonzalez agreed! It was a humbling "first" experience as a beginner that we will never forget. Yoseikan dojo walked away with 8 medals in all and represented The U.S. Chito Kai very well in Chicago!
I want to be sure to thank Okusan, Kyoshi Sherry Schmidt, and Renshi Don Schmidt for coming to Chicago to coach us! I also want to thank them for training us so well! It was great to feel like a beginner again! Thank you for all of your sacrifice and hard work to pass the Chito-Ryu legacy on to us!
Rei,
John Paul McEwan

OKUSAN IS A LEGEND TOO!

by Don Schmidt, Renshi
I am taking this opportunity to provide Okusan her own byline about obtaining "legend" status. Hopefully, you read my June 17, 2022 article about how the legend Hanshi Dometrich is being enshrined in a museum in his hometown Clarksburg, West Virginia. That article mentioned how the curator was interested in enshrining Okusan in the museum once he learned that she too was a Clarksburg native and has her own fetes related to martial arts. On August 5, 2022 a group of us returned to Clarksburg with more artifacts to place in the museum.
Do not pack your travel vehicle just yet if you are only interested in seeing the display in the museum because as of now all you will see is the empty cabinet. This is a work in progress and it will take some time before the display is unveiled for public viewing. Kyoshi Sherry Schmidt spent the last two months refining the narrative and gathering more pictures/memorabilia for the display. We will keep you posted when the unveiling of the display occurs.
On August 5, Okusan, Kyoshi Schmidt, myself and two hombu students Montiel Rosenthal and Pat O'Brien met up with Yoseikan Anderson's bus containing Renshi Shawna Lingo and two of her students Sara White and Austin Pfenninger and headed to Clarksburg. On Friday evening, the museum curator hosted a fair in the main square to promote the museum so he asked Kyoshi Schmidt if we could do a demonstration. Our travel group coordinated with Shihan Kevin Drummond from Bridgeport Yoseikan who brought several of his students to the square and together we showed the crowd our Chito-ryu.
After the demonstration we had dinner and afterwards Shihan Michael Messinger invited all back to his spacious estate where we sat on his dock and had enjoyable conversation with each other, the swans and their cygnets.

SHOCHUGEIKO 2022

by Don Schmidt, Renshi
Shochugeiko 2022 took place at a different venue. We normally trained at Big Bone State Park which is located in a valley. This year we trained at Devou Park located high on a hill with splendid views of the cities below. Kyoshi Sherry Schmidt designed the commemorative shirt based on the panoramic, scenic view. One could say that we got closer to the sun for this extreme training clinic!
This year's weather forecast for Saturday, July 23, was no different than last year's prediction. Predicted were 97 degrees with humitures over 100 degrees. Of course, high heat predictions are always accompanied with warnings like stay in-doors, do not go out unless absolutely necessary, drink lots of fluids, keep an eye on the elderly, et al. These warnings and conditions certainly make USCK Shochugeiko participants aware that we are going to do for 4-5 hours what everyone is saying not to do. On Friday I drank more water than normal which awoke me 5 times during the night and made me ponder about all my hydration going down the drain.
Some decided that it is too hot for them to participate. It is meant to be extreme training to help participants overcome difficult situations; like getting jumped on the street. During, set up time at about 9, the sun was out, heat and humidity were rising and it was feeling like the training time was going to be rough. When training began, clouds began drifting in while Shihan Bill Jansak led the warm-up session. Shihan Jansak is a guru on stretching and focused our stretching on the muscle groups we were about to utilize the most. Sweat was already soaking into the gi.
Renshi Lawrence Hawkins III taught the second hour leading us through basics. He also introduced a drill based on San Ju Waza that involved moving in multiple directions, in different stances, rather than being stationary during the thirty techniques. The drill initially followed the embusen of our Taikyoku kata. Although we were not baking in the sun, the gi were getting wetter. The clouds began to get gray and a stronger breeze picked up which was a welcomed relief to those in gi and others not in gi who scurried to secure tent canopies. The breeze was really a wind gust and we were high on a hill. Shihan Shawna Lingo helped with the youth during this session.
Kyoshi Sherry Schmidt led our third session. By now it was storming across the Ohio River, but far enough away that lightening never posed an issue. It never rained on us either, but the wind kept blowing in the cooler air related to the storm occurring north of us. Kyoshi Schmidt led us through the Taikyoku kata as all ranks trained hard. Shihan Eric Ford took several beginner youth aside to help them with their kata when Kyoshi Schmidt advanced to kata they did not know. Kyoshi Schmidt continued to emphasize the importance of basic technique and by now gi were thoroughly drenched. At one point she mentioned that her wrist gadget indicated the temperature was 82 degrees. Obviously, not near as hot as all the expert forecasters on weather had predicted. From our vantage point we could see clearing occurring and the wind was subsiding. By the time her session was over the sun was out and the temperature was rising. She never repeated the temperature.
We made it to the last hour of training which I was assigned to teach a two person, kumite drill called Taikyoku Kumite Waza. As the name suggests, it is a partner drill derived from our Taikyoku kata. Since most were being introduced to this drill for the first time, the pace of training was a welcomed relief. This drill involves back and forth attacks, blocks, counters, culminating in victory for the initial defender. The principles of sen no sen, go no sen, distancing, are present in this drill.
At the conclusion of the clinic Meiyo Hanshi Barbara Dometrich, who is the Midwest Coordinator for the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai International Division, formally presented DNBK rank certification diploma to two visiting Shotokan practitioners from Louisville, Kentucky-Allan George Jr, Roku dan and Erin Grogan, San dan. DNBK protocol requires that these certificates be presented in person, in formal ceremonial fashion, directly to recipients of these prestigious DNBK certificates that contain the official crest/seal of the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai. They are officially signed: Sosai, (Governor of DNBK) Higashifushimi, Jiko (Sosai Seal); President, Board of Directors of DNBK, Hamada, Tesshin (President Seal). Thunderous applause erupted congratulating these individuals for their endeavor in budo.
We had a cook out and picnic directly following the clinic and presentations. Collectively, we socialized, cooled off, and enjoyed the comradery the event creates realizing that we survived the extreme training that was not as bad as everyone was concerned about. The setting was a perfect choice by Meiyo Hanshi Dometrich and I am looking forward to returning to the hill in Devou Park.

HANSHI IS A LEGEND!!!

by Don Schmidt, Renshi
Perhaps around 2005, Hanshi and Okusan were in a local bank. A customer saw Hanshi and exclaimed "I know you. You're a legend!" Hanshi was taken back by the comment because this was the first someone referred to him as a legend in public and he did not recognize the customer. When Hanshi reiterated the story to me, he was all laughs over the comment because he never thought of himself as a legend.
Well, thanks to Shihan Michael Messinger who knew someone in Clarksburg, West Virginia who was operating a museum in downtown Clarksburg, William J. Dometrich will be enshrined and, therefore, certainly fits the definition of a legend. The curator was looking to enshrine Clarksburg natives of interest in the museum so Sensei Messinger mentioned Hanshi and contacted Kyoshi Sherry Schmidt who in turn contacted the curator. Several phone calls later Kyoshi Schmidt was developing a timeline, gathering pictures, artifacts and whatever to present to the curator on the weekend of June 17, 2022. Keep in mind that Okusan just recently moved so most of her memorabilia were in crates somewhere in her home and two storage units filled with boxes and crates.
As June 17, approached Kyoshi Schmidt was filling a plastic bin with what the curator indicated he was looking to display. On a whim, I asked Okusan, if the curator is looking for Clarksburg natives who made a name for themselves, what about you? Of course she shrugged and said he is interested in Hanshi.
On June 17, Okusan, Kyoshi Schmidt, myself, hombu student Pat O'Brien, Shihan Shawna Lingo and two of her students Sarah and Austin headed to Clarksburg. I traveled with Kyoshi Schmidt and Okusan in a Prius. That's right. We did not take all of Hanshi's accolades and "stuff" he accumulated during his lengthy martial arts history. We took what Kyoshi Schmidt believed the curator wanted to start a display. She had no idea what size the display was or the museum for that matter.
On Friday afternoon our group met the curator. Shihan Kevin Drummond, Bridgeport Dojo Head, joined us in the museum. Kyoshi Schmidt and I discussed in detail with the curator what he wanted. It did not take too long to realize that we had too much "stuff" in one little bin that fit in a Prius and would fit in with the theme of the museum. The curator learned about Okusan and her native roots and next thing we knew we had two inductees into the museum. AWESOME!!!! Hanshi had to be grinning from ear to ear, supernaturally speaking, knowing that he and his wife are going to be enshrined in a museum of legends in their home town Clarksburg, West Virginia. This is so appropriate because we know that they are the cofounders of the United States Chito Kai or the karate organization that is probably the most successful in the United States.
We left the museum with a better picture of what we needed to do to incorporate martial arts legends William J. Dometrich and Barbara Ellen Webster Dometrich in their hometown museum. We also left the museum with an appetite.
But first, we had to train at Shihan Drummond's dojo. In conjunction with this training, Kyoshi Schmidt and Shihan Drummond concocted a test format for one of his students testing for ik kyu. To make ik kyu, students are required to test in front of the National Test Board in October at the hombu, but there are exceptions to this policy. The candidate was Scotty Quinones who would not be able to travel to the hombu to test because of a medical affliction. He has trained with Shihan Drummond for 21 years and is one of his most dedicated students. Kyoshi Schmidt ran the drills and some of higher ranks training alongside him that night were asked to evaluate his performance. He was awesome and earned the rank of ik kyu.
That evening Cindy Drummond met up with us and our entire group went to a Japanese restaurant. On Saturday Shihan Lingo took her students to Audra State Park to show them the significance of that beautiful campground while we gave Pat O'Brien a tour of the legends' childhood homes, schools and other eateries in Clarksburg.
Presently, the museum display is a work in progress. You will be informed when the display is open for review. In coordination with the museum and its first Friday celebrations, the USCK will be involved in a karate demonstration on August 5. Any and all are welcomed to participate.

Observations from the Outside

by Almonte Covington, Head Instructor, Kentuckiana Shotokan Karate Do; DNBK Member
The weekend of March 19, 2022 found us gathered together to remember Hanshi William Dometrich. It was the 10th anniversary of his passing. The Yoseikan Chito Ryu group held their spring seminar/workout/memorial right on schedule; just as Hanshi would have wanted.
As an "outsider", the gathering was very nice to observe. I describe myself as an outsider as I am not a "member" of Yoseikan Chito Ryu. This did not matter to the folks gathered. True, they have held this gathering for quite a long time and I have been "visiting" for some 20 plus years. However, they have always welcomed me and anyone who attended. The spirit of Martial Arts is so inspiring, thus the reason to attend year after year. The consistency of being welcomed just plain feels good.
The Chito Ryu group worked on Chito Ryu techniques. It was great! The Basics, Kihon Waza, are the Basics. Correct the stance. Perform proper rotation and path for blocking. Have correct kime when striking. "Outsiders" have the opportunity to learn. The skillful instructors take the time to break the techniques down so they are easy to pick up, allowing everyone to fully participate. Watching the Black Belts work was great!! They were very serious and focused. The energy generated motivates one to keep going. They don't say "be like me". They set the example for you to WANT to be like them; to work like them; to display Martial Spirit like them.
There is so much to learn. Hanshi Dometrich has left a great legacy in the people presenting the Art. Thank you for the time. This "outsider" of 20 plus years will be going back for more.

2021 SHOCHUGEIKO

by Don Schmidt, Renshi
I SURVIVED...
How appropriate the 2021 Shochugeiko commemorative shirt as designed by Kyoshi Sherry Kembre illustrates what most of us have experienced since our last Shochugeiko training in July 2019. The comradery of training together was truly missed during the COVID shutdown saga. I, Renshi Don Schmidt, am looking forward to our group training again in October. The first day I wore the commemorative shirt I was complimented on the design, but the person asked "What is the third choice"?
Shochugeiko this year occurred under the threat of severe weather. But we donned our gi and showed up at Big Bone State Park and began training under cloudy conditions. Kyoshi Kembre led the first hour and as soon as we got hot, a light shower occurred. Well, maybe a heavy shower, but no lightning. Peeks of sun steamed up our training area on occasion, but then another shower moved through. AWESOME! The field was soaked like a sponge and as we did kicking drills in sunshine, water sprayed from feet in every direction. Personally, I was looking forward to turning around to give some pay back with my size 13 wet feet. The more hip or snap in maigeri keage, one could spew water two rows forward. I also learned that training on a sponge field cleansed my feet so I did not have to spend two days getting dirt off the bottoms of my feet.
The second hour involved Sensei Bill DiGrezio leading black belts through kata while Kyoshi Kembre led the kyu ranks through kata. Same weather conditions prevailed, but our spirit overcame.
The last two hours of the clinic involved kobudo and since we were in a field we trained with bo. Hanshi Devorah Herbst, Founder/President of RyuKyu Kobudo Hozon Shinkokai, Beikoku So Honbu, taught advanced ranks bo kihon and Shuji no Kon Sho. Renshi Eric Ford taught beginner and intermediate ranks bo kihon and Sakagawa no Kon Sho. I taught beginner children bo kihon and introduced them to Taikyoku no Kon Sho. The last hour of the clinic was in full sunshine and the children could not be contained any longer as they loaded up with water balloons and devised a plan of attack on the intermediate kyu ranks. They left the advanced ranks alone.
Pandemic conditions were yielded to so we did not have our pot luck banquet after the training. Additionally, the training focused on social distancing. Participants, if they chose, brought their own picnic lunch which added to the comradery of being together again. After the clinic all participants in the field turned to Meiyo Hanshi Barbara Dometrich in the shelter and gave her banzai cheer in recognition of her accomplishments.

Older entries can be found in the U.S. Chito-kai history pages.