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.


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