Remembering Dometrich-Sensei


Below is an article I wrote for Ryushu47, the newsletter put together by Sakamoto-Sensei for Ryusei Karate-Do (sadly, most of it is in Japanese). It is one of the tributes to William Dometrich, ninth dan and head of the United States Chito-ryu Karate Federation, who died on March 22.

It is with great sadness that I note the passing of  William Dometrich, ninth dan and head of the United States Chito-Ryu Karate Association.

As one of O-Sensei’s original students, Dometrich-Hanshi was a treasure trove of information about Chito-Ryu technique. I recall  a summer camp that Dometrich-Sensei taught for the Canadian Chito-Ryu Karate Association in Canmore, Alberta, in the late 1980s or early 1990s. In teaching no. 5 of Niseishi bunkai, he showed a method that O-Sensei originally taught him, which was like judo’s ude garami. O-Sensei changed it to the current no. 5 because of the stress that the original technique put on the shoulder joint, making it dangerous for beginners.

I still teach the original method of no. 5 to my senior students as tribute to what I learned from Dometrich-Hanshi.

The first time I met Dometrich-Hanshi was in 1970, when I fled down as a boy with my teacher, Higashi-Sensei, to participate in a tournament in Kentucky, organized by Mr. Dometrich. As I recall, I won one fight, using flying sidekick, and then lost my second fight to a bigger, tougher boy.

That night, after the tournament, Dometrich-Sensei showed us his dojo with great pride. I was a little intimidated him because of his stern matter and because he was a police officer. But then I remember him revealing another side to his character that changed this impression. He quoted a letter he had written to a martial arts magazine, and he ended it with a Zen poem. I don’t remember the poem now but it was very lyrical and evocative. Like the man who quoted it, it had great depths.


One Comment

  1. OMGoodness I cannot believe that other replies do not show here? I had the priviledge of training with Sensei Dometrich in 1983 having travelled from the west coast of Canada to Canmore Alberta for the one week clinic. I was in the company of select colleagues and my Sensei Fernando Correia. Sensei Dometrich came with an entourage of his foremost “students”. I recall one was a military man and tough as nails. At one point Sensei Dometrich said, “kick the sky Jim.” (To which Jim did an instantaneous yoko geri and (figuratively) knocked the ceiling off the gymnasium. For me it was a profound experience that is not forgotten! I was only an orange belt when I arrived and did get my green belt there. William Dometrich was, of course, the epitome of dedication/commitment. I recall one day jogging around the (school) field outside the gym being led by Sensei Dometrich calling out,”Chito-Ryu, all the way!” with all of us shouting the same mantra back. I recall going back to our motel every early evening and just collapsing only to down copious volumes of fluids yet being too tired to eat. It was pretty hot there at around 100 degrees. A great memory and truly a highlight of life!

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